Confessions and Reflections on Beginning Stoic Week

StoicLawyer hasn’t been updated in a little over a year. In that time, I’ve: left private practice; worked in an in-house position; all but had a complete mental breakdown; tried my damnedest to ruin and end my marriage; confronted flaws that have plagued me in silence for much of my life; reformed and improved my relationship with my wife; left my in-house position; and returned to the private practice of law. Through all of that, I’ve continued to read and study Stoicism. And I thought I was living it.

Stoic Week 2013 starts Monday.  The first step for participation is a series of pre-study questionnaires to gauge items such as satisfaction with life, the balance between positive and negative feelings, and (most tellingly for me) the extent of Stoic attitudes and behaviors.  My answers revealed what I should have been able to tell from the past year; although I understand a great deal about Stoic thought and history, I am not living like a Stoic.

Here are a few examples from my pretests:

Positive and Negative Emotions Scale  (how often over the past four weeks have you felt…)

SPANE results

Stoic Attitudes and Behaviors Scale

SABS #19 SABS #2223

Those weren’t the answers I wanted to give, but they were true. In fact, I think the last two were on the conservative side. I probably should have answered both with “disagree.”

But I have a remedy. One of the insights from Stoic thought is that the present is the only moment in which we can act; the only one that is “real.” The past is beyond my ability to control. So for me, Stoic Week 2013 is going to be a boot camp or 7-day cleanse type of exercise. Each day of Stoic Week, I can take a quote from my early Latin lessons and say “ME PHILOSOPHIAE DO!” By doing that for a week, I can start to build a habit that will lead me back to practicing living a Stoic life every day.

I intend to post progress every day of Stoic Week, and I invite you to join me in the experiment.  Take the pretests and download the Stoic Week Handbook before Monday, November 25.  Learn for yourself why the Financial Times and the UK’s Channel 4 have noted the tremendous history and growth of Stoic thought.

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