Stoic Week 2013 - Part 1


I awoke today at around 5am - feeling refreshed after a few sleepless nights. I cannot remember my dreams, but as I will explain - it was beyond my control but (if I have not got the wrong end of the stick) I know it was beyond my control and I accept that.

Whilst my parents were drivin g up to see my ill Granny in the Highlands I tuned into BBC Radio 4. There was an academic on the show being aired (around eight thirty) who eloquently spoke about the Stoic Philosophers from ancient Greece - he announced a project being run by the University of Exeter for the duration of this week imaginatively entitled Stoic Week 2013.”

I only managed to check out the site later on in the day so I was a bit late to jump on-board officially but I will conduct the exercises and Blog about it here - with the oh so handy tag; Stoic Week (please see the Tags section at the bottom of the post).

Right, you have had the veg. Now for the meat of the post.

Some things are under our control, while others are not under our control. Under our control are conception [the way we define things], intention [the voluntary impulse to act], desire [to get something], aversion [the desire to avoid something], and, in a word, everything that is our own doing; not under our control are our body, our property, reputation, position [or office] in society, and, in a word, everything that is not our own doing.”         - Epictetus, Handbook 1

The downloadable handbook asks the participant to examine a situation from their life and asks questions about that situation. Seeing I missed the start of it, and I am eager to join in, I will post the replies up here. The theme of the first lunch time meditation was What is in our power?”

So, here we go ….

  1. What’s the situation?

Waking up at an unreasonable hour not having a good nights sleep - not even being able to recollect my dreams, which are a great source of comfort.

  1. How much control do you have over the situation as a whole (0-100%)?


  1. Why isn’t it 100%? What aspects don’t you have direct control over?

Sleep is sleep as eggs are eggs. I am a bit ill (Schizophrenia) so sleep disruption is a weekly occurrence - it is a factor of life. It happens. I live with it.

  1. Why isn’t it 0%? What aspects do you have direct control over?

Whether I have a good nights sleep depends on the time of year more than anything I can do - Sure, if I get into a more predictable routine I would not wake up two hours before my alarm was meant to go off.

  1. What would happen if you made a conscious effort to adopt a more Stoic attitude towards this situation by completely accepting things beyond your control, and taking full responsibility for things under your control?

After a year’s stretch of weekly Counselling (with a Psychologist) I have learned to alter my world view and accept the little big things as little things. For example - if I had not awoken at 5am I would not have rebuilt my photography website into something where I can now offer web design (please see here). In essence, if I adopted a more stoical point of view, I would be happy no matter what scrapes my illness / life / Kat throws at me. Hell, I think I am an amateur Stoic.

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