Facing Challenging Circumstances

“Hey Tom, welcome to my second blog on How To Become a Stoic.”

“Great Dave, I can’t wait to delve further into the Stoic philosophy.”

“This is what we will focus on today:

Stoicism helps not only those who face challenging situations, but also for those who face PERMANENTLY challenging situations.”

“Dave, do we face permanently challenging situations?”

“Of course we do, Tom, we face permanent discomfort and illnesses of aging.

This is a daily struggle of ours. We are a victim of our aches and pains and depression of aging.”

“So, what do we do, Dave?”

“Well Tom, Stoicism will help us develop a personal philosophy about life in old age.

We need to feel like an agent in the world. Agency is very important.”

“Agency? What’s that?”

“Agency is the human capability to influence one’s functioning and the course of events by one’s actions.”

“Oh, I get it, Dave, agency is taking charge of our lives.”

“Yes Tom, old age discomfort and disability take away some of our agency.

So to live with old age we need to Reclaim Our Agency.”

“Sounds like a tough call, Dave.”

“It is my friend, BUT we have to do it for our peace of mind.

We need to maintain agency under permanent challenging circumstances.”

“I think I know what to do next, Dave.

We need to focus on our abilities, NOT our disabilities.

Focus on what Can we do, NOT what we cannot do.”

“Right on, Tom, I’m proud of you!”

“The next thing is to “Know Thyself.”

You have to know your limits as you age. Also, we need an alarm system to tell us when To Stop Suffering and begin taking charge.”

“How about our life plan, Dave, we probably have to keep revising that.”

“Right, we need to figure out what we want to do with what life is left.”

We both stopped to digest our discussion so far.

“One goal of Stoicism is to achieve tranquility. We need to accumulate positive thoughts and  reject negative ones. We have to learn equanimity in the face of Adversity.”

“That’s also a tough call.”

“Our problem, Tom, is that we are too self-aware.

We fix on problems and negative thinking.

We keep forgetting Epictetus’s dichotomy of control.

Things under our control are: our responses to problems and our behaviours.

Not the situations we find ourselves in.”

We chewed on that for a while.

“We need to reflect on our condition and make an effort to see things in a different light, one that is more rational and compassionate.

This change of perspective will help us to cope better with our situation.”

“I get it, Dave, what we are aiming for is Peace of Mind and Inner Tranquillity!”

We chewed on that also.

“Dave, do you think we can change our future?”

“You can change how you will feel in the future by how you respond to your situation.

The choice is yours, Resist or Accept the situation.

Acceptance means a reduction in your suffering!”

“Lets talk about the road to Serenity.

In the morning remind yourself that the only thing you truly possess are your choices.

In the evening remind yourself how much is out of your control and accept it.

At bedtime remember sleep is a form of surrender and this calms you.”

We both tried to digest all these points.

“The cards were dealt and we played them the best we could.

Think of the life you have lived as OVER.

See what’s left as a bonus and live it as fully as possible.

Once you pass 80 you’re living on borrowed time!

Let us be the best people we can be–TODAY!”

“Anything else, Dave?”

“One last thing:

Don’t mind me, I’m only dying slow!!!

What if you found out you only had a year to live?

This question is designed to make you consider how different your perspective of life would be if you had a year to live.

Nothing like a terminal prognosis to wake people up!

But here’s the rub–You already have a Terminal Diagnosis.

We All Do!!!

Every person is born with a death sentence!!!


Once you realise this, it will have a profound impact on what you do, say, and think.

Remember you are a dying person.


So, live your present moments as enjoyably as possible and be kind to yourself and others.


With that, Tom and I waked out into the sunshine,,,


Troubles? Problems? Be a Stoic!

“Hey Tom, I’ve decided to become a Stoic!”

“Why Dave?” said Tom, with a perplexed look.

“Because to cope with aging you need the teachings of Stoicism.”

Tom had a quizzical look on his face.

“Here’s a definition of a Stoic: a person who can ENDURE pain and hard times without showing their feelings or complaining plus the ability to ACCEPT the hard times of aging. You can’t fight or resist the uncontrollable or the unchangeable, if you try, you SUFFER!”

“What are some of the teachings of Stoicism?”

“The basic teachings are: That we don’t control external events or nature. All we can rely on is ourselves and our responses.

It seeks to remind us that we live in an unpredictable world and how brief our life is.

How to be strong in the face of life’s problems.”

“Sounds good, Dave, tell me more.”

“Well Tom, here’s something to lighten your day.

Think of a marble bust of Writer Dave right alongside the busts of Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Seneca!

They were the Big Three of Stoicism.”

“Sounds great, Dave. I suggest you get a bunch made up so you can sell them at the car boot sale!”

We both laughed uncontrollably.

“Now lets get serious, Dave. What led you to Stoicism?”

“Well Tom, I came across an article on “Changes in the Body and Mind with Aging.”

The article was twenty pages long!

It read like a horror story, everything was going to pot!

I then realised I would need come powerful philosophy, such as Stoicism, to cope.”

“Anything else, Dave?”

“Next to the article on Aging were some existential questions for the Elderly:

How will you deal with mortality?

How will you deal with transitoriness?

Do you feel the senselessness of being old?

These questions shook me up even more.”

“Wow! That’s scary, Dave.”

“Right! So I propose we have a few discussions on how to be a Stoic.”

“Okay by me, Dave. Where do we start?”

“Well, lets start with the Stoic idea of turning an obstacle upside down.

If you turn a problem upside down, every bad situation or experience becomes a new source of good.”

“Hey Dave, run that by me again!”

“To a Stoic, everything is an opportunity.

Lets say you’re living with a bad situation which is unchangeable. You endure it by accepting it completely, which in turn makes you strong and resilient.

This eases your suffering.”

“Dave, I read somewhere that everything is Ephemeral, lasting only a short time. Is that a teaching?”

“Right Tom, you just had a philosophical moment!!!

If everything is ephemeral, the present is all that matters, it’s the only life you have.

Being a good person and doing the right thing, right now, that’s what matters to a Stoic.”

“One of the most important stoic exercises is: Amor Fati, a love of fate. In other words, bear what is necessary and embrace it. By accepting your fate, your situation, you ease the mental suffering.

This is the stoic mindset that you take on for making the BEST out of anything that happens, no matter how challenging.”

We both pondered our discussion so far.

“Well Tom, what do you think?

Will Stoicism give you peace of mind?”

“Yes Dave, but I think we have to delve into it further and practice it on a daily basis.”

“We will, Buddy, in further blogs.

In conclusion I will say:

Stoicism is for us who live our lives in the Real World.

That’s good for us because you and I are Realists!!!”

Creating a Cultural Ape (Human)

This cultural ape would live in a collective organisational system (industrialised society).

One day when my buddy Tom and I were in the End of the Line Tavern sitting on our green-padded stools, I posed this question.

Could you redesign a chimpanzee to be a human, in other words a cultural ape?

“Well Dave, this would be a good question to ponder on our stools and it would be fun.”

“Okay Tom, what’s the first trait you would build into your cultural animal?”

Tom’s eyes lit up, I knew the stools (green-padded) would work their magic.

“Well Dave, the chimpanzee would need a very strong urge to form social connections with others.”

“That’s right, Tom, our creation would need a strong need to BELONG.”

We both sipped our soft drinks. Tom had got me onto less alcohol.

“Second, it would need to identify with large groups such as a Nation.

Tom spoke up, “Third, our creation would need a MIND that recognises that others have inner states similar to his,, which makes communication and empathy and understanding possible.”

“Bang on, Tom, our creation would need to belong to a commune of others so they could shape knowledge and work together.”

“Fourth, so our creation could work with others, it would need the ability to make themselves act appropriately and according to the norms of society.”

“To do this our creation would need self-awareness.”

“Dave, I just thought of the Fifth trait.

The creation would need to be able to PROCESS a large amount of information.

His brain would need an extremely large storage capacity to hold the info.”

“Sixth, to be cultural would require a Socialization Process to learn the Rules for behaviour in society.”

“Seventh, our creation would need a decision-making apparatus. It would need to make Choices as to what to do that’s best.”

“Dave, I’ve got the last trait.

It would need SELF-CONTROL to override bad responses and regulate itself.”

“That’s right, Tom, it would need to be able to handle ever changing social circumstances and control its own inner states and action tendencies.”

“Well Tom, we have created a human being from a chimpanzee.


We both smiled and finished our drinks.

THE GREEN-PADDED STOOLS HAVE DONE IT AGAIN: pondered life’s great questions!!!