In Robin Hanson's blog discussing why middle aged people are most pessimistic, I suggested that maybe it's a point in life where we know too much horrible crap happening in the world, and it's making us miserable. And we're just before a point in which we've found a way to cope with the unending tragedies that are part of being alive. Maybe my cohort will become happier in a stoic manner - once we get our heads around how little control we have over the world, accept that many of these problems aren't ours to solve, and develop a tranquility around it all.
Then stoicism came up again in arguments about the relationship to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy via Lieter Reports, a N.Y. Times article by Kathryn Schulz about self-help books' suggested dualism of selfhood.
In the comments there's a brief argument about the success rate of CBT, immediately countered by a claim that reading Epictetus or Seneca renders the same results.
"Buddhism is simultaneously a burgeoning influence on the Western self-help movement and entirely at odds with it: anti-self, and anti-help. It is anti-help insofar as it emphasizes radical self-acceptance and also insofar as it emphasizes remaining in the present. (Improvement, needless to say, requires you to focus on the future.) It is anti-self in that it treats thoughts as passing ephemera rather than as the valuable products of a distinct and consistent mind."I agree, and this is something the Stoics get to as well. The worst problem with self-help books is the obsession with the self. People who are already thinking too much about their own lives get immersed in yet more ways to naval gaze. Stoicism (and CBT) take us out of our selves and into the larger world. Seneca said, "Place before your mind's eye the vast spread of time's abyss, and consider the universe; and then contrast our so-called human life with infinity." We're just little blips in the grand scheme of it all. So relax already.