- People should pursue eudaimonia - fulfilment rather than constant happiness
- People should think more carefully about their lives, as intuition and ‘common sense’ are often wrong - comparable to being dragged by blindfolded wild horses.
- Beautiful objects and architecture give us a sense of the good, and invite us to evolve in that direction too.
- Societies should: look up to the right people (modest, experienced, charitable); censor demagoguery; educate children in how to be good people, not just in facts; play an active role in raising children.
- Virtue ethics: people should aim to cultivate distinct virtues that lie at a ‘golden mean’ between extremes. For example: Rashness < Courage > Cowardice; Shyness < Modesty > Shamelessness. Building virtues takes time and deliberate practice.
- A role of tragic art is to remind us that bad things happen to good people like ourselves, so we should have more compassion.
- True friendship is very valuable: shared joy, sorrows.
- Rhetoric and persuasion: necessary to soothe fears and help people make sacrifices by understanding their emotions. To be effective, cater to short attention spans, using lively illustration and examples.
Stoics, incl. Seneca & Marcus Aurelius
- To address anxiety, don’t try to persuade yourself (or another) that the worst case won’t happen; instead assume that it will, but realise that you will cope anyway.
- Practise living through a bad situation to realise you will survive: e.g. for a week, sleep on a hard floor and eat stale bread.
- Expect disappointment and tragedy so that they make you sad, but not angry too. “What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears.”
- Fortuna, goddess of luck and fortune, has an important influence on life. Recognise this, instead of assuming the permanence of your current situation, or a false meritocracy.
- Working on something fulfilling - helping others, in a small group - is more important than money. Dreams of luxury are a misplaced search for internal calm, but calm comes from having time to self-reflect and understand our internal worries.
- Friendships are reliable sources of happiness, as people are more likely to seek agreement and avoid jealousy, in comparison to romantic relationships.
- He established a commune with friends so they could see each other frequently, work together on low-paid but satisfying projects, and spend time on self-reflection. Influenced monasteries and Marxist communism.