This simple question can be surprisingly difficult to answer. Yet not taking an honest try at answering it (or even worse: ignoring the question entirely) can lead to the risk of misliving one's life. One of the main goals of ancient philosophy in the West was to help guide people in answering this question rigorously and well, and then helping people to live in accordance with their life's philosophy (literally "the love of wisdom").
One of the most successful and influential schools of thought in the ancient world which addressed this question was Stoicism. Stoicism taught that by cultivating personal excellence ('arete' in Greek) was all that was needed to lead a good life and flourish as a human being ('eudaimonia' in ancient Greek). To do this, the ancient Stoics taught a host of practices and a sophisticated theory of mind to help the Stoic student on the path to eudaimonia. Stoic philosophy had a huge influence on the West, from helping shape early Christianity to being a strong influence on the modern psychological movement of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
But Stoic philosophy is not only useful for those in the ancient world. For instance, James Stockdale has cited Stoic philosophy as helping him cope with the horrors of being a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Also, the University of Exeter in the UK has conducting pilot studies starting in 2012 of the effect of Stoic practices on various measures psychological well-being with promising preliminary results. Stoicism can be of great use to people in our modern era.
The goal of this meetup is to introduce Stoic philosophy as a way of life to people interested in living a more meaningful, tranquil life and to support experienced students of Stoic philosophy in their practice. While many of the meetups will be focused around reading, this is not a group for disengaged study of ancient philosophy from an academic perspective. Instead, this is a group for helping people to put Stoic philosophy into practice in their daily lives, so they can live the best life they can.
If you're interested in Stoicism as a philosophy of life, then join us today!
The Des Moines Stoics is part of the Stoic Fellowship (https://www.stoicfellowship.com), an international community whose aim is to foster the knowledge and practice of Stoicism through online and in-person activities throughout the world.
We will continue reading and discussing Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.
Please read books (chapters) 3-7. It is of course helpful and recommended, but not required, to have done the reading to attend.
I will be reading several translations, which I've listed below. Any one of these will be fine. There are other fine translations available as well.
Meditations: A New Translation translated by Gregory Hayes (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1168191.Meditations)
Meditations: With Selected Correspondence translated by Robin Hard, Christopher Gill
The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations translated by, David V. Hicks, C. Scot Hicks
Medications translated by George Long
Free eBook: (https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/marcus-aurelius/meditations/george-long)
There are plenty of reasonable priced physical books of this translation out there as well, such as:
Meditations (Dover Thrift Editions) https://www.amazon.com/dp/048629823X/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_FVlyDbQ4XW3VQ
Delphi Classics: Marcus Aurelius Complete Works: Features Haines’ translation from the Loeb Classical Library edition
eBook, low cost: (https://www.delphiclassics.com/shop/marcus-aurelius/)
You may also be interesting in watching this:
Marcus Aurelius' Meditations The Stoic Ideal (https://youtu.be/H5Ggt7DRK4A)