Do you consider yourself stoical? Do a bit of meditation or mindfulness practice? Buddhism and Stoicism have a lot to offer modern readers seeking the good life, but they’re also radical systems that ask much of their followers. In More than Happiness, Antonia Macaro delves into both philosophies, focusing on the elements that fit with our sceptical age, and those which have the potential to make the biggest impact on how we live. From accepting that some things are beyond our control, to monitoring our emotions for unhealthy reactions, to shedding attachment to material things, there is much, she argues, that we can take and much that we’d do better to leave behind.
In this synthesis of ancient wisdom, Macaro reframes the ‘good life’, and gets us to see the world as it really is and to question the value of the things we desire. The goal is more than happiness: living ethically and placing value on the right things in life.
|Publisher:||Icon Books, Ltd. UK|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||1 MB|
About the Author
Antonia Macaro is an existential psychotherapist, co-author of The Shrink and the Sage, and author of Reason, Virtue and Psychotherapy. She has many years’ clinical experience in the field of addictive behaviours. Antonia has a degree in Oriental Studies and an MA in Philosophy, and was part of the UK’s philosophical counselling movement from its early days.
Read an Excerpt
Whether or not we agree with the Stoic assessment of what is truly good or bad, it cannot be denied that we do often make the mistake of giving too much importance to things that are of little or no value. To avoid this error, we could adopt the method Chrysippus recommended for testing appearances, which involved asking two questions:
1. Is there good or bad at hand?
2. Is it appropriate to react?
You start feeling angry about someone being rude to you, for instance. You ask yourself Chrysippus' first question. For a Stoic, the answer to that would be no, because nothing external to us is truly good or bad. It then follows that the answer to the second question would also be no, it is not appropriate to react.
Challenging our perceptions of good and bad is hard. It’s particularly difficult to embrace the view that things like health, life and loved ones should all be indifferents, albeit 'preferred' ones. Some might find it impossible to agree that poverty is not an evil. An advantage of Chrysippus' exercise is that those who are struggling to let go of ‘irrational’ ideas about good and bad can concentrate on the second question. Even if their views are still flawed, they can begin to make progress by moving away from destructive behaviours that are not conducive to virtue. But, for the Stoics, in time we should move on to confronting our incorrect views of good and bad.
If we want to try out Chrysippus' exercise, then we must first question the value of what we’re getting distressed, or excited, about. Sometimes we’ll readily come to see that the issue is trivial. But even if we don’t, we could do with examining our reactions. Often we get carried away by negative emotions that lead us to react in unskilful ways. Even if on reflection we conclude that a response is in order, it’s best to consider calmly how to deal with the situation.
Table of Contents
1. SETTING THE SCENE
2. DUKKHA HAPPENS: WE SUFFER
3. MALADIES OF THE SOUL: WHY WE SUFFER
4. HOW TO BE SAVED 1: NIRVANA
5. HOW TO BE SAVED 2: LIVING IN ACCORDANCE WITH NATURE
6. MORE THAN HAPPINESS
7. REMOVING THE DUST FROM OUR EYES
8. THE SAGE AND THE BUDDHA: MODELS FOR LIVING
9. SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: BEYOND THEORY
10. CONCLUSION: MEDITATIONS FOR A BETTER LIFE