Everyday Stoicism

Contrary to what you might think, based on the focus of most of the posts on this site, we don’t necessarily believe there’s always a technological solution to every problem. In fact, for many areas in life, I’ve often found the right life hack for my particular need may be discovered at perhaps the opposite end of the spectrum: philosophy.

In particular, the Ancients really knew how to live well and started hacking great ways to deal with the effects of technology from the moment Prometheus gave us fire. For example, I don’t make it to the theater as much as I’d like anymore, but whenever I do, I take a page from Epictetus:

When you are going about any action, remind yourself what nature the action is. If you are going to bathe, picture to yourself the things which usually happen in the bath: some people splash the water, some push, some use abusive language, and others steal. Thus you will more safely go about this action if you say to yourself, “I will now go bathe, and keep my own mind in a state conformable to nature.” And in the same manner with regard to every other action. For thus, if any hindrance arises in bathing, you will have it ready to say, “It was not only to bathe that I desired, but to keep my mind in a state conformable to nature; and I will not keep it if I am bothered at things that happen.”

Okay, so we don’t have public baths anymore, but this technique works well in movie theaters, lines at amusement parks, restaurants, or pretty much anywhere you intend to enjoy yourself around other people. Seriously, I consider this passage with many deep breaths at almost every movie I attend. It works.