Thoughts on: ‘Stoicism and the Art of Happiness’ by Donald Robertson

I have adopted many powerful principles the last couple of years that increased my baseline happiness levels. One of the big ones, second only to learning to stop giving a shit about what people might think of me and what I do (still W.I.P 😉) ,is the Stoic idea of being indifferent to thing that are not under ‘our direct control’.

The weather, death, traffic, other people, outcome of soccer games, train delays, sickness, international politics etc..

So much anger, anxiety and frustration has been avoided since I fully committed to this principle. What a great source of fulfillment and tranquility!

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This book does a great job summarizing Stoic philosophy! Here’s some notes:

  • Mindfulness of what is up to us and what’s not is one of the main remedies for emotional suffering.

  • Set you intentions each morning and evaluate how you did each evening. Where did you act virtuously and where did you miss the mark? Review your actions and evaluate you conduct.

  •  ‘Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them’ – Epictetus

  • Novice Stoics should begin by training themselves each day:

1️⃣ To endure what they irrationally fear, or find aversive, with courage and perseverance.

2️⃣ To renounce, or abstain from, what they irrationally crave, through discretion and self-discipline.

  • Outcome independence: The goal of a Sage (the Stoics ideal) would not be to benefit others, which is beyond his control, but rather simply do his best to benefit them. Like an archer firing a arrow, his work is done when he has done his best, weather or not he hit his target.

This is a great book (even excellent if you ignore its repetitive textbook nature) that provides a great overview of Stoicism. It’s also full of exercises on how to apply the philosophy to everyday life.

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I still think Irvine’s ‘A Guide to the Good Life’ is the best starting point if you are curious about Stoicism (link in BIO). Which you should be! It’s an fascinating and very practical philosophy!

What principles have you picked up during the last couple of years that had major impact on your life?

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4/5

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Practicing Stoicism: Voluntary Discomfort.

I’m back into stoicism again after rereading Seneca and after picking up the so far excellent book, ‘Stoicism and the Art of Happiness’. But this time around I’m not settling with only theory. I want to try some actual Stoic exercises, or more precisely; Voluntary Discomfort.

Why would the Stoics voluntarily put themselves in uncomfortable situations? Well, to develop appreciation and gratitude for what I already have and prepare for future adversity.

Here are some things a stoic practitioner could do:

❗️Underdress for cold weather.

❗️Forgo pleasures such a passing of a glass of wine of watching you favorite show.

❗️Sleep on the floor instead of the bed.

❗️Eat only plain foods and drink only water for a week.

❗️Emulate poverty by dressing in shabby clothes and sleep under a bridge.

❗️Not drink anything for a day.

❗️Reading the comments on articles and videos on the internet to elicit anger and practice equanimity (found this one on Reddit 👍🏻)

❗️ Sleep without a pillow.

You get the idea: Get yourself more uncomfortable than you’d usually be. It’ll make you stronger. You’ll appreciate what you have and eliminate irrational fears.

Or at least that’s the theory. Now I’m going to try it myself for a month or so. See my Instagram Stories for weekly updates! Or wait for my Lab Report . 😀🔬

What experiments are you conducting in your life? 🤔