Today we go to psychologists, undertake cognitive-therapy, pray a lot, and do just about anything we can think of to quell our fears and anxiety. In today’s world, we have many reasons to be fearful and anxious. A very bright young man, Jules Evans, wrote a book that is getting lots of kudos these days, and rightly so. Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations: Ancient Philosophy for Modern Problems.
The Ancient Philosophy part really got me. For example, the Stoics believed that emotions can be changed by understanding their connection to our beliefs and attitudes. Wow. Change your thinking and you change your emotional attitude. That’s nothing new. But the Stoics used journals to keep track of how they felt and examined them. (This reminds me of St. Ignatius and his Examen.) As Vicktor Frankel said, we cannot control what happens, but we can control how we react to what happens. The Stoics practiced focusing on what they could control.
According to Mr. Evans, one of the exercises the Stoics practiced was called The View From Above. For instance, we project our imaginations into the vastness of space. We then imagine what we are thinking from that perspective and it doesn’t seem so big anymore.
The Stoics believed in Habits. They practiced, trained and repeated their theories. Evans says they had a technique called Maxim. They would form their ideas into short phrases which they could remember like “Everything in Moderation.”
Practice, practice, practice! Study, but then put the ideas to work. The Stoics believed that adversity was for training. If we eat too much, practice eating less. The aim of Stoics was living in accordance with virtue. “The good life came from doing the right thing.”
Finally, the most important. The Stoics believed that we have ethical obligations to everyone, even the world. Do we? A question to ponder. If we do, to what extent?
Thank you Jules Evans. You have touched my heart and soul. You have made me think. You have made me want to love bigger and better. Google Jules Evans. He is amazing.