Recent Stoic Meditations, #19

When Fortuna allows, I publish a short morning meditation based on a short quote from a Stoic writer, seeking to apply that ancient wisdom to life in the 21st century. Here are the most recent entries:

There are, as you know, vices which are next-door to virtues. Carelessness looks like ease, and rashness like bravery. (listen here)

It’s relatively easy to stay on the right track by following simple methods, but there are countless ways to go wrong if we don’t pay attention. Here are three basic rules from Stoic philosophy to keep your life on the right track. (listen here)

How do we strike a good balance between cultivating externals, like wealth, and focusing on the improvement of our own character? Different philosophical schools gave different answers to this question. (listen here)

Philosophers have debated for millennia the nature of ethics. Is it arbitrary? Or are there universal moral laws that we can apprehend through reason? Neither, say the Stoics. Theirs is a thoroughly naturalistic philosophy. (listen here)

Desires have to be reined in, fear to be suppressed, proper actions to be arranged, debts to be paid; we therefore include self-restraint, bravery, prudence, and justice among the virtues – assigning to each quality its special function. (listen here)

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Recent Stoic Meditations, #18

When Fortuna allows, I publish a short morning meditation based on a short quote from a Stoic writer, seeking to apply that ancient wisdom to life in the 21st century. Here are the most recent entries:

He who has much, desires more – a proof that he has not yet acquired enough; but he who has enough has attained that which never fell to the rich man’s lot – a stopping-point. (listen here)

No doubt you have seen dogs playing with, and fawning before, each other, and thought, ‘Nothing could be friendlier.’ But just throw some meat in the middle, and then you’ll know what friendship amounts to. (listen here)

The Stoics understood what bodily health is, and from that they deduced the existence of a certain mental health also. They knew about bodily strength, and from that they inferred the existence of mental sturdiness. (listen here)

The Stoics regard nothing as good which can be put to wrong use by any person. And we can all see for ourselves to what wrong uses many people put their riches, their high position, or their physical powers. (listen here)

Externals — such as money, possessions, and the like — are how we exercise our virtue, which cannot be expressed in a vacuum. And one of the four cardinal virtues is temperance. (listen here)

Recent Stoic Meditations, #17

When Fortuna allows, I publish a short morning meditation based on a short quote from a Stoic writer, seeking to apply that ancient wisdom to life in the 21st century. Here are the most recent entries:

Fortune sometimes favors villains and turns against good people. That’s why our happiness should depend on our own decisions, not the vagaries of chance. (listen here)

We take a lot of things for granted, when life is going well for us. But — fools that we are — we really appreciate what we had only once we’ve lost it. That’s why the Stoics devised a series of exercises in mild self-deprivation. (listen here)

Here is a basic Stoic equation: external thing or activity + virtue = good, while its opposite is: external thing or activity + vice = bad. So, is your profession good or bad, according to this approach? (listen here)

People think that externals are good, and then, after having won their wish, and suffered much, they find them evil, or empty, or less important than they had expected. (listen here)

In order to live a meaningful life (ethics) we need to reason well about things (logic), and we need to have a good grasp of how the world works (science). How are your logic and science, then? (listen here)

Recent Stoic Meditations, #16

When Fortuna allows, I publish a short morning meditation based on a short quote from a Stoic writer, seeking to apply that ancient wisdom to life in the 21st century. Here are the most recent entries:

We are in love with our vices; we uphold them and prefer to make excuses for them rather than shake them off. The reason is unwillingness, the excuse, inability. (listen here)

External goods like fine clothing, gourmet food, and nice houses ought to be regarded as the playthings of children, not the shackles of adults. (listen here)

Nature has not given us such a generous and free-handed space of time that we can have the leisure to waste any of it. (listen here)

The Stoic concept of preferred and dispreferred indifferents always gets people confused or, the other common human response to lack of understanding, scoffing. (listen here)

Recent Stoic Meditations, #15

When Fortuna allows, I publish a short morning meditation based on a short quote from a Stoic writer, seeking to apply that ancient wisdom to life in the 21st century. Here are the most recent entries:

We have become alternately merchants and merchandise, and we ask, not what a thing truly is, but what it costs. (listen here)

One of the major differences between Stoics and Aristotelians has always been the treatment of disruptive emotions, such as anger and fear. They are helpful, in small measure, for Aristotle, but definitely to avoid for the Stoics. (listen here)

Do you find yourself in the thralls of fear, jealousy, or anger? Do you act inconsistently in life? Then you ain’t wise yet. (listen here)

From the point of view of someone who has managed to overcome his attachment for externals, people going after riches and luxuries look like fools. Are you one of them? (listen here)

Recent Stoic Meditations, #14

When Fortuna allows, I publish a short morning meditation based on a short quote from a Stoic writer, seeking to apply that ancient wisdom to life in the 21st century. Here are the most recent entries:

Seneca reminds us that Alexander the Great conquered everything, except his own destructive emotions, which led to endless grief for him and his friends. Beware, therefore, of reacting in anger to your problems. (listen here)

Seneca reminds us that in the time of Nero – just like today – famous, rich and powerful people are hiding much evil under a thin coating of titles. (listen here)

Seneca, who knew a thing or two about wealth, warns us about pursuing it. A mind that revels in luxury, he says, is a mind that has lost its balance. (listen here)

Seneca reminds us that striving to be a better person is an end in itself, not to be pursued in order to boast to others of our accomplishments. (listen here)

Recent Stoic Meditations, #13

When Fortuna allows, I publish a short morning meditation based on a short quote from a Stoic writer, seeking to apply that ancient wisdom to life in the 21st century. Here are the most recent entries:

Philosophers can be clever. Too clever for their own sake, suggests Seneca. Indeed, one measure of wisdom is precisely the ability to tell the difference between cleverness and usefulness. (listen here)

Doesn’t it take time to practice Stoicism? We are all so busy! Here is Marcus Aurelius’ response to that question. A response that applies also if you are a Christian, or a Buddhist, among other things. (listen here)

Epictetus argues that things are useless or useful not in themselves, but as a result of what we do with them. As usual in Stoicism, the answer comes from within, from our own attitudes toward things. (listen here)

Seneca explains that courage has little to do with rushing into battle to face an enemy. It’s about how we handle the good and the bad that Fortuna throws our way. Also, wanna play ball with Socrates? (listen here)

Human beings have an unparalleled ability to communicate with each other. And yet, Seneca suggests, much of the time we talk about things that are neither improving ourselves, nor making the world a better place. (listen here)