Everytime I read a new chapter of Stoicism and The Art of Happiness by Donald Robertson I smile to myself. The ancient stoics were on a journey to reach eudaimonia or in lay mans (womans) terms the good life. For them being wise and a good person was both necessary and sufficient to enjoy a good life. For some reason everytime I read the ‘good life’ I am constantly reminded of the TV comedy that graced our screens during the 70s.
Tom Good decides to make some changes on hitting a milestone birthday. He convinces his wife to join him in his bid to wave goodbye to the rat race by living a simple self sufficient life. They convert their suburban home into a farm, planting crops and bringing in farm animals. This new departure unsettles their very proper neighbours as the Good’s adventures into the good life brings many mishaps and lots of laughter.
Over the past few years I have been trying to be somewhat self sufficient by
growing trying to grow vegetables in a little green house we inherited from our in laws. I have so far managed a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes, various herbs, mostly mint and parsley,and lots of lettuce.
While my crop may not be huge or varied, and the bumper crop of tomatoes was last year, the experience of sowing and tending the pots has been really beneficial. It is quite calming and relaxing to head outside and get my hands dirty. I get a great sense of satisfaction from seeing the seeds start to sprout and grow into strong plants. Sure not to worry that I have nothing on the table to show for it. Haven’t I peace of mind and a tranquil quiet space to head out to when I need it?
I agree with the Stoics and with Robertson, wisdom and virtue are attributes that don’t fall neatly onto your lap. For them to flourish they must be practised, encouraged and nurtured. In today’s world where instant gratification is king attributes that need time, that can’t be honed by throwing money at them are often forgotten and neglected.
I’m really enjoying Robertson’s book. I find that I am nodding in agreement with much, if not all, of what he writes. Perfecting the art of self control is a huge part of the stoic’s philosophy. As is recognising what is good and worth choosing because according to Robertson the majority of people mistakenly believe that external objects are good and so experience a want and desire for those things that are outside of their control. He explains that the Stoics felt that this lead to frustration and suffering.
Much like the frustrations that exist within the capitalist structures that form much of society today. Chasing the dream is supposed to lead to well being, fulfillment and happiness yet we see people who are stressed out and starved of time.
So as you can see, my minds at sixes and sevens and is full of ideas and opinions. Not only is stoicism quieting my mind it is encouraging me to think a little deeper than I have been in quite some time. Apologies if this post is chaotic!
In other news, I have been busy finishing projects that I had started but hadn’t found the time or the commitment to complete. It’s brilliant, rather than procrastinating about all I have to do I’m actually doing it!
While I am practising the art of stoicism I am wise enough to recognise that I am far from being a sage. However, the act of practising the art is hugely beneficial and it is only through practise that we can hope to perfect our skills. While it is very early days I am recognising the benefits already.
I hope that you all have a great weekend where ever it is you may be. Take care and I’ll leave you with a quote from my favorite Shakespeare play;
The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool. ~William Shakespeare, As You Like It
Slán agus beannacht