Stoic Philosophy and REBT

  The gods have released you from accountability for your parents, your siblings, your body, your possessions – for death and for life itself. They made you responsible only for what is in your power – the proper use of impressions. So why take on the burden of matters which you cannot answer for? You are only making unnecessary problems for yourself.”                           ~Epictetus


Hi there REBT Mates!

In developing REBT, Dr. Ellis took inspiration from a number of sources including the Greek Stoic philosophers such as Epictetus and the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius.  The quote above could easily be taken directly from basic REBT texts.  The same idea is also expressed in the  Serenity Prayer  written  by  an American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhras, and popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”
Which I have taken the liberty of a minor edit to make it more secular and empowering.

 I am growing the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”

Precursors also appear in Buddhist, Jewish and other traditions as well.

To me, the he principle and sentiment expressed would seem to be universal, and clearly strikes an intuitive resonance for many who come in contact with it. The real challenge however, is not simply to fawn over how “cool” it is. The real challenge is to apply it in one’s life on a daily basis.

By the way, the original meaning of the word stoic is a little different than the modern cliche of the  British maintaining a “stiff upper lip” in the face of adversity. But that slight difference is significant and one of the first things to investigate on your journey.

How to?

Learning and being engaged with REBT-CBT is one obvious way.  Mindfulness meditation and practice is another.  Neither are the only ways, not hardly, but they are readily available and do not have a steep learning curve compared to some other disciplines and practices.

If you want to learn to practice stoicism, needless to say, going direct to the ancient and modern Stoic Philosophers is an obvious path. Here is a modest selection accessible and appropriate for beginners as well as those more advanced. As a start, I would recommend Stoicism and the Art of Happiness  by Stoic philosopher and teacher, and CBT Therapist, Donald Robertson.

Let’s get started today, shall we?



Meditations: A New Translation, ~Marcus Aurelius

Discourses and Selected Writings of Epictetus


Letters from a Stoic, ~Seneca

A Guide to the Good Life, ~William B. Irvine

How to Be a Stoic, ~Massimo Pigliucci

Stoic Philosophy as Rational and Cognitive Psychotherapy, ~Donald Robertson


by Donald Robertson

The Daily Stoic, ~Ryan Holiday


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Originally posted 2017-07-12 00:14:10.

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