Enda Harte is student of Stoicism who lives in Ireland and works in the music industry.
Under the moniker The Irish Stoic, he writes on Medium and publishes engaging content on social media.
It was great to be able to interview Enda recently. His well-informed answers, which you can find below, feature excellent advice and recommendations for Stoics at any point in their philosophical journey.
You can find Enda online here:
For those who don’t know you, can you explain a little about yourself and how you first discovered Stoicism?
I am Enda Harte, I currently live in Ireland with my partner and for almost a decade now I’ve worked in the Music Industry as a Digital / A&R / Tour Manager for Artists, Music Technology Companies & Independent Record Labels globally. I have a keen interest in combat sports, trail running and outdoor living. As we speak, I’m training and working towards a diploma/master’s degree in the mental health / mindset coaching Sector as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist & fate permitting a writer of books.
I came across Stoicism about 6 years ago when I was travelling. Like many stories I’ve heard, this will sound quite clichéd although no less true. When I was in London, I walked into a bookstore to pass an hour before a conference I was attending. I passed by the Philosophy section (which I had no prior interest in), here the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, and the other core texts of Epictetus and Seneca the Younger were placed front and centre, plus I remember also looking at an Epicurean Philosophy book. As I flicked through the books, I remember finding them thought-provoking, but didn’t make a purchase of these.
As I was studying Business and Marketing at University, I actually picked up and bought one of Ryan Holiday’s books: It’s called “Growth Hacker Marketing”, (before he wrote exclusively about Philosophy). There may have been a few references or quotations in that book of the Stoic nature and since that day in the bookstore, I liked the idea of Stoic Philosophy. I then decided to conduct my own research online, including signing up to newsletters, and looking at YouTube content. To cut to the point, the quotations and few exercises I saw were indicative of the things that my Grandfather and Father said whilst I was growing up (they didn’t talk about Philosophy although, but almost seemed to mirror the actions of how the Philosophers wrote). Seeing as they were and are two resilient, hard-working men, I thought learning more about the Stoics would assist me in a similar direction.
How has Stoicism changed/benefited you since first discovering it?
It’s changed my life and how I approach everything from business, relationships and understanding people from different cultures, as well as opening my cognitive functions to understand and believe the possibility of being a genuine and good person is well within my reach. The parallels I’ve seen in the teachings of Stoic Philosophy and compact research of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for instance have led me to begin study in order to achieve an accreditation and if the fates allow it, one day I’ll practice psychology as a profession, not only with the aim of helping others, but using it to assist my daily life too. Currently, as I’m writing this it’s about 5/6 years into my daily reading and practice and I can’t now remember a time before Stoicism and using it as a guide for living. Especially in the last few years, I’ve upped my studying time and practice through actually writing, focusing my research on how the ancient Stoics lived, plus using the ethical teachings of not just the ancients, but modern academics and practitioners to fuel my thirst for wisdom and trying to become a better version of myself each year.
The most valuable thing I’ve learned is, focusing on internals, it’s taken me many years of attempt and daily practice to get to that point, but accepting reality as it is and focusing on what I can control in my daily life, I feel has aided in me getting to the point of financial independence and relative freedom in my mid 20s. Of course, I need to credit and acknowledge that it wouldn’t be possible without a strong support network around me of my fellow comrades, but practising Stoicism daily is key to how I think about living and genuinely helped me deviate away from chasing material pleasures without being a full-blown “Minimalist”.
You recently started publishing your writing on Medium, what can readers expect from your articles?
So far I’ve been writing articles with the assistance of my girlfriend, as she’s got a very strong background in History and Anthropology. To begin with, we are focusing on the “lives’ and times” approach of the early Stoics. Although we don’t have a particular order of focus for these articles, I feel delving into the lives of the early Stoics in Ancient Greece and Rome right up until say the 20th Century can help us all learn how they actually used Philosophy. Unfortunately, a lot of the writings and accounts of these folk in ancient times are lost to antiquity, but anything I can dig up, I’ll do my best to share with readers. I would love to explore and delve into the lives of 21st Practitioners and writers too. Perhaps getting these first-hand accounts of not only how they use the ancient writings, but how they go about their daily lives would be a great account for future generations too!
The articles on Medium will delve into everything from early teachings, anecdotes of their lives and as much detail as possible on their moral codes, no matter their background or upbringing. Which in a way can prove that practising Stoicism is a worthwhile pursuit for anyone looking to improve their standing in life.
Currently, I’m writing articles around the mantras and aphorisms associated with Stoicism (such as Memento Mori & Mens Sana In Corpore Sano) in the 21st century, which will include a deep dive into the history of the phrases throughout time, as well as a balanced section on how to use these sayings appropriately, ultimately equating to action in your daily life. They’ll be available to read on various publications and, I’ll share these on my social accounts in the near future, fate permitting.
You post some great content on social media – from a Stoic point of view how important is it to actually connect and engage with others on these platforms in addition to producing content for them?
Thank you for the kind words, that means a lot to me, especially coming from you providing so much content and knowledge for the Stoic community yourself.
I started my Instagram account “The Irish Stoic” about 2 to 3 years ago for perhaps a more selfish reason. I wanted to remind myself to practice Stoicism everyday, and creating content (which is part of my work life) based on Stoicism has helped me personally to keep it moving.
It was quite difficult pre-pandemic to practice daily as I was travelling so much with work and the unpredictable schedules of DJs and Artists can be testing, plus I know the Stoics talk about being a citizen of the cosmopolis and not to be too concerned about borders and imaginary boundaries, but the name was catchy for me and worked out wonderfully to be discovered by fellow people who reside in Ireland and want to know more about Stoicism.
This led to me creating the “Stoics of Ireland” group with the Stoic Fellowship organisation, and later in the year we will plan a series of meet-ups with some of my fellow country folk to discuss Stoic Philosophy and living well (we hope).
Creating the content started out solely for myself as a reminder, but has led me to influence thousands of interesting people globally, including yourself. I’ve connected with 100s of people on my accounts so far, and I enjoy reading messages and answering some questions when I feel like I have a qualified and logically driven answer. Without those Instagram and Twitter accounts, I most likely wouldn’t be answering this interview, so fortune has been kind to me with these accounts! I am incredibly grateful.
Of the four Stoic virtues, which do you feel is the most difficult to practice? And do you have any advice for those struggling with it?
This is an interesting question, and funnily enough, I’ve been thinking a lot about it recently. Many of the Stoics both modern and of the past, talk about living by those virtues, and you should frequently ask yourself if you are being Wise, Just, Courageous and Moderate in your decisions. The reality is unless you are already in the guise of being a “sage” or some kind of secluded Monk / Spiritual leader – these are difficult to follow in my opinion even for those above-mentioned.
To get to the point of this question, temperance or “moderation” is quite difficult for me, especially during the pandemic. Over the last 1.5 years, when I relate it to eating habits, exercise and media consumption or taking on too much music work and responsibilities in general.
I imagine the majority of people may have similar feelings on these but for me I had to spend time again practising how to get better at saying no to extra work (I’m still grateful for the opportunities no less), slowing down my schedule this year (which took a lot of effort) and this allowed me to get on top of my habits including eating leaner, cutting down alcohol & sugary food consumption, and being outdoors as much as possible to enjoy the spoils of Mother Nature at it’s finest.
I spent time on the internet and with books understanding the virtues and non-Stoic self-improvement books to assist in getting the better of this. Google “Stoicism + Cardinal Virtues, and that’s a good place to familiarise yourself with what this all means if you’re unfamiliar. There are many decent guides for modern living under the original proposed virtues of Stoicism.
To combat this in some sense, one piece of advice is that I carry a coin with me in my pocket and have a Cardinal Virtues plaque on my office desk to assist me with this form of practice. This has been very effective for me, believe me, I wouldn’t be practising these virtues as much without these physical reminders. Again, as mentioned above, without these Stoic virtues at the back of my mind, I wouldn’t consider myself as well-rounded as I am at the time of writing now. I’m sure I’ll slip up at some point in the near future too, but as-long as you can return to the practices and the reminders of the Philosophy with the added skill of Discipline, it’s getting easier to get back on track each time.
Which modern resources do you recommend aspiring Stoics check out? (e.g. blogs, podcasts, books, social media)
Here are a selection of accounts and resources that have helped me get on top of daily practice:
Book: The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman: for reminders to practice and read about Stoicism every day.
Book: William Irvine: A Guide to the Good Life – Great book if you want to learn how someone integrated Stoicism into their life later in life, with fantastic primary source examples in accordance with Stoic teachings.
Book: Philosophy in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds: Peter Adamson – Great long form read for anyone interested in the origins & principles of Stoicism + other Philosophies from the time.
Journal: The 5-Minute Stoicism Journal – Matthew Van Natta: If you’re interested in starting to Journal about your train of thought and relate it to Stoic practice, this is a great place to start, and literally takes less than 5 minutes to complete daily.
Physical Reminder: The Four cardinal virtues challenge deck from The Stoic School in the U.K: 52 cards with tippets of wisdom and questions that allow you to follow along with the virtues of Stoicism.
Youtube: Einzelgänger Philosophy: If you like to learn from videos this channel covers topics on every kind of style of Philosophy throughout history (Including well narrated videos of how to practice techniques based on Ancient teachings)
Instagram: Stoa Daily (quotes and articles)
Twitter: The Maestro – Donald Robertson: Cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist, Stoic Writer and Trainer. Posts questions, resources and tips daily.
Website: The Aurelius Foundation: (blog, lectures on Stoicism and interviews)
Blog: Stoicism: Philosophy as a Way of Life (Medium Publication)
Blog: Figs in Winter: The Art of Philosophy, Ethics and Science, the all purpose reference site of the Professor and Stoic writer: Massimo Pigliucci
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Enda. Finally, the question I ask all interview guests – in terms of what the philosophy means to you, What is Stoicism?
It’s been a great pleasure to answer these questions my friend. Stoicism to me is a guidance system for living. To be considered a student of the school you must learn, practice and apply its teachings regularly. Stoicism allows you to control your emotional state of response, and when practiced in the long term allows for the domestication of negative emotions, which make room for critical thinking in a more positive but present and pragmatic state of mind (which we know to be the term tranquility).
For me, Stoicism represents being grateful for what I have, not over-reaching for what I want. Taking accountability for what I do in every aspect of life (it’s one of the limited things we can control) and ultimately giving me peace of mind in my choices and decisions, whether they result in favourable, negative or indifferent outcomes.
Finally, Stoicism is a form of inner strength with our ability to use reason in order to improve, this in turn allowing us the confidence to go out into the open world and deal with people from all walks of life, in the hope of acting Wise, Just, Courageous and showing Self Restraint with the majority of situations we find ourselves in.