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Monday, January 17, 2005 

Stoicism /= Repression

Interesting article on stoicism in the Globe And Mail that was passed on by Aaron, but I do have a few problems with McDonald's stance. Stoicism is not the repession of negative emotions, it is not saying "Fine" whenever you are asked how you are doing. It is not hiding how you really feel. It is about changing how you really feel by (among other things) really thinking about what's important and what is within our power.

McDonald, instead of focusing on how to lead a good life (as opposed, for example, to an easy life), gets bogged down in the little details. If you're burdening casual acquaintences with a half-hour long litany of complaints when they ask you how your day was then yes, your priorities are off (and you are annoying). But if you're sitting down with your best friend and they know you've had a tough week and when asked your response is "I'm fine", you may very well be repressed.

Meanwhile the part of McDonald's article that bears thinking about, that should be focused on, is actually summed up quite beautifully in one sentence:

"Yes, loss is sad, but where is the comfort in bitterness?"

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Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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