The Daily Stoic
- Control your perceptions
- Direct your actions properly
- Willingly accept what’s outside your control
- Have you taken the time to get clarity about who you are?
- You don’t control the situation, but you do control what you think about it
- Use your mind as a filter on the outside world
Practice the ability of having absolutely no thoughts about something
- Act as if you had no idea it ever occurred
- It’s better to produce the balance-sheet of your own life than that of the grain market
- Identify destructive patterns so they can be influenced in a more positive direction
- Bad luck is an opinion. Blame is an opinion. Accusation is an opinion. Let’s try to weed the opinions out. Things simply are.
- Check your impulses. They are subject to reservation.
- Real good is simple
- It’s too easy to ruminate on the past, too joyful to speculate on the future. Focus on the task at hand is hard.
- How you handle today is how you will handle every day.
- Focus on a few quality authors when it comes to books.
- Paradoxical intention—opposite thinking as a weapon.
- Events are objective. It’s only our opinion which states something as good or bad.
- Until our very end, we are unfinished products.
- Every day contains a lifetime.
The single most important practice in Stoic philosophy is differentiating between what we can change and what we can’t.
Knowledge—self-knowledge in particular—is freedom.
Control your perceptions. Direct your actions properly. Willingly accept what’s outside your control.
You don’t control the situation, but you control what you think about it.
“The essence of good is a certain kind of reasoned choice; just as the essence of evil is another kind. What about externals, then? They are only the raw material for our reasoned choice, which finds its own good or evil in working with them.
But in all circumstances—adversity or advantage—we really have just one thing we need to do: focus on what is in our control as opposed to what is not.
Find clarity in the simplicity of doing your job today.
Practice the ability of having absolutely no thoughts about something—act as if you had no idea it ever occurred.
Remember: even what we get for free has a cost, if only in what we pay to store it—in our garages and in our minds.
“In public avoid talking often and excessively about your accomplishments and dangers, for however much you enjoy recounting your dangers, it’s not so pleasant for others to hear about your affairs.”
It might make you feel good to dominate the conversation and make it all about you, but how do you think it is for everyone else?
Listen and connect with people, don’t perform for them.
Nobody thinks they’re wrong, even when they are. They think they’re right, they’re just mistaken.
“Were you to live three thousand years, or even a countless multiple of that, keep in mind that no one ever loses a life other than the one they are living, and no one ever lives a life other than the one they are losing. The longest and the shortest life, then, amount to the same, for the present moment lasts the same for all and is all anyone possesses. No one can lose either the past or the future, for how can someone be deprived of what’s not theirs?” —MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 2.14
Take a little time today to remember that you’re blessed with the capacity to use logic and reason to navigate situations and circumstances.
On tough days we might say, “My work is overwhelming,” or “My boss is really frustrating.” If only we could understand that this is impossible. Someone can’t frustrate you, work can’t overwhelm you—these are external objects, and they have no access to your mind. Those emotions you feel, as real as they are, come from the inside, not the outside.
We’d be crazy to want to face difficulty in life. But we’d be equally crazy to pretend that it isn’t going to happen.
dressed, in the right head space,
There are two ways to be wealthy—to get everything you want or to want everything you have.
What influences the ruling reason that guides your life? This means an exploration of subjects like evolutionary biology, psychology, neurology, and even the subconscious. Because these deeper forces shape even the most disciplined, rational minds. You can be the most patient person in the world, but if science shows we make poor decisions on an empty stomach—what good is all that patience?
To quote Fight Club again, “We buy things we don’t need, to impress people we don’t like.”
“When you first rise in the morning tell yourself: I will encounter busybodies, ingrates, egomaniacs, liars, the jealous and cranks.
we must fight our biases and preconceptions: because they are a liability. Ask yourself: What haven’t I considered? Why is this thing the way it is? Am I part of the problem here or the solution? Could I be wrong here?
Which will help your children more—your insight into happiness and meaning, or that you followed breaking political news every day for thirty years?
Stoicism has reached millions of people through what’s known as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
We’re constantly looking at the world around us and putting our opinion on top of it. And our opinion is often shaped by dogma (religious or cultural), entitlements, expectations, and in some cases, ignorance.
above all, be willing to learn from anyone and everyone, regardless of their station in life.
Part of what Epictetus is saying here is that attention is a habit, and that letting your attention slip and wander builds bad habits and enables mistakes.
By seeing each day and each situation as a kind of training exercise, the stakes suddenly become a lot lower. The way you interpret your own mistakes and the mistakes of others is suddenly a lot more generous. It’s certainly a more resilient attitude than going around acting like the stakes of every encounter put the championship on the line.
According to the Stoics, your mind is the asset that must be worked on most—and understood best.
Is it really beautiful to win the genetic lottery? Or should beauty be contingent on the choices, actions, and attributes we develop?
“Kindness is invincible, but only when it’s sincere, with no hypocrisy or faking. For what can even the most malicious person do if you keep showing kindness and, if given the chance, you gently point out where they went wrong—right as they are trying to harm you?”
Most rudeness, meanness, and cruelty are a mask for deep-seated weakness. Kindness in these situations is only possible for people of great strength. You have that strength. Use it.
Our ambition should not be to win, then, but to play with our full effort.
“If you don’t wish to be a hot-head, don’t feed your habit. Try as a first step to remain calm and count the days you haven’t been angry.
Instead of seeing philosophy as an end to which one aspires, see it as something one applies.
It’s important for us to remember in our own journey to self-improvement: one never arrives.
It’s fun to think about the future. It’s easy to ruminate on the past. It’s harder to put that energy into what’s in front of us right at this moment—especially if it’s something we don’t want to do.
Remember, Marcus Aurelius wasn’t writing his meditations for other people. He was actively meditating for himself.
The foundation of a free country is that your freedom to swing your fist ends where someone else’s nose begins. That is, someone else is free to do what they like until it interferes with your physical body and space. This saying can work as a great personal philosophy as well. But living that way will require two important assumptions. First, you ought to live your own life in such a way that it doesn’t negatively impose on others.
“Nothing is noble if it’s done unwillingly or under compulsion. Every noble deed is voluntary.”
If you find yourself trying to persuade someone to change or do something differently, remember what an effective lever self-interest is. It’s not that this or that is bad, it’s that it is in their best interest to do it a different way. And show them—don’t moralize.
The Stoics saw little purpose in getting angry or sad about things that are indifferent to our feelings. Especially when those feelings end up making us feel worse.
We can still live well without becoming slaves to luxury. And we don’t need to make decisions that force us to continue to work and work and work and drift further from study and contemplation in order to get more money to pay for the things we don’t need. There is no rule that says financial success must mean that you live beyond your means. Remember: humans can be happy with very little.
Your hidden power is your ability to use reason and make choices, however limited or small. Think about the areas of your life where you are under duress or weighed down by obligation. What are the choices available to you, day after day? You might be surprised at how many there actually are. Are you taking advantage? Are you finding the positives?
What if you spent one day a month experiencing the effects of poverty, hunger, complete isolation, or any other thing you might fear?
While you don’t control external events, you retain the ability to decide how you respond to those events. You control what every external event means to you personally.
The work of living is to set standards and then not compromise them. When you’re brushing your teeth, choosing your friends, losing your temper, falling in love, instructing your child, or walking your dog—all of these are opportunities. Not, I want to do good—that’s an excuse. But, I will do good in this particular instance, right now. Set a standard; hold fast to it. That’s all there is.
“Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will—then your life will flow well.”
To wish for what has happened to happen is a clever way to avoid disappointment because nothing is contrary to your desires. But to actually feel gratitude for what happens? To love it? That’s a recipe for happiness and joy.
Life is in a constant state of change. And so are we. To get upset by things is to wrongly assume that they will last.
Our faults are in our control, and so we turn to philosophy to help scrape them off like barnacles from the hull of a ship. Other people’s faults? Not so much. That’s for them to do.
1. Accept only what is true. 2. Work for the common good. 3. Match our needs and wants with what is in our control. 4. Embrace what nature has in store for us.
Seneca reminds us that while we might be good at protecting our physical property, we are far too lax at enforcing our mental boundaries. Property can be regained; there is quite a bit of it out there—some of it still untouched by man. But time? Time is our most irreplaceable asset—we cannot buy more of it.
We are unfinished products up until the end, as Marcus knew very well. But the earlier we learn it, the more we can enjoy the fruits of the labor on our character—and
As frightening as death might seem, remember: it contains within it the end of fear.