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.

HOW ABOUT THAT!”

We both smiled and finished our drinks.

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