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The Value of Stoicism with Ken Kurson

Few know about stoicism or what it represents. In today’s day and age with anxieties justifiably riding high among so many, it’s understandable why it’s a practice that some have turned to. In a recent interview with Daily Stoic, Ken Kurson discussed his own journey to practicing stoicism. The interesting thing about the practice and […]

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Few know about stoicism or what it represents. In today’s day and age with anxieties justifiably riding high among so many, it’s understandable why it’s a practice that some have turned to. In a recent interview with Daily Stoic, Ken Kurson discussed his own journey to practicing stoicism. The interesting thing about the practice and related ones, is the value that people can find in escaping the noise and the stress of everyday life.

As such, stoicism is surely a practice and an exercise that is worthy of writing about and sharing with the general public. Stoicism is a school of philosophy that was founded in Athens in ancient times. It’s a philosophy of personal ethics that is informed by a system of views on the natural world that are pragmatic and practical. The path to happiness according to stoics, is the acceptance of the moment as it presents itself, no matter the circumstances. Surely this can be incredibly challenging; especially when the moment does not bring positivity, but instead is filled with a rejection or some other form of negativity. But stoics believe that it is critically important to not be controlled by the pursuit of either pleasure or the concern and fear of pain.

Instead, according to stoics it’s important to use one’s mind to understand the world and to simply do one’s part in nature’s plan. In doing so, stoics preach the value of working together and the importance of working together and treating others fairly and justly. What’s especially unique about Ken Kurson being a student and follower of stoicism, is the value it lends him in light of his professional work. Few fields could possibly be as emotionally charged and anxiety ridden as the fields of media and politics. Kurson has worked at the intersection of the two fields for the better part of the last two decades.

When reading about stoicism, and those who practice it, one doesn’t typically think of people working in high-stress environments being dedicated followers of the practice. For instance, in the media industry, with the amount of deadlines that one has to meet, it would surely be increasingly difficult for someone to be able to practice stoicism and have the time to dedicate toward it. But in this sense, Kurson’s personal story and study of stoicism is genuinely unique. He has embraced it not only in his work in the field of journalism; but also through his work in politics.  

One of the key tenets of stoicism is that one of the reasons to not get overly emotional concerning setbacks or too elated and overjoyed about success is that there does exist a sort of master plan. Indeed, in the telling of Ken Kurson and his own story of how he transitioned from his working in media at Observer, to working at Teneo Strategies, there was some stoicism at play, and there must have been a master plan indeed. In his own telling, Kurson was on a flight from San Francisco to New York, when he noticed the CEO of Teneo sitting just across from him. Better yet, his future employer was reading a book authored by a close friend of Kurson’s, and someone who worked under his leadership while he was editor in chief of Observer.

While at Observer, Kurson also promoted stoicism by publishing a number of very interesting writers on Stoicism. As a direct consequence of that, many millions of the Observer’s readers were exposed to the stoic philosophy due to Kurson’s direct advocacy. As Kurson rightfully points out, Stoicism is not what many people seem to think it is. Namely, it is not about enduring pain wordlessly or showing no emotion. Instead, stoicism provides a philosophical framework for all of the feelings that one might have, but that one might never have managed to coalesce into a coherent philosophical framework. When times are challenging or even not, stoicism is a practice that can be incredibly cathartic when exercised properly. It should be more widely known; and promoted to the masses.

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