How did you become interested in this area?
I studied philosophy as part of a PPE degree at Oxford, and it was a real eye-opener. The idea that we could think about how to be happy and lead good, worthwhile lives was life-changing. It started a wonderful journey from learning about the philosophy and psychology of well-being to teaching it and writing about it, a journey I am still enjoying.
What’s the most important concept or idea that you teach people?
That we each have the ability to think about how to live well, and that philosophy – and psychology – provide tools to help us do this. Also, that we shouldn’t be overwhelmed or intimidated by philosophy – it’s a practical tool for everyone. I combine philosophy (especially Stoicism) with CBT and psychology, and so see how it can be helpful in my everyday work with clients.
What do you think is the most important piece of practical advice that we can derive from your work?
Devote at least as much time to your philosophical development (in the broadest sense) and mental health as to your physical health. If you spend 30 mins exercising your body, invest at least 30 mins in developing your practical wisdom. Read a practical philosophy or psychology book. Get into the habit of daily philosophical exercises such as the Stoic early morning rehearsal of how you should spend your day and an evening review of how it went. The idea behind my new book, 365 Ways to Be More Stoic, is that “little and often” is a great way to go!
Do you have a favorite quote that you use?
The unexamined life is not worth living.Socrates
What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about what you do?
I would suggest reading one of my books. Wise Therapy is about how philosophy can help to therapists and it contains a lot of my philosophical thinking, aimed at the general reader. Achieve Your Potential with Positive Psychology provides a practical introduction to the science of well-being, drawing on philosophical ideas as well as psychology. My new book, 365 Ways to Be More Stoic, (edited by Kasey Pierce) is due to be published by James Murray in late 2022. It will provide a daily injection of Stoic wisdom – I hope it’s going to help many people start each day in a really positive way.
Suppose you were able to give a talk or workshop at the original location of Plato’s Academy…
I’d be very excited by the prospect. Talk about standing on the shoulders of giants!