What Ancient Stoic Philosophers Can Teach Us About Happiness (& The Skills It Needs)
Our way of life needs a skills upgrade, to reinstall certain old stoic ideas. Using your rights well needs "happiness bootcamp" skills.
1. The best we can hope for is “life, liberty and the pursuit of” stoic happiness. And that means we all need “happiness bootcamp” (to learn how harmful equating “happiness” with what’s beyond your control is).
2. That’s one key lesson from How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life by Massimo Pigliucci (—>focus on your locus of control).
3. Stoics taught that we should desire the game, not only the win (the effort, not the goal). They were better “connoisseurs of human psychology” than many later experts (e.g., economists of the “unbehavioral” kind).
5. Stoics trained themselves in “virtues.” But virtue meant something different in Greco-Roman wrestling with life’s challenges (we typically see the term through 2,000 years of Christian accretions).
6. Early Christianity was strongly influenced by stoic ideas—for instance, the Gospel’s “In the beginning was the Word,” uses the word Logos, the stoic term for that which organizes nature (~Einstein’s god).
7. Stoic training involves three disciplines (of desires, actions, and reactions) and four capabilities (“courage, temperance, justice and practical wisdom” (—>the “cardinal” virtues—>logical life skills).
8. Stoics aimed to live “according to nature.” And human nature is driven to pursue “eudaimonia“ often loosely translated as “happiness.” Eu = good, daimon = demon/spirit, eudaimonia = good-spirited, flourishing (well-doing).
10. That founding phrase “pursuit of happiness” is poorly grasped now. Gary Wills has shown that Jefferson didn’t mean private hedonic happiness, but a public, scientific, measurable notion (from the Scottish Moral Sense school). It resembled virtue-skill-requiring eudaimonia more than a personal feelgood-now faith (—>Bentham’s bucket error).
11. Stoics held virtue to be “necessary and sufficient” for eudaimonia (=the good skilled life). Other approaches defined different virtues (e.g., Aristotle’s 12 included externals like wealth and wittiness) but modern studies converge on these six core, stoic-like, traits.
12. Worry only about what is in your power. Stoics treat all else with “indifference” (an indifferent can be preferred or dispreferred). By nature many projects have outcomes beyond your control. Enjoy success if it comes. If not, be content with having made your best effort.
13. Stoicism’s genius is to democratically bring a good (skilled) life within reach of all (wellborn or not, win or lose).
14. Skilled living grants an untroubled mind (“ataraxia”).
15. A win-centric life is folly for all but a lucky few (—>democracy ≠ “for the top people”).
16. Unhappy are they who ignore nature’s empirical limits.
17. Wise are they who use their liberty to pursue skillful living (—>“all skill is joyful”).
Illustration by Julia Suits, The New Yorker cartoonist & author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
By working together, and learning from one another, we can build better systems.
- Many of the things that we experience, are our imagination manifesting into this physical realm, avers artist Dustin Yellin.
- People need to completely rethink the way they work together, and learn from one another, that they they can build better systems. If not, things may get "really dark" soon.
- The first step to enabling cooperation is figuring out where the common ground is. Through this method, despite contrary beliefs, we may be able to find some degree of peace.
Great ideas in philosophy often come in dense packages. Then there is where the work of Marcus Aurelius.
- Meditations is a collection of the philosophical ideas of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
- Written as a series of notes to himself, the book is much more readable than the dry philosophy most people are used to.
- The advice he gave to himself 2,000 years ago is increasingly applicable in our hectic, stressed-out lives.
The periodic table was a lot simpler at the beginning of the universe.
- Michelle Thaller's "absolute favorite fact in the universe" is that we are made of dead stars.
- The Big Bang, when it went off, produced basically three elements: hydrogen, helium, and lithium. Every atom more complex had to be formed inside a star. Over time, stars such as the sun produce things like carbon and oxygen.
- They don't really get much more far off the periodic table than that. If you want to go any farther than the element iron, then you actually need a very violent explosion, a supernova explosion.
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