‘Stoicism’ was a philosophy that flourished for some 400 years in Ancient Greece and Rome, gaining widespread support among all classes of society.
The Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus was born in 341 BC, on the island of Samos, a few miles off the coast of modern Turkey. He had an unusually long beard, wrote over three hundred books and was one of the most famous philosophers of his age.
Anyone we could marry would, of course, be a little wrong for us. It is wise to be appropriately pessimistic here. Nevertheless, one encounters some couples of such primal, grinding mismatch.
One of the things that makes us fall in love with people is realising they can do something we can't. We get attracted to people who seem capable and at ease with parts of life in which we struggle.
There are many nice things we want, but are somehow a little scared of getting, because they are bound up with risks and subtle inner complications we don't quite have a handle on.
There are sweet moments - early on in relationships - when one person can’t quite work up the courage to let another know just how much they like them.
It sounds strange to ask what a novel might be for. We tend not to wonder too much what role made-up stories should have in our lives. Generally we suppose we just read them for entertainment.
One of the ideals of modern relationships is that both parties will be ‘good communicators’. ‘Communication’ is held to lie at the heart of a thriving partnership.
It is one of the seven virtues in Christianity. It used to have a central place in Roman ethics and Judaism as well. Today, we remain deeply impressed by the idea of charity, but often from a distance.
People are understandably confused about what philosophy is. From a distance, it seems weird, irrelevant, boring and yet also - just a little - intriguing. But it’s hard to put a finger on what the interest really is.
It used to be when you’d hit certain financial and social milestones: when you had a home to your name, a set of qualifications on the mantelpiece and a few cows and a parcel of land in your possession.
We are - each one of us - probably more one than the other. The categories explain a lot about us; how we approach nature, what makes us laugh, our attitudes to love, what our politics are…
There are - when you start adding incidents up - rather a lot of things about you that your partner seems keen to change. They notice how you put off ringing your mother.
Almost certainly, you’ve been having a bad time at work. In a perfect world, work should do so much for us: lend us purpose and a sense of achievement, offer us meaning and comradeship.
Most weeks, someone mistreats us in a greater or lesser way: they overlook a commitment they’ve made, they let us down logistically, they betray our hopes or deceive our trust.
Everyone knows that at the beginning it happens all the time…and then, as relationships get longer, it doesn’t really any more. We say it’s because we’re too busy, or tired, or just not in the mood.
Media organisations want us to care about the bad stuff that is happening out there - and the best way they feel they can do this is to tell us about the gore, the bombs, the landslides, the murders and the calamities.
You try to set aside a special evening every now and then. That would have been absurd in the old days, you were alone so much of the time, but now there’s a need to schedule it in the diary way ahead of time.
Even though our minds ostensibly belong to us, we don’t always control or know what is in them. There are always some ideas, in the middle of consciousness, that are immediately clear to us.
In the US this weekend, and in other parts of the world at about this time, people celebrate Mother's Day – a ritual specially designed to allow children to take a moment to express their gratitude for their mothers.
For all of them, it started much as it will for you: a strangely persistent itch at the back of the head, a discomfort on the left side, a lump fingered in the shower.
Whenever something looks interesting or beautiful, there's a natural impulse to want to capture and preserve it – which means, in this day and age, that we're likely to reach for our phones to take a picture.
In a surprise move, the Netherlands' top cultural institution, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, has been turned into a giant therapeutic centre designed to help people with emotional issues.
A deep-seated desire in many thoughtful people is to try to change, and improve, how their fellow humans behave: to try to make them a bit kinder, or more moral, or interested in nature.
The most boring question one can ever direct at a religion is to ask whether or not it is ‘true’. Of course, none of its supernatural claims can ever be ‘true’ - but that may not be a reason to dismiss it.
In their more serious moods, news organisations tell us they want to explain the world to us. And that often means talking about money.
For almost all of human history, it has been unthinkable that someone could lay claim to maturity, sanity and reliability by pinning a picture by a six-year-old to the walls of their office, or throne room.
It’s far into the night, but sleep won’t come. You turn over. Perhaps a different position will quieten the mind. Or maybe the other side was better after all. Panic sets in. Not sleeping is a disaster.
Angela Merkel has just embarked on a third term as Chancellor of Germany - the most robust economy in the developed world and the country with the most traumatic political history on the planet.