For the Sake of Happiness
Stoic Therapy is Happiness Therapy
Are you happy? I don’t mean the good feeling after receiving a compliment. I mean the kind of good feeling that persists through an insult, that sustains through a setback, that maintains through misfortune. I’m talking about lasting happiness, not some brief bliss, or some ephemeral emotional experience. I’m asking about something stable, something sustainable.
Everyone wants to be happy. Everything is done for the sake of happiness, as Arius Didymus tells us. Happiness (εὐδαιμονία or eudaimonia), as defined in Stoicism, is not some fleeting felicity, some pithy pleasure. Instead, it is an abiding inner peace, a persistent peace of mind, a consistent contentment with the world.
Stoicism is the Solution
The philosophy of Stoicism has the complete solution — not to imply that it will be easy. Stoicism defines happiness, and explains why it is the primary goal. More directly, Stoicism explains how to make progress toward it. Best of all, Stoicism is a philosophy that embraces formal reason. It won’t ask you to agree with hoaky doctrines. This is a practical philosophy of life that is well reasoned and remains relevant today; Stoicism is happiness therapy.
Lasting happiness is a smooth flow of life. It is smooth because it is not interrupted. It is impervious to adversity. It is stable and sustainable. And it cannot be bought or sought directly. Most importantly, lasting happiness is a consequence of the pursuit of reason. As such, it is implausible to merely happen upon it. Living the good life is a skill, not something that lands in your lap. It is something that you make, not receive.
Reason is required both to be happy and stay happy. Epictetus said that when one makes a mistake, one is not doing what one wishes. When one wishes to be happy and one is not doing what one wishes, unhappiness is produced. Therefore, each mistake produces unhappiness. The only way to hit the target of happiness is to know how to aim for it in the first place. Reason is the source of your aim.
Obstacles to Overcome
There are several things that can stop someone from pursuing lasting happiness. First, one must have heard of Stoicism, and then one must become curious about or interested in it. This is the crucial stage, because now there are many barriers to learning Stoicism.
Stoicism is an ancient philosophy, and so what we know depends upon translations of ancient texts. And some translations are much better than others. A poor translation can confuse and mislead. I have provided quality translations in the resources section of this website, so this is one barrier removed.
Terminology is a related problem. For example a passion refers to an unreasonable state, not a romantic inclination, and virtue means excellence and does not have a religious implication. There has also been a surge in non-scholarly literature about Stoicism, referred to as pop-Stoicism. Pop-Stoicism is also misleading. As before, quality information is provided freely on the resources page.
As one begins to learn, several things will seem strange at first, though each is well reasoned. One must change multiple perspectives, and it is not easy to change your perspective. For instance, most people highly value some things, and Stoicism will demonstrate that it is mistaken to value them, except when they
participate in virtue — when they can be used but only in a certain way. Our sessions is a perfect place to ask questions and get answers.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle is that it is an analytic philosophy. Some have misinterpreted Stoicism as being primarly about virtue and other things. But the root of Stoicism is its logic, and every ethical doctrine derives from it. Although other philosophies may be read lightly, to do so with Stoicism is to shortchange yourself.
I am here to help you overcome these obstacles. There has never been a better time to start your self-improvement. Lasting happiness is a worthwhile goal.
A Short Demonstration about Desire
Many people think that pleasure is the path to happiness. They eat whatever pleases them, do whatever they desire, and suffer whenever their desire or will is thwarted.
A Roman named Musonius Rufus shows us that Stoic logic is useful when we discover something that is not plain or obvious by using premises that are plain or obvious. He provides an example regarding pleasure:
But starting from the generally accepted premise that every good is desirable and adding to it a second equally accepted that some pleasures are not desirable, we succeed in proving that pleasure is not a good.
Here’s the argument:
Everything good is [worth choosing].
But not every pleasure is [worth choosing].
Therefore not every pleasure is a good.
To put the conclusion another way: pleasure is not (categorically) a good. It is not the case that every pleasure is a good, and so pleasure itself is not a good. To lead by example, adultery may be a pleasure of the moment, but it is not a good. And so the life of the hedonist, the pursuit of pleasure, is not the path to lasting happiness.
Similarly, the path to lasting happiness does not require money, a beautiful partner, health, or two-day shipping. The only necessity for lasting happiness is reason. And Stoicism is your best and only guide to reason as it pertains to happiness.
Stoic Therapy is Happiness Therapy
Stoicism is the perfect union of practicality, reason, wisdom, and happiness. Stoic Therapy, LLC is the first dedicated and orthodox Stoic therapy available in the US. I enjoy it down to the most rigorous details of logic and ancient Greek. Stoicism stands on its own merits as philosophical therapy, without needing to be re-interpreted — in only bits and pieces, mind you — into the mental health industry. Tranquility awaits: you have found your modern source of traditional Stoic therapy.
Learn More About Stoic Therapy
Unhappiness is a call to action. When you have a negative emotion, a bad feeling, or an unpleasant experience — and when you agree with that assessment of it — this is all the evidence you need to know that a mistake is being made, and there’s a better way.
Call (860) 960-6711 now to set up an appointment. We can talk in the office in Farmington CT, or anywhere with Duo or Skype. Welcome to Stoic therapy.