Would-be Stoics can begin by relaxing their upper lips. Massimo Pigliucci describes how he recently became a Stoic, how he practices a number of standard Stoic exercises daily, and how Stoicism might or might not fit in with his scientific and philosophical beliefs. “For my part, I’ve recently become a Stoic. I do not mean that I have started keeping a stiff upper lip and suppressing my emotions. As much as I love the ‘Star Trek’ character of Mr. Spock (which Gene Roddenberry actually modeled after his — mistaken — understanding of Stoicism), those are two of a number of misconceptions about what it means to be a Stoic. In reality, practicing Stoicism is not really that different from, say, practicing Buddhism (or even certain forms of modern Christianity): it is a mix of reflecting on theoretical precepts, reading inspirational texts, and engaging in meditation, mindfulness, and the like. … In the end … Stoicism is simply another path some people can try out in order to develop a more or less coherent view of the world, of who they are, and of how they fit in the broader scheme of things. The need for this sort of insight seems to be universal.”
According to Lary Wallace, Stoicism is eminently understandable but is grotesquely misunderstood. It’s misunderstood even by great philosophers like Nietzsche. It’s typically thought to be about remaining impassive. But in fact Stoicism promises “lasting transcendence and imperturbable tranquility.” It’s one of the best mind hacks ever.
Stoic Week 2014 is an online and international event taking place from Monday, November 24, to Sunday, November 30. This is its third year. Anyone can participate by following the daily instructions in the Stoic Week 2014 Handbook. You can follow the Stoic practices of Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and Epictetus, for seven days, and discuss your experience other participants. “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.”