Design a site like this with
Get started

Stoicism in Troubled Times

So it’s mid April, 2020, and life has suddenly become completely weird. The coronavirus has taken over our lives, and none of are living our lives completely as before, even if you are trying to. Being ‘locked in’ is far from a normal life.

Having a job may no longer be possible, and you may have lost your fob. or you may have a job, but have to work from home. Or you may, like me, be on a disability support pension and weren’t working, but services have been cut, and shopping has become far more difficult.

If you are a Stoic, or exploring the idea of becoming one, what might that mean, now that we are fighting against an unseen enemy? I am not an expert in Stoicism, and I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about it. But I know my own life, better than anyone else does, and I know how I try to ‘do’ Stoicism, in this new world we have right now.

For me, Stoicism feels like it was helping me to be at peace with this strange world. There is little I can do to cure this disease, nothing in fact. But it is well within my power to stay relatively safe from ‘getting it’. I am helped in this by my husband, who is also my carer, to assist me in various daily things, shopping, housework, etc. I stay safely home, while he goes out to keep ensure we have all we need to eat, remain clean etc.

If ever there was a time to grow your own food, surely now is that time. If one is able to provide for themselves, that is so much safer, as long as you aren’t affected by the Covid 19 virus. And if you are, but are not badly affected, staying home is the only thing to do, apart from seeking medical help as needed. And if your are worse affected, it’s to hospital for you, no doubt about it.

growing our own strawberries

There is little an ordinary person can do about this virus, and so trying to go beyond your abilities, is a senseless thing to try. And ignoring the word of experts, who know far more than others, well, that’s a path to stupidity, surely? The Stoic works at going what they are capable of doing, and affecting, and leaves alone the things they are not capable of doing.

That doesn’t mean not helping out, if something comes up, that you are in fact able to do, perhaps. Not being expert doesn’t mean you can do nothing. It just means you are wise to keep within your bounds of ability, not venturing too far beyond. Growing our own food? Yes we can do that, as proved by successes in previous seasons. Intubation of a patient suffering breathing problems? No, not within my abilities, so I wouldn’t go there, unless there was no other help, and I felt I could do it.

Knowing my own abilities, and understanding the extents of how far I may be capable of reaching, these are important. There are people who know about caring medically for others, and I am happy to leave such things in their hands. If I were to be in the position of being the only available person? Well, I’d give it a go, but understand (I hope) and forgive myself if what I managed wasn’t enough.

I haven’t thought a whole lot about such things previously, because they haven’t seemed important or necessary things. But in this new world, we can’t know everything that might happen, there are not lessons written down in stone, on how to deal with what is here. So I am staying at home, most of the time. I’m eating a nutritionally sound diet, as always, and I am now doing more exercise, to assist my body to do what it needs to do.

I’m exposed to lots of ‘news’ – some true, some perhaps not true. But I am keeping my mind open, and staying with what seems the most likely, and what is sensible and understandable. I’m not a medical person, but I have a doctor who I trust, I will do as he thinks best, when it melds with what I believe to be true. (Which is almost all of the time)

I step back, or try to, from things that seem wrong, or fake, or just plain silly, and I stick with likely, and true things, things that make sense to me. Sure there are moments when I am less than serious, and there may be things I could do for my good, or the good of others, but do nothing. I am human, and like most humans, I go wrong sometimes. Such is the nature of being ‘only human’.  Sometimes a little bit of humour makes things go better.

So these are a few of my thoughts about living with a ‘killer disease’, and trying to look at them Stoically. If you have some thoughts or ideas about any of what I have written, I’d love to know about it, please leave a message here. Thank you. Or if you have any more ideas about Stoicism, I’m always keen to expand my knowledge, and welcome those thoughts and words too. Thank you.

Thinking About Reason

The reason of which I’m thinking is the ‘this is the reason why I can’t come to lunch’ meaning of the word. I’m thinking about the ‘Thinking about’, kind of reason. The kind of reason that separates human from beast. There is some debate about whether any ‘beasts’ actually do use reason, but that is something for a different blog post.


Using reason, considering things more deeply, and moving beyond the obvious into much more, these are the things that help us to do better things, or to do things in a better way. Reason, consciously used, allows us to consider effects, and work to understand the things that occur in our lives. Reason, rather than emotion, is the logical way to get to the actual truth of matters.

Not sleeping, thinking!

Reason allows us to consider ideas, and apply our own knowledge, and knowledge from other sources, to ascertain the actual truth of things. If we use reason, we will discard false ideas, and endeavour to correct ideas found to be untrue. Reason helps us to think about things, and arrive at responses based on truth, not falsity.

Intuition is often given by some people as the sole reason for a decision, but actions based only on intuition, may well give a totally wrong idea, when further thought and ‘reasoning’ would have taken that intuition, and shaped it into a more nuanced and true idea.  Emotion can also lead a person to false ideas. Wanting something to be true, will never actually make a thing true. But the wanting, connected to reason, can work toward a process that may well bring the wanted thing, into fruition.

Stoic thought goes very strongly toward reason, in fact reason, used properly, will lead to Wisdom, and the gaining of Wisdom, as applied to all in life, is the ultimate goal for all, to lead to the living of the truly Good Life. This is a basic aim of Stoicism. This is not a life where we have all of our wants fulfilled, but rather a life where all of our actions performed lead to the greater, rather than only personal, good.

The satisfaction of hunger, or any base or strictly animal needs, at the expense of higher needs, such as the need for deeper thought, are not going to lead to that greater Good, the Good Life that is or should be the ultimate aim for us all. Hunger is a need that should be fulfilled, yes, but how often to people go overboard with it, and have more than they need?

The consequences of this overindulgence are many, and if all chose to only have enough, instead of too much, what a wonderful thing that would be, for all. Moderation is a key to a better life, meeting needs, but not ‘wants’ …
What do you think about this? Does it seem relevant to living a Stoic life? I’d love to hear/read what you think about this. Please leave a comment!

From Marcus Aurelius – A Thought

“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”   Marcus Aurelius

I searched for and posted the thought above to a Facebook page of a friend. I like to find words that have relevance in the modern day, that have held onto the relevance they have held through the times since they were first spoken.
Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of Rome two thousand years ago, and he was also a philosopher, using Stoic thought as his guide to the travails of life. He seems to have been a wise leader, and his wisdom is definitely still relevant to us in these modern times. He would consider his actions coming for each day, in the morning, and then in the evening, think of what the day had brought, and how he had acted.
Thinking on our lives in such Stoic Philosopher makes very much sense. There are so many options to take, and decisions to make, but in reality, when one considers the decisions with wisdom and thought, the end results, in keeping with Stoic thought, will be wise ones. Putting aside the myriad things that one cannot change, and that actually are not yours to decide on anyway, will clear space for you, cutting away the unnecessary and unneeded thought.
If it seems difficult to work against your natural inclinations, it may well be your brain trying to tell you the truth, it is not your business to act, so why are you working so hard to do something … Doing the best you can, for the things that truly are yours to decide upon, that is your Natural business, and those things are the important things for you to thnk on, and do.

A tree doesn’t try to make apple crumble, that is not natural for a tree to do, a tree though, an apple tree, will work at growing the apples that go toward making apple crumble. And an apple tree will grow those apples at the correct time. It will bloom in Spring, bees will pollinate the blossom, and then the fruit will grow and be ready to harvest at the appropriate time.
If you were to say you will make apple crumble next year, using your own home grown apples, but don’t do any of the necessary things every day, to actually grow apples, it will be nonsense. So yes, you may have had a thought about something you wish to do in the future, but there is work to do.
You also have to consider there may not be any fruit to use, even if you do actually plant an apple tree. And apple trees take time to go from just planted, to bearing fruit. Spending time studying how to grow your own apples, or asking those who know about such things are wise things to do, if that is something you wish to do.
So thinking of the future is never a guarantee that what you want will ever happen. If you use your reason, and do all of the things that need to be done, to have the things you want or need to live a good life, (with apple crumble if that is what makes for a good life for you), then your reason will help you to perform all of your necessary tasks.
apple apple tree apples branch
Photo by Tom Swinnen on

Forgiving Ourselves

It’s that time just after Christmas, when some of us, many perhaps, are possibly regretting the good times over Christmas day, in terms of food and drinks taken. Dining lightly is not a thing usually considered sensibly at Christmas time.

I didn’t had overly much more than I usually have, at a meal, but have possible had a little more than I needed to consume, and certainly on Christmas day, had a lot more alcohol than I usually have. Is it a thing to beat myself up about, or not?

I say not. Good times were had on Christmas day, fine times with family members, nice food and drinks, and pleasant chats, sharing information about how our lives have been going, since we last caught up.

So, even though I did drink more wine than I usually do, I easily forgave myself for that indulgence. I shared the fine wine with others, didn’t drink it all myself, I didn’t drink and drive, and as far as I’m aware, I said or did nothing untoward. All went well, and we all had a fine time!

I may have put on a little more unwanted weight, over the Christmas period, but I’ve been making much better food choices in terms of how much and what I’m eating, and I’ve begun a regime of exercises, most of which I do every day. On the days I don’t do all of the exercises, I always do at least some of them.

So if I can continue eating moderately, almost all of the time, and doing these exercises, which were given to me by the physio I have seen recently, then I hope to get fitter and more able to continue improving my own health. On the days I don’t do all of the exercises, I don’t inwardly berate myself, but I am kind, acknowledging that life has many things that have to be done, and happy with myself for at least doing some exercise every single day.


And because I forgive myself, I am becoming better at forgiving others too, when they fail, as I, as a Stoic, should try to do every time. I still find it difficult, but acknowledge my efforts to do so as being worthy, and my failures not usual because I am only human, like all of us, and so not perfect.

If I can go on getting better and better with these things, I will be increasing my wisdom, and becoming closer to the person I am working on becoming. Those who transgress are also only human, and so prone to failures at times, in terms of doing the best thing possible, for themselves, peeople they now, their community, and the world.

Happy Stoic New Year

Some End Of Year Stoic Thoughts To Take Into 2020

If a thing is beyond my control, I am not to blame for it, but if it was under my control, I must think deeply on why I allowed it to be.

Planning for the good to occur is a joy, planning for the bad, is a blessing … The sensible person spends at least as much energy planning for the bad, as for the good.

Everything that happens is a chance to learn. Nothing is good or bad, unless it brings no further reflection.

If I cannot be said to be at fault, I will not accept blame. If I was at fault, I will look closely at why it happened, and will take action, as appropriate, to ensure it doesn’t happen again, if such action is possible for me.

When considering my best action, I will look at the broader picture first, not only the best for myself only.

Being a member of a group is an opportunity to reach heights, but if others in the group are unable to reach them with you, you have in truth failed.

Any problems being faced now, will become irrelevant in the future, no matter how big the problem. We all will die …

If you were there when it happened, and did nothing to stop it, can you really say it wasn’t your fault at all? If you had no control over it at all, yes, otherwise no. Always do what you can if, and when, you can.

You are not one person only, you are a member of the group, the community, the world. Do all you can do, to help the best good come to all.


If you lack the courage to do a thing this time, will you ever have the courage when you have not option but to do it?

A tree that always follows the usual direction of the wind, is a tree that will fall when the wind direction changes. Nature knows this, and acts accordingly. Let Nature be your guide …


Facing fears and acting teaches you to be strong, hiding away from fears allows them to hurt you, over and over again.

If it is wrong for you to do a thing, but others are doing it, it is still wrong for you to do it …


Christmas & New Year Thoughts

This has been a fine year for me, in terms of sharing my words in various ways, some quite different kinds of thoughts. This blog, for instance, which covers my thoughts regarding Stoicism, and how it applies to my life.

I have had no formal training in Stoicism (although I would certainly like to have such training). I have read one book about Stoicism, a book by Massimo Pigliucci, titled “How to be a Stoic”. I found much in this book that interested me, and have been working, ever since, to be a better Stoic.


It’s a work in progress, my Stoic life, but I find when I stay closest to Stoic ideas, I make better decision about important things. I no longer stress about anything really, because I realise there is so much in life that I can do nothing about, because they are for others to deal with.

And when I see something that is my responsibility, I try my hardest to deal with it, in the way that is best for me, for my loved ones, my community, and/or the whole, as appropriate. I can’t save everyone, from everything, but I can save some, from some things …

So this year is almost over, and tomorrow we will have the big day for the giving and receiving of gifts, with more to come the day after. Being with family is an important part of this process, being kind and thoughtful, and enjoying each other’s company.

Thoughts, and then acting on them in ways that bring good, these are the important to me, and even though I know I have flaws, I know I’m working on those flaws, and am becoming a better person, in some ways. I am a work in progress though, as we all are, and if I get things wrong at times, and find out about it, I try to mend things.

This isn’t always possible, but I take note of it, and try harder to be a good and virtuous person, using the wisdom I have, and trying to become ever wiser … I give to my community, I am honest, I try to be kind and friendly to all I meet, if and when I can. Life brings challenges, I try to meet them wisely, with my eye on the best result, in terms of good being done …

This has become my personal philosophy, and I know there are many other Stoics also working to be virtuous, working to make wise decisions, for the best of all, when and if they can … Will we one day help the whole world thing in the same way we do? Who knows, we can but try.

If you have any thoughts about any of my words here, please leave a comment, I would love to here how you feel about what I have written.


Finding My Way in Stoicism

I’m quite new to this Stoic way of living, and I’m sure that I’m not getting all of the things I could/should be doing right, not yet, perhaps never will. But I am thinking more, and more deeply about life, the things I can do to make the world a better place, as well as the things I can do to live a good and fulfilling life, on a more personal level.

I had an accident recently, one that ended up with me having a broken ankle, and an operation to fix the ankle. This meant even more time available to me to think, but I have to admit it was my broken ankle, rather than stoicism that took up most of my thinking. But I didn’t complain about anything that happened, the fixing and then healing processes were handled well, and I am grateful for all of the wonderful help I received.

And, because I’m a writer and poet, this could have been a great time to get stuck into work on my next fiction writing project, which is writing Cozy Murder Mystery novels. I did have  thought about this project, that a hospital would be a fine place to have in one of these books, but I didn’t get much further than that, on that project.

Instead I began a completely new project, and I wrote poems about my broken ankle. And I’d like to think that because I am a thinking kind of person, these poems weren’t woe is me kinds of poems, but more contemplative poems. Certainly gratitude is there amongst the poems, because there was so much to be grateful for.

I contacted a publisher I know, and mentioned this ankle related poetry collection, and they were most happy to read what I had written, on the subject of “Angles on Ankles”, which is what I named this small poetry collection. Once I’d sent them the poems, and a few photographs to consider for the front cover, as well as something for the back blurb, the putting together and printing of this collection went ahead rapidly, and now, less than three months after breaking my ankle, my book is available to sell or give to other people!

The collection is of a kind named a chapbook, which is a book of only 14-40 pages, usually, but not always of poetry, and originally sold on the streets for a small price. My chapbook is being given away, or sole for $5 to interested people. I’m happy to share my words, and as soon as I’ve made the amount I paid for buying copies to sell, I may well give the rest away to people who’d like to read it.

This seems a Stoic thing, not to accumulate lots of money, but only enough …

I welcome thoughts about what I have written here – all comments can lead to great discussions, and further knowledge, a truly good thing, for sure!

Still Practicing Stoicism

Becoming a Stoic isn’t like taking up a new religion, and going to the appropriate church, synagogue, or whatever, once a week, or however often is appropriate. You meet up with others of the same religion, listen to the appropriate person – priest, reverend etc, and perhaps go for a cup of tea with some of those attending afterwards.

Then you go home, and perhaps think on the learnings your heard at the service, and maybe do some good works, in accordance with those learnings. Then you probably go back to living your life in a manner much like everyone else, whatever their particular religious, or secular leanings.

Becoming a Stoic is something different though. A Stoic is, or tries to be constantly learning, thinking, and doing their Stoic thing, being a good and virtuous person, the best they can possibly be, for that is what being a Stoic is all about. “Gaining fulfillment in life through living a good and virtuous life in accordance with Nature.”

Living a ‘good’ life doesn’t refer to getting all of the best things in life, the good things that having lots of money, for instance may bring. No, good refers to acting with wisdom, choosing the best thing for self, community, and everything else.


Stoicism tells us that the only thing we can actually control is ourselves, and to get angry at the actions of others is a waste of time, and causes us unnecessary grief. This is because we are only able to control our own actions and reactions, anything else is beyond our abilities to control.

The actions of others, then, can be seen as good or bad, but we cannot do anything about them, but, if they are bad things, be sorry for the person doing them, for they are harming themselves, as well as perhaps harming others, and nothing really good can come of their bad actions.

Thinking about such matters is not an immediately easy thing to do, seeing other people who look to be living a great life, when we are living a quieter life, living in a moderate way, neither going without what we need, to live, nor to have more than we actually need, to live. Moderate lives, lived in accordance with what is natural to us, being brave, cheerful, courageous, high-minded, accepting, these lead to the Stoic way.

If we feel resentful at what someone else has, are we doing ourselves any good, in that resentment? No, we are not. If we wish for things we can’t afford, or don’t need, are we going ourselves any good? No, the things Nature tells us we need, food, shelter, companionship perhaps, wanting and having these things is a good thing, not bad, as long as no-one is harmed in the process of us getting them.

Some things are difficult, and require hard work to achieve, so we will need to knuckle down and get on with the necessary hard work. This is a good thing. This is courageous, brave, accepting of the reality. But to want for more than we need, is none of these things.

A further issue needs to be considered, the idea of things ‘being in accordance with nature’, refers to acting in accordance of our humanity, the thing that makes us higher than animals. Humans have the ability to reason, and to be rational. And we are born to be social, and to watch out for each other and to work together for the good for all.

Humans can think, and to think about thinking, which is what makes us different from animals, which simply do things, with no further thought on what they have done. Rationality and reason must be the guides we hold to in life, and in holding to them, we can live a life more in accordance with nature, and so a life that strives for the the best life for all, not just ourselves.

Selflessness, rationality, reason, these can lead to that best world for all. I think on these and am aware of the failings of others, but also of my own failings, and I am humbled. I perhaps know things others don’t realise, I understand more, and if they fail, due to ignorance, who am I who fail, even in knowledge of my failings?

Life goes on, I think on where I have failed, and strive do better, be better, achieve higher, and fulfilled life, acting in accordance to what is rational and reasonable. But more than that, I will live a life that adds to the world, and does good for all, not just myself. In doing so, I will be living a wise and fulfilled life, as we all could do …


Let It Go

We live in times when having ‘stuff’ has become a most important thing. Consumerism is God, and those that have the most ‘stuff’ are the winners. Or are that, really? I don’t believe so.

When you have more than you need, you must deal with it the excess, whether by investing it, stashing it somewhere safe, finding ways to use it before it goes ‘off’, or whatever. The extra ‘stuff’ becomes a burden.

But when you have just the correct amount of things, you use them when they are fresh and at their best, and you aren’t required to spend time doing whatever that extra ‘stuff’ requires of you. A little money saved, just in case is good, a mega load of money because it makes you feel important, not so good.

Extra things need storage space, and looking after, and sometimes these things mean you have no time left to enjoy the things that bring you pleasure. One of those things might be books, or a record collection. Having lots of these things, that you regularly read or listen to, these are good things to have.

If you share your wealth of books or music, what joy there can be in such sharing! A personal library for only one person, a sadder thing, surely than a personal library shared and talked about, listened to with friends. Share what you have, if you can’t give it away, and live a worthy life!

And of course, money to buy these things is a good thing, if they are what brings you pleasure. If having them doesn’t do that for you, then why have them, let them go!

Of course, whether or not you wish to live a stoic life is up to each person. If living the minimalist life of a Stoic is not for you, then fine. We are each able to find the way to live that suits us.

But whether Stoic or not, please think on what you have in your life, what brings you joy, what you can do, if you have much, to assist others who have little. But more than that, and more importantly, give to what can make a better world for more than just one person.

Give to a charity that works to lift people up, so they no longer need rely on charity. Give to charity than enriches the world in good and worthy ways. It is better to give more to help a charity that helps homeless people, so they are no longer homeless, than it is to give to one homeless person, so they can eat one meal.

When you can give away your excess things, you will feel better, lighter, less burdened. Let it go and lighten your load.

In Silence Is Wisdom

A life lived without thought, is that living, or merely existing?

Do you make decisions or does life get in the way and make them for you?

When we are able to step away from the constant “must do this” aspects of life, we can move into the truth of what is imperative in our life. Being able to sit and contemplate is one of the imperatives in the lives of all, surely?

A life ‘lived’ as a rush from one thing to the next, to the next, that is not living a life, it is merely reacting to every little thing that pops up, with little to no considered thought.

If instead you can look at what has popped up, thought about the relative benefits or costs of it, and then take a well considered decision of the best reaction, in terms of doing the thing that truly is the ‘best’ thing, in terms of the thing that leads to a greater good, then and only then, you are living a good life.

And making these kinds of decisions can become difficult, when the noise of life drowns out any chance of properly thinking … If you don’t have time for considered thought, have you ever investigated why that is? Could it be that you are filling your life with glittery nothings?

The silence contains all of the answers you need in life. Sit, thing, ponder, wonder, consider options, weigh the answers, and find the best one.

The spider thinks first, then acts