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Stoic Week 2014 – Everything You Need to Know

Stoic Week 2014: Everything You Need to Know

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Stoic Week 2014 is an online and international event taking place from Monday 24th to Sunday 30th November. This is its third year. Anyone can participate by following the daily instructions in the Stoic Week 2014 Handbook, which will be published online. You will be following the Stoic practices of philosophers such as Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and Epictetus, for seven days, and discussing the experience of adapting them for modern living with other participants in our online forums. The aims of the course are to introduce the philosophy so that you can see how it might be useful in your own life and to measure its potential therapeutic effectiveness.

About Stoicism: Stoicism was first practised in the Graeco-Roman world in around 300 BC. At the core of Stoicism is the idea that virtue, or strength of character, is the most important thing in life. They focussed on ‘following nature’ by perfecting the rational nature of the human being, through cultivating wisdom, courage, temperance and justice, and also on bringing to fruition the social nature of the human being, by aiming to excel in our social roles, whether familial or in society at large. Stoicism, therefore, is simultaneously a philosophy of inner strength and outer excellence.

About the course: The course guides you through all the basic ideas of Stoicism. Each day has its own theme, exercises to practise, reflections from original Stoic texts to consider. It has been written by the Stoicism Today team, an interdisciplinary group of academics and psychotherapists. You are also encouraged to take wellbeing surveys before and after the week, so that we can measure the course’s effectiveness.

You can find audio resources (guided meditations to download) for the course here.

Registration: The course is not held on the Stoicism Today website but on its sister website, modernstoicism.com. Please register for the course on that website, and fill in the pre-week questionnaires the weekend before Stoic Week commences, and again once Stoic Week is over. At the moment, there is no course content on the website, but you can register now by following these two steps:

1. Create an account on modernstoicism.com if you don’t have one already.

2. Visit the main course page for Stoic Week 2014 and click the ‘enrol’ button.

You will receive an automatic email with further instructions. In due course, how to fill out the pre and post Stoic Week wellbeing questionnaires will be made available on the course website.
 

Want to share your experiences during the week? There will be very active discussion boards during Stoic Week on the course website. You can also post your reflections on the Stoicism Facebook group.

I would like to meet other people interested in Stoicism face to face not just online. How can I do this? 

If you live in the UK, there is a one-day event being held at Queen Mary, University of London, on November 29th. There are 300 places for the event, so you should book now to avoid disappointment. Click here for more information. Videos and audio recordings of this event are planned, and will be uploaded onto the Stoicism Today website in the weeks that follow Stoic Week. You can see a video of last year’s London event here.

There are also other events being organised around the world. Click here for a round-up of these events. Get in touch if you are organising an event and would like it listed on the blog.

What were the results of last year’s study? Last year, around 2,400 people took part in Stoic Week worldwide. Our findings supported the view that Stoicism is helpful. Participants reported a 14% improvement in life satisfaction, a 9% increase in positive emotions (joy increased the most of all emotions, whilst optimism increased by 18%) and an 11% decrease in negative emotions. The findings also supported the view that Stoicism not only increases well-being but also enhances virtue –  56% of participants gave themselves a mark of 80% or more when asked whether it had made them a better person and made them wiser.

What else can I look forward to during Stoic Week? On the Stoicism Today blog during Stoic Week, there will be personal testimonies of how Stoicism has been useful in people’s lives, as well as articles tackling various stereotypes of Stoicism, and reflections by prominent authors on Stoicism and its uses in the modern world. Get in touch if you would like to share reflections on how Stoicism has been helpful in your life.

Stoicism in Schools: Are you a teacher? We have developed some lesson plans for students which you can make use of. Click here. 60 schools world-wide have already signed up.

There will also be participants from HMP Low Moss Prison in Scotland taking part.

Stoicism in the Media: If you would like to run a feature Stoic Week, please get in touch. You can read of the previous media interest in Stoic Week here.

Please share this page with anyone you think might be interested, and post it on Facebook and Twitter.

Stoic Week’s twitter account is @StoicWeek. The Facebook page for Stoic Week 2014 can be found here.

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‘The Stoic Love of Community’ by Matt Van Natta

The Stoic Love of Community

 Matt Van Natta

Did you know that the Stoic view of humanity is one of love, compassion, and concern? It is. However, if you missed this fact, I wouldn’t be surprised. The common conception of the ‘stoic’ individual doesn’t immediately bring to mind an enthusiastic and engaged community member. Even as Stoicism has surged in popularity, much of the conversation has remained focused on the philosophy’s psychological tool kit without going on to address the wider Stoic view of the world. This is unfortunate. Stoic psychology is a powerful system that can build mindfulness and resilience into its practitioners. Such inner strength is helpful for everyone, but it becomes admirable when applied to the real problems of the world. One of my favorite descriptions of Stoicism well-lived comes from Seneca. He writes,

‘No school has more goodness and gentleness; none has more love for human beings, nor more attention to the common good. The goal which it assigns to us is to be useful, to help others, and to take care, not only of ourselves, but of everyone in general and of each one in particular’ (On Clemency 3.3).

What a vibrant description! The philosophy to which Seneca had devoted himself did not encourage detachment. The Stoicism he had learned and lived was deeply engaged with world. It was, and continues to be, a philosophy of community. Its goal is to bring the best out of Stoics so they, in turn, can give their best to the people around them. These community-embracing Stoics are not the aloof men and women of popular conception. They are the friends, neighbors, and citizens who take up the hard work of life because they are not concerned with the obstacles in their way.

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‘Hold Your Horses – Driving Lessons From Ancient Rome’ by Jen Farren

Hold Your Horses – Driving Lessons From Ancient Rome

Jen Farren

Albania

I have a modern problem – driving. Albania is a land of aggressive drivers where few traffic signs or rules are obeyed. Drivers jump signals, go clockwise, anticlockwise and straight across at roundabouts and drive the wrong way up motorways. Meanwhile people and livestock run across the road and in the mountains, without warning, roads sometimes end by dropping off a cliff.

With little time to anticipate or react, at times driving is like a dodgem ride full of near-misses, bumps and shocks. For a new driver like me, it may be one of the worst places to drive. I looked for advice from the Stoics and found it in the surprisingly relevant parallel of the Roman charioteer.

In a tradition dating back to Greece, the charioteer also faced aggressive driving, the risk of losing control, accidents and crashes as: “one chariot crashing into another, shattering it to pieces, until the entire field of Crisa became a sea of chariot wrecks. (Electra – Sophocles).The Romans saw the chariot race as a metaphor for life – short, competitive, full of drama and danger. Life and racing are sports of chance and error and both require skill and emotional control over the self:

“Any sensible person will behave like a charioteer applying the reins to his team and will check the vigorous impulses of his affections.” Cicero

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