I’ve been writing on Medium for just over 2 years now since it was recommended to me by one of my friends, a bestselling author. I’ve now published well over 100 articles on Stoicism there, have over 21k followers, and became one of the top 1,000 authors on the platform. I also founded my own online publication hosted by Medium, called Stoicism – Philosophy as a Way of Life, which has published nearly 500 articles on Stoicism from dozens of writers, ranging from newcomers to well-known authors. You can follow it on Medium or sign up to receive its email newsletter.
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How the Stoic Roman Emperor got his nickname
You’ve probably heard of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher. He’s the author of The Meditations, one of the most popular self-improvement classics of all time. Even if you’ve not read that book, maybe you saw Richard Harris playing him in the first act of the Russell Crowe movie Gladiator (2000).
Did you know that Marcus was also called Verissimus, though? This name means “most true” in Latin and it seems to have caught on, in part, because it naturally fitted his reputation as a philosopher, and a lover of wisdom.
Check out this video of me reading from my viral (!) article on Marcus Aurelius and the pandemic, published in The Guardian newspaper. You can read the article online, and feel free to share the link. Please follow our new @verissimusgraphicnovel Instagram account, if you want to see more content like this. Thanks!
Stoicism is experiencing a renaissance in popularity. This arguably started because it provided the philosophical inspiration for the pioneers of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) in the 1950s and 1960s. By the 1980s, CBT had become the leading evidence-based form of modern psychotherapy. However, around the start of the 21st century more and more self-help books influenced by Stoic philosophy began to hit the shelves.
My background is in both academic philosophy and CBT. I was among the first wave of authors to begin writing popular books on Stoicism. I focused on self-help techniques that combined ancient Stoic philosophy with modern research-based psychology. The Stoicism of ancient Greece and Rome contained a system of psychological therapy but there was also much more to it. It’s grounded in a philosophical worldview and a set of core ethical principles — what we call today a “virtue ethic”. However, even in the ancient world, people were often drawn to Stoicism initially because it held out the promise of relieving their emotional suffering and helping them to build greater mental resilience.
Although Stoicism is more popular now than ever, many people are still unsure how they’re supposed to practice the philosophy in daily life. “How exactly,” they ask, “does it promise to relieve our suffering?” I recently created a short email course to explain six of the most important psychological practices derived from ancient Stoicism. In this article, I’ll summarize and describe them for you…