There’s no way I can provide a full picture of Stoicism here or do justice to its extraordinary depth and power. It is a philosophy of life that answers the big questions people have always asked (what is the meaning of life? how should I live? what comes after death?) and instructs you in how to think, act, and live on a daily basis. It is built around respect for both the natural world and human nature, and it encourages people to improve their own characters and the world around them. Stoicism helps you cope with tragedy and suffering, as well as with prosperity and power. And it does all this with just a few core principles and practices that you can learn to apply in any situation.
If I make it sound like Stoicism is the answer to everything, well…it is, but of course, there’s a catch. It’s very hard, or even impossible, to be a perfect Stoic. In fact, most Stoics believe that there has never been anyone who reached all these ideals (that person would be called the Sage), but that it is something for us to aim for. In other words, the philosophy provides a guide, or a target for us to orient ourselves on the path of life. And that’s what we want, right? None of us will ever be perfect, but if we have a guidebook then we will at least know what we should try to do.
Another wonderful thing is that anyone can be a Stoic. Because Stoicism is not a religion, it is compatible with different faiths and religious traditions. Some people who practice Stoicism are also adherents of traditional religions, and many others are not. There is room for different interpretations and different levels of philosophical commitment.
If you are not yet familiar with the basic tenets of Stoicism, I recommend that you check out some of the books and websites below. I’ve tried to make Apparent Stoic useful for everyone, no matter how much you know (or don’t know) about Stoicism. But it will definitely enhance your understanding if you also read more about the core principles of Stoicism. And if you do wish to integrate Stoic practices into your own parenting, you will certainly need more guidance than this site alone can provide.
Here are some of the books and websites that have guided my understanding and that I recommend as a good introduction:
- A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, by William Irvine
- How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life, by Massimo Pigliucci
- Stoicism and the Art of Happiness, by Donald Robertson
- The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, by Pierre Hadot
- Spiritual Exercises and Ancient Philosophy, by Pierre Hadot
- The Art of Living: The Stoics on the Nature and Function of Philosophy, by John Sellars
- Epictetus: A Stoic and Socratic Guide to Life, by A. A. Long
And of course, don’t forget the original, ancient works of Stoicism:
- Discourses and Handbook, by Epictetus
- Letters to Lucilius, by Seneca
- Dialogues and Essays, by Seneca
- Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius
- Lectures and Sayings, by Musonius Rufus
There are many more great resources out there on Stoicism, and this is just a short list. Please contact me if you would like other recommendations. 🙂