The Daily Stoic

The Daily Stoic

dailystoic.com
The audio companion to DailyStoic.com’s daily email meditations, read by Ryan Holiday.Each daily reading will help you cultivate strength, insight and wisdom necessary for living the good life. Every word is based on the two-thousand plus year old phil?


You’re Not That Important
Jul 19 • 3 min
A few weeks ago, a horse at The Preakness threw its jockey right out of the gate and kept running. Like really kept running…
This Is Universal
Jul 18 • 3 min
Traveling—that itch to get away, to hit the road, to see the world—feels like a distinctly modern craze. Yet it was common in Ancient Rome for people to escape the heat and the frenzy of the bustling city to get away for some time in the countryside…
Are You Self-Aware?
Jul 17 • 3 min
Evan Thomas, in his incisive and humanizing biography of Richard Nixon, asks a penetrating question: How many great men of history were truly self-aware? Nixon surely wasn’t. Bill Clinton, caught red-handed—or rat…
Nothing Wrong With Nice Stuff
Jul 16 • 2 min
Seneca was a very rich man. He had nice stuff. Critics at the time, and ever since, have found this to be indisputable proof of …
These Things Have No Power Over You
Jul 15 • 2 min
So much has happened in the past. We’ve messed up. We’ve been hurt. We’ve missed opportunities and we’ve embarrassed ourselves. So much can happen in the future, as well. Not only can all those same mistakes happen again, but we also hav…
We Must Increase What We Have Been Given
Jul 11 • 3 min
In the Book of Matthew, we are told of the parable of the talents. Three servants are left sums of money (talents) by their master. The first, who the master believed was m…
Assume Everyone Is Lying
Jul 10 • 3 min
You’ve probably caught yourself doing it. Life has been rough or depressing, but your social media feed looks awesome. Someone asks how much money you make or how sales on your project were, and you round up quite a bit. Or maybe you’re sim…
Pity The Ego
Jul 9 • 3 min
The Stoics were not unacquainted with awful people. They saw tyrants. They saw cheats. They saw toxic egomaniacs and insatiable ambitions. And what was their reaction to most of these people?Aside from a general wariness and a desire not to b…
Just A Few Seconds Of Courage
Jul 8 • 4 min
In 2006, Benjamin Mee bought a zoo. Literally a zoo. It was broken down and in desperate need of a caring owner. Mee and his family were struggling too. Things hadn’t been going well for them either.
Are You Ready To Be Challenged?
Jul 5 • 2 min
It’s very easy to get comfortable. To build up your life exactly how you want it to be. Minimize inconveniences and hand off the stuff you don’t like to do. To find what you enjoy, where you enjoy it, and never leave. A velvet rut,
Freedom Isn’t Free
Jul 4 • 3 min
The fact that America exists is the ultimate argument that Stoicism is not apathy and that philosophy is not mere theory. Because without Stoicism, it’s possible there would have been no revolution, no Constitution, no Bill of Rights and no…
Do Less
Jul 3 • 3 min
Unlike so many of the other philosophical schools, the Stoics were doers. The Epicureans might …
Who The True Stoics Were
Jul 2 • 3 min
If you were to run down the list of the great Stoics of history, who would come to mind?Seneca. Marcus Aurelius. Epictetus. Maybe if you really knew your stuff, you’d
Real Power Can’t Be Taken Away
Jul 1 • 3 min
Twice, Seneca was exiled. Twice, he basically lost everything. Money. Access. Influence. It all went away, like *that.*
You Have To Take Care of Yourself
Jun 28 • 3 min
King George IV was a notorious glutton. His breakfast supposedly consisted of two pigeons, three steaks, a near full bottle of wine, and a glass of brandy. In time, he grew so fat he could no longer sleep laying down, or the weight of his own chest …
Justice Doesn’t Have To Be Angry
Jun 27 • 4 min
When we hear about an athlete who was doubted and kicked around, or an entrepreneur who ends up buying the previously dominant company that once spurned them, we assume anger must have been the fuel that powered their comeback. When we hear about so…
What Do You Live By?
Jun 26 • 2 min
William Alexander Percy, the uncle of the great writer Walker Percy, and one of the last Southern Stoics, was a famous host. His mansion in Greenville, Mississippi welcomed many guests, including Robert Wright, L…
Never Attribute To Malice…
Jun 25 • 3 min
People do a lot of things that feel mean. That frustrate us. That cause problems for us. That make the world a worse place. They vote for bad politicians. They say offensive things. They make messes. They screw stuff up.Naturally, our first i…
Break Out and Break Free
Jun 24 • 3 min
We live in the freest time in the freest places in the history of the world. Yet many of us feel far from free. We are slaves to vices and devices, to our schedules and our poor self-talk. We’re reactive. We look at the world through the lens of oth…
It’s About The Paring Down
Jun 21 • 2 min
Really what the Stoics were trying to do is pare down what they had to worry about. That’s why Epictetus sa…
Practice These Virtues
Jun 20 • 2 min
Virtue is one of those words that contains multitudes. If you think about it, being virtuous is not doing one thing all the time, or even lots of things all at once. It’s doing all the right things—the important things—in those mom…
You Must Think It
Jun 19 • 3 min
In Richard III and in Othello, Shakespeare has two different characters utter the same line. Both Iago and a nameless orphan say, “I cannot think it.”In bo…
Do You Want To Be Less Angry?
Jun 18 • 2 min
The best way to make sure you are always offended and upset is to be on the lookout for things to be offended by and upset about. The sharper your ears and eyes, the larger your dragnet for information, the more likely you are to find something that…
Tell The Truth, Even If They Hate You For It
Jun 17 • 4 min
There is a certain archetype that is as old as literature and history themselves. One of the first times we see it in the West is with Cassandra in the Greek tragedies. She has the power to see i…
It’s OK To Struggle
Jun 14 • 3 min
Nietzsche’s classic line was “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” It’s a nice sentiment, but is it true? Don’t people who were born with advantages do better in life? Isn’t it better not to suffer setbacks? Why would someone want
It Doesn’t Matter What You Do, It Matters How You Do It
Jun 13 • 2 min
The occupations of the three most well-known Stoics could not be more different. Seneca was a playwright, a wealthy landowner, a…
Never Abandon Your Ideals
Jun 12 • 3 min
Anne Frank would have celebrated her 90th birthday today. Although her life was cut tragically short, so much of her preternatural wisdom survives to us thanks to her famous, existentially essential diary. In it, we…
Why It’s Important To Be Healthy
Jun 11 • 2 min
It wouldn’t seem like eating well would be an important part of the philosopher’s job, but indeed it is. Antoninus Pius, the adopted stepfather
How To Think About Obstacles
Jun 10 • 2 min
We can think of hardship many ways: As failure. As unfairness. As the end of the conversation. Clearly, this was not meant to be, we can say. They don’t want me to succeed, so what’s the point of trying?Or, we can choose—we …
When You Need Help…
Jun 7 • 3 min
Maybe you’re having a difficult time in your relationship. Or work has worn you down. Maybe things have gone exceedingly well in your business and now you’re dealing with opportunities you never thought possible. Or you’re trying to figure out what …
What The Simple Life Is
Jun 6 • 2 min
Seneca wasn’t fond of philosophers you could recognize. Not by their fame, but by their uniform. In his time, just as it is…
The Earth Is Big And Has Room For Everyone
Jun 5 • 3 min
There is a line in the Odyssey (most recently translated by Seneca’s wonderful biographer, Emily Wilson). Odysseus, still early on in his journey home,…
Good Stuff Comes Out Of Bad Circumstances
Jun 4 • 3 min
If Marcus Aurelius had his choice, he probably never would have been emperor. If he could have chosen how his reign would go, he probably wouldn’t have spent it at war, far from home, either. But that was how life went. Those were the cards he was d…
An Easy Source of Encouragement
Jun 3 • 2 min
Stop Wasting Time on Trivialities
May 31 • 2 min
In his twenty-third letter to Lucil…
The Best Technology Ever Invented
May 30 • 4 min
There have been all sorts of wonderful technological innovations since Marcus Aurelius’s time, particularly in the domain of writing. We got the printing press. We got typewriters. We got ballpoint pens and erasers and whiteout. We got computers and…
It’s OK To Cry
May 29 • 2 min
We know that Marcus Aurelius cried when he was told that his favorite tutor passed away. We know that he cried that da…
What Do You Have To Draw On?
May 28 • 3 min
For most of us, things are pretty good right now. The economy is booming. Our jobs or our personal lives are going well. Most of the doomsday predictions from critics and watchdogs have turned out to be overwrought or even wrong…so far. The world …
Things Don’t Make The Man
May 27 • 2 min
It’s very easy to associate our possessions and our positions with our identity. There’s even an expression to that effect: The clothes make the man. When we have a powerful job, we feel powerful. When the market is hot, we feel like we hav…
It’s Not As Unfortunate As It Seems
May 24 • 2 min
Things we didn’t want to happen happen to all of us. A business deal falls through. A grade comes back that we didn’t expect. A person we care about leaves us. Our instinct is to call these events unfortunate.Which makes sense. It’s …
The Road To Ladies and Gentlemen Again
May 23 • 2 min
Two years ago, the world lost a great scholar and Stoic philosopher, Peter Lawler. Peter, a longtime writer for National Review and politi…
You’ll Be Happier If You’re Realistic
May 22 • 3 min
We tell ourselves that if we just get paid more or get promoted, we’ll stop being so miserable at work. Or we dream for months in advance about some vacation to paradise, only to find, once we arrive, that the hotel was not quite as glamorous as the…
Eat And Be Merry
May 21 • 2 min
A few years ago a study by Brad Bushman at Ohio State University found a link between low blood sugar and argu…
Make It Happen. Whatever It Takes.
May 20 • 2 min
On this day in 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Her solo exploits are well known. Less so is that Earhart had already made the same flight less than five years prior. Unable to make a living as a female pi…
Don’t Let Yourself Be Rushed
May 17 • 2 min
Robert Caro is getting old and people are getting worried. He’s now 83 and each day that passes makes it increasingly unlikely that he’ll ever finish his epic (and must-read) series on Lyndon Johnson. He’s only …
Find The Space
May 16 • 2 min
Think about the last time that someone made you upset. What did they say? What did they do? Now think back: How did you react? What did you say? What did you feel?Now think about the situation another way: If, when that provocation came, you …
How To Overcome Selfishness
May 15 • 3 min
Bertrand Russell was no fan of the Stoics. He thought they were cold, hated riches and passion. He thought Seneca and Marcus were hypocrites. But then again he himself was a rather big hypocrite—having had his share of affairs and embarrassing scand…
The Only Measure of Success
May 14 • 3 min
There’s plenty written about people pushing through failure, pulling themselves out of the depths of despair, rising above against all odds. There are countless inspiring stories of the struggling artist, living in debt and obscurity for years—a lif…
Look For Teachable Moments
May 13 • 3 min
On the eve of the 2008 election, the journalist Joe Klein asked Barack Obama how he’d made his decision to respond to the brewing scandal about Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wri…
If It’s Right, It’s Right For You
May 10 • 2 min
Sometimes we get asked or tasked with doing stuff in life we’d rather not have to do. Maybe that’s working a less than glamorous job when we’re young. Maybe that’s filling a role in your family that diverges from traditional gender roles. Maybe that…
You Decide The End of The Story
May 9 • 2 min
When James Stockdale was shot down in Vietnam, he was taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese. He spent seven years being tortured and subjected to unimaginable loneliness and terror. He had little choice over the fact that he was shot down, or that …
The First and Most Important Victory
May 8 • 3 min
It’s easy to look at people who are calm and self-disciplined and assume that their disposition comes naturally to them, or that it is somehow divinely inspired. These people, they simply don’t have to struggle with the temptations or the frustratio…
Who To Be Friends With?
May 7 • 2 min
Of the Stoics, Seneca seems like the one who had the most fun. He’s the one who it’s easiest to picture spending time with friends or mingling …
Don’t Sell Out
May 6 • 2 min
In his Discourses, Epictetus asks a probing question: “Your respect, trustworthiness and…
Be Sure To Love Them While You Still Can
May 3 • 4 min
In one of the darkest passages in all of Stoic thought, Epictetus discusses the prospect of putti…
Do Your Duty, Every Day, Everywhere
May 2 • 2 min
The French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy was recently interviewed by the New York Times about his grueling travel schedule, wh…
You’ll Never Get To Perfect
May 1 • 2 min
Rosanne Cash tells a story in her memoir, Composed about a performance she did with George Harrison. Dress rehearsal had gone wonderfully but the performance didn’t go quite as well. Seeing she was disapp…
You Can Admit You Were Wrong
Apr 30 • 2 min
A Stoic is determined, but not obstinate. A Stoic controls what they can, recognizes they cannot change that which is out of their control, but that they can change their mind. Not because it’s convenient, but because they are open to learn…
Make Beautiful Choices
Apr 29 • 2 min
Epictetus says that “if your choices are beautiful, so too will you be.” It’s simple and it’s true. You are w…
Do This For Your Future Self
Apr 26 • 3 min
The musician, producer, circus performer, entrepreneur, TED speaker, and author, Derek Sivers, recently wrote an article that began, “You know those people…
Always Think Of Their Intentions
Apr 25 • 3 min
We live in a culture where people sit on the sidelines and pass a lot of strong judgements. We look at people we don’t know and decide whether they’re good or bad people. We look at complicated situations and difficult projects and cleanly label the…
Difficulty Is Forging Us Into Who We Need To Be
Apr 24 • 3 min
Look, nobody wants to go through hard times. We’d prefer that things go according to plan, that what could go wrong doesn’t, so that we might enjoy our lives without being challenged or tested beyond our limits. Unfortunately, that’s unl…
We All Share This Thing Together
Apr 23 • 3 min
Yesterday was the 49th year we celebrated Earth Day…in the 4.5 billionth year of the Earth’s existence. In 1970, at the height of counterculture in the United States, the protest movement, and rising dissatisfaction with the environmental abuses o…
When You’re Having A Bad Day
Apr 22 • 2 min
Theodore Roosevelt famously said that comparison is the thief of joy. Using what other people have or what they’ve done to chart your progress, holding your life or your work up to some outside vague standard of greatness, paying attention to you…
The Race To Run Is Against Yourself
Apr 19 • 3 min
It can be deceiving to hear the Stoics talk about an indifference to external recognition or rewards.
Look For The Good
Apr 18 • 2 min
Laura Ingalls Wilder had a hard scrabble existence. From the Kansas prairies to the backwoods of Florida, she and her family eked out a life from some of the most unforgiving environments on the planet. That’s what being a pioneer was really like. I…
Don’t Worry About Being Respected
Apr 17 • 2 min
In a conversation on “You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes” about Martin Luther King Jr., the screenwriter and director Adam McKay talked about the distinction between two words (and concepts) that we commonly conflate: Have you noticed th…
No Room For “Them”
Apr 16 • 3 min
“They” hold up very poorly in M…
How To Bounce Back
Apr 15 • 3 min
When you begin to type “Marcus Lattimore” into Google, the first suggestion is “injury”. On October 27th, 2012, on live television, running back at University of South Carolina Marcus Lattimore suffered a horrific on field knee injury that he would …
Here’s A Reason To Be Good
Apr 12 • 3 min
The funny thing about egotistical people is that—despite any power or wealth they might have—they are really easy to manipulate. All you have to do is tell them what they want to hear; make everything seem like it was their idea; play to their vanit…
Freedom To or Freedom From?
Apr 11 • 3 min
At the core of legal theory is this idea that there are essentially two forms of liberty—positive and negative. Positive liberty is the freedom to do something, such as the freedom of speech or the freedom of worship. Negative liberty is fr…
All That Matters Is How We Respond
Apr 9 • 2 min
It was the great Athenian leader, Pericles, who said that there was nothing wrong with poverty. It could be …
Do You Want To Be Less Angry?
Apr 8 • 2 min
Few people have studied the life and writings of Seneca as deeply as James Romm has. Romm is the author of a great biography of Seneca, Dying Every Day, a translation of Seneca’s various thoughts on deat…
What Goes Up, Must Come Down
Apr 5 • 2 min
Each of has been blessed by Fortune. We’re alive right now, instead of 50 or 500 years ago. We were born free, and not into slavery. We’re reading this email on a computer in our office or on our cellphones, because we’re not laying in a hospital in…
Do Better Where You Can
Apr 4 • 2 min
When we look at the lives of a great ma…
You Are Here On The Mountaintop
Apr 3 • 3 min
The point of memento mori is not to make you sad. It’s not to make you anxious about how few days you m…
It’s Just The Glasses
Apr 2 • 3 min
In his wonderful new book How To Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, cognitive-behavioral psychotherapist, hi…
All Things Can Be Used for a Purpose
Apr 1 • 3 min
One of the benefits of being an artist is that everything that happens to you—no matter how traumatic or frustrating—has at least one hidden benefit: It can be used in your art. A painful parting can become a powerful breakup anthem. Melancholy mixe…
Friendship Makes Life Worth Living
Mar 29 • 4 min
By now you may have read the viral story about the unexpected friendship between Charles Barkley and the late Lin Wang, a cat litter scientist from Iowa. It’s a pretty …
Do Not Be Afraid
Mar 28 • 2 min
Life is pretty great, usually. Until you start thinking about what’s on the other side. That’s when things get less certain; when the fear of death kicks in. Nobody wants to die, after all. That much is understandable. But life is what it is, and wi…
Know It Inside And Out
Mar 27 • 2 min
Admiral Hyman Rickover, the father of the nuclear navy in the United States and an unsung hero in the history of the world, was once asked by a Congressman if he was prepared for the upcoming hearing in which Hyman needed to speak about a number of …
Take The Time To Be Grateful
Mar 26 • 3 min
AJ Jacobs is known for his unique style of immersion journalism. He’s lived, literally, according to the Bible. He’s went out and met every obscure relative he could find in his family tree. In his new book,
We Are All Tested In Different Ways
Mar 25 • 2 min
It was said that Socrates saw his difficult marriage as a sort of challenge that life threw at him—that the fact that his wife’s personality and interests were often at odds with his own was something he could be made better by for being patient wit…
It Smells Like…Life
Mar 22 • 2 min
The German poet Friedrich Schiller supposedly liked to write with a drawer filled with rotting apples tucked into his desk. The smell was overpowering, but he couldn’t write without it. Apparently, it got the words flowing.How could that poss…
Are You Tired Trying To Fill That Void?
Mar 21 • 2 min
All of us are trying to find something. Trying to find meaning, love, contentment. Because we feel like something is missing. That’s why we keep ourselves so busy, why we kill ourselves with work, why we can’t be still.This drive is what allo…
Do Your Best
Mar 20 • 2 min
Gretchen Rubin is one of the most thought-provoking and influential experts on habits and happiness. She has written several New York Times best sellers, which have sold millions of copies, including
Beware the Voice in Your Head
Mar 19 • 2 min
Seneca tells the story of the philosopher Crates, who was walking in Athens when he saw a young man talking to no one around. “What are you doing?” Crates asked. “I am …
What It Really Means To Be A Slave
Mar 18 • 3 min
Epictetus was born a slave. Quite literally, hi…
The Most Important Thing: Realizing That We Are All One
Mar 15 • 3 min
Let’s take a second to meditate on this observation from John Cage, the experimental musician and student of Zen philosophy:“That one sees that the human race is one person (all of its members parts of the same body, brothers—not in competiti…
Zoom Out…And Laugh
Mar 14 • 2 min
The way to make all your problems, even the really vexing and painful ones, seem less severe? It comes from Seneca. …
Why You Should Read Biographies
Mar 13 • 2 min
“I don’t have time to read a book that long,” you might say when someone recommends one of those epic volumes from the Ron Chernows and
What Does It Feel Like To Lose All Your Money?
Mar 12 • 3 min
Last year, the writer Chuck Palahniuk received the kind of news that all of us dread. Someone he trusted—the book agent who had represented him for years—had been slowly but steadily robbing him blind. All the millions he’d earned from the royalties…
Always, Ever The Same
Mar 11 • 3 min
In his wonderful book, The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, the Pulitzer Prize winning scholar Stephen Greenblatt spends a lot of time analyzing a pivotal moment early in the life of Saint Augustine, when he…
Take What’s Good, Ignore The Rest
Mar 8 • 4 min
One of Seneca’s most powerful strategies comes from his time as a Senator. Speaking again of a th…
Now Is Now
Mar 7 • 2 min
There is a beautiful passage on the last page of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s, The Little House in the Big Woods. She writes of an evening in the cabin with her family, her father playing the fiddle, her mom …
Find A Good Outlet For Your Passions
Mar 6 • 4 min
Although today we consider “passion” to be a good thing—as in find your passion—to the Stoics, the passions were something to be wary of. Desire, rivalry, excitement, infat…
Is Ego A Virtue?
Mar 5 • 3 min
In 2017, Good Morning Britain anchor Susanna Reid presented her co-anchor (actually she calls …
It’s Good That Things Have Been Hard
Mar 4 • 3 min
Maybe you’ve had a hard time of it recently. That business project is three months over projections. Your book isn’t really selling. The comments in your performance review were brutal. Life can be like that. It kicks us around. The stuf…
It’s Time: The Daily Stoic 10-Day Spring Forward Challenge
Mar 1 • 4 min
Spring is here! While most of us unthinkingly set our clocks forward (or have devices that do it for us), how many of us take any steps to spring our lives forward? March is when we start to think of spring cleaning, but how many of us get our whole…
Read Like A Spy
Feb 28 • 2 min
As we’ve written about before, one of the most surprising parts of
How To Get Better (and Live a Great Life)
Feb 27 • 2 min
Eleanor Roosevelt had a great rule. We must do the thing we cannot do, she said. And if you look at her life, she more or less followed this rule. She conquered her shyness and became a leading public figure. She overcame sexism and preconc…
The Three Hardest Things To Do In Life
Feb 26 • 3 min
According to the great Jesuit Monk, Anthony De Mello, there are three intellectual feats that we struggle with on a regular basis, that are harder than just about any physical activity on the planet. Just three….
What Not To Do With Your Freedom
Feb 25 • 4 min
Last fall, there was a New York Times profile on what’s called the FIRE movement. FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. The…
How A Stoic Thinks About Sex
Feb 22 • 3 min
If you’re born into certain religious faiths, you tend to be raised with strong views on sex that come from on high. You’re not supposed to have sex before marriage or do this or that because God wouldn’t like it. (How that entitles you to regulate …
Do Less, Better
Feb 21 • 1 min
Here’s the simple recipe for improvement and for happiness. It comes from Marcus Aurelius and the fact that it came…
Speak The Truth, Let Them Howl
Feb 20 • 2 min
No matter what your profession is, there are things you can say that will cost you. Speaking up against somebody’s pet project can get an officer passed over for promotion. Voicing a certain political viewpoint can cost you fans or endorsements. Cha…
The One Thing To Be A Slave To
Feb 19 • 2 min
Slavery is one of the most common metaphors in Seneca’s…
This Is What Progress Looks Like
Feb 18 • 2 min
How do you know you’re making progress in this philosophy? It’s a question that every person has struggled with at some point in their practice, including Seneca.
This Is How To Go Out
Feb 15 • 2 min
Epicurus’s final letter begins with a rather remarkable sentence: “On this happy day, which is the last day of my life, I write the following words to you.” While the letter briefly touches on the painful symptoms of the disease that would soon k…
It Can Happen To You
Feb 14 • 3 min
A few weeks ago, we ran an email about Austin Murphy, the former Sports Illustrated writer whose thirty year career (which included interviewing presidents and champions) somehow ended in a gig delivering packages for Amazon.There is…
Escape This Indelible Stain
Feb 13 • 4 min
In Meditations, Marcus speaks passionately about escaping the “indelible stain” of power, of …
An Important Reminder To Do The Right Thing
Feb 12 • 3 min
What Will You Do Now?
Feb 11 • 3 min
In the winter of 1824, things were not looking good for Simon Bolivar. He was at one of the lowest points of his decade-plus long revolution of South America. Many of the countries he had freed from Spanish rule were in chaos or at risk of being re-…
YOU Are Not The Problem
Feb 8 • 2 min
Epictetus’s most powerful line is about how it’s not things that upset us, but what we think about things that …
How Do You Fill The Void?
Feb 7 • 3 min
Seneca wrote constantly about time. One of his most compelling observations was about how people are protective of their money, their property, their possessions, yet careless with the one thing they can’t get back. “It’s not that we have a short ti…
Avoid Owing (and Being Owned)
Feb 6 • 3 min
Seneca was a very rich man. He accumulated that fortune largely due to his service to Nero’s corrupt and broken regime, and the…
When You Should Give Up
Feb 5 • 3 min
No one would ever call Winston Churchill a quitter. His whole reputation is built on his instinct to fight. He was the lone objector when appeasement toward Hitler reigned as policy in the 1930s. He was the one strong enough to inspire the British p…
All This In A Nutshell
Feb 4 • 2 min
Near the end of the Eisenhower Administration, the speechwriter James C. Humes was asked to help the president write a short address. After submitting a draft, Humes was called to Eisenhower’s office to discuss. As soon as he stepped into the room, …
Out of Many, One
Feb 1 • 3 min
The motto of the United States—seen imprinted on its currency and its buildings—is e pluribus unum: “Out of many, one.”It happens that this is also more or less the aim of Stoicism too, to take the many parts of a person and turn the…
Success or Failure—Neither Reflect On You
Jan 31 • 3 min
Just a few weeks ago, the writer Austin Murphy wrote an insightful, revealing article for The Atlantic that personalized the changin…
When Something Breaks
Jan 30 • 2 min
If a close friend had their home broken into, you’d comfort them and tell them that it was only stuff that had been stolen. If your child broke their favorite toy, you’d tell them that these things happen and try to get them to play with so…
Closing Your Eyes Is Not An Excuse
Jan 29 • 3 min
In Richard III, Shakespeare has a scene where Brackenbury is handed orders from Richard by two men who clearly plan to murder the King’s brother. His response echos down through the ages as an example of w…
The One (or Two) Words To Live By
Jan 28 • 2 min
Confucius was once asked by a student if there was a single word to to live by, a word that would always provide guidance and truth. He thought about it for a minute and replied with the word chu, which translates roughly into “forbearance….
How To Make Better Decisions in Life
Jan 25 • 2 min
Believe it or not, there’s a pretty magical way to start making better decisions. It’s a secret that will also make you feel better, look better, and live better. You’ll live longer, think more clearly, and do less that you regret.
Don’t Limit Yourself
Jan 24 • 3 min
Epicurus’s dictum was that “One sage is no wiser than another.” Clearly,
If You Were Tested, Would You Pass?
Jan 23 • 2 min
Perhaps you remember the 90s hit by the band The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, “The Impression That I Get.” You know, the ‘neeeeevvvvvvveeeerrrrrr had to knock on wood’ song? If you haven’t listened to it in a while, you should, because it holds up surpr…
We Are What We Think About
Jan 22 • 3 min
Ok, so it’s worth saying bluntly to any of the nice people out there who might believe in it: The Law of Attraction is complete horseshit. If you need proof, here’s a funny example: In 2015, the author of
What Other People Get Away With Is Not An Excuse
Jan 21 • 5 min
Let us stipulate first that Serena Williams is an extremely talented tennis player and an honest and ethical person. Let us also stipulate that she has been unfairly treated by chair and line umpires, not just when she was an up-and-comer, but also,…
We Must Live By This Rule
Jan 18 • 2 min
Zigong once asked Confucius: “Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?” His reply: “Is not RECIPROCITY such a word?”Thus we have, by yet another source, another formulation of the Golden Rule. Matthew 7:12, …
When Are You Going To Be Free?
Jan 17 • 2 min
Most of us tell ourselves that we’re putting up with ill-treatment or keeping our mouths shut about our beliefs because we’re working on something big. We tell ourselves that we’re slogging away in this industry or that industry not because we’re bi…
How To Respond To Crazy People
Jan 16 • 2 min
One suspects Marcus Aurelius was referring to a particularly frustrating person, some opponent who just would not, or…
Don’t Be Distracted By Darkness
Jan 15 • 2 min
There’s no question that depressing things happen in this world. They always have and always will. People lie, cheat, steal. Envy, avarice, selfishness—it’s all out there. And it’s hard …
The Civil War Inside Each One Of Us
Jan 14 • 3 min
Martin Luther King Jr. was fond of using the American Civil War as a metaphor, not just to explain the divisive political landscape, but the divide within each person. Just as there was a North and South in America (Anti-slavery and Pro-Slavery), th…
This Is What Karma Looks Like
Jan 11 • 3 min
There is a simple proposition at the heart of classical Christianity: if you are a good person and do good works on Earth, when you die you will enter the Kingdom of Heaven and know the full bounty of God’s unending love. But if you are a bad person…
The Great Equalizer
Jan 10 • 2 min
The author Michael Malice has a running gag: whenever a celebrity dies he posts a meme that says RIP but is a photo of a similar looking but a very different (and very alive) celebrity. It’s partly a commentar…
If It’s Not Simple, It’s Bullshit
Jan 9 • 2 min
There’s not much in Stoicism that’s particularly groundbreaking: Focus on what you can control. Be a good person. Manage your emotions. A lot of the famous Stoic quotes are pretty basic too:
Find A Point!
Jan 8 • 3 min
Peter Barton’s beautiful memoir, Not Fade Away: A Short Life Well Lived, takes readers along a man’s search for meaning when he’s forced to confront mortality. Struggling for a reason to persist amid a term…
The Habit You Must Start This Year
Jan 7 • 3 min
Why does Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations speak to us so? The answer, ironically, is that because the author had zero intention of doing so—in fact, he probably wo…
The One Thing You Must Avoid
Jan 4 • 3 min
Imagine this. You’ve worked for years on this novel—one that is indisputably the best thing you’ve ever done. You manage to get a publisher to buy it. You start to get rave reviews. You sell out your first printing. Then suddenly, all the momentum e…
Do The Little Thing, It’s All The Matters
Jan 3 • 3 min
In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Tereza, as the Prague Spring happens and the Soviets begin a military occupation, takes the time to rescue a crow that was hurt on the side of the road. Yet when dissid…
It’s Not How Long You Live, It’s How You Live
Jan 2 • 3 min
In late December, Richard Overton passed away at the ripe old age of 112 and 230 days. When he was born, Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States, and the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery in America, was only a few decades old (for c…
Keep These Thoughts At Hand, Everyday
Jan 1 • 4 min
The Stoics were all about routine and concentration. Epictetus said that philosophy was something that should be kept at hand every day and night. Indeed, his book En…
What We Do In Life Does Not Echo In Eternity
Dec 31, 2018 • 3 min
In the movie Gladiator, Maximus, the protege of Marcus Aurelius, says famously, “What we do in life, echoes i…
Don’t Wait. Get Started. Now.
Dec 28, 2018 • 4 min
This is that weird time of year where we start to think about how we want the following year to go. We call them “resolutions” and they are the promises we make to ourselves about what we’re going to do in the next twelve months. The habits we’re go…
Everything Is Breaking Down
Dec 27, 2018 • 2 min
Nearly two thousand years before Rudolph Clausius and Lord Kelvin first expressed the second law of thermodynamics (although there is debate on whether or not the French physicist Sadi Carnot discovered it earlier),
Why You Need To Understand Power
Dec 26, 2018 • 4 min
The actor Josh Peck recently had Robert Greene on his podcast to discuss the book, The Laws of Human Nature. It’s a fascinating interview, but one of the most revealing parts is when Josh asks Robert about…
Today Is A Very Special Day
Dec 25, 2018 • 5 min
On December 25th, people all over the world celebrate Christmas, a holiday which marks the birth of Jesus Christ, one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived. This was a man who lived two thousand years ago, taught timeless lessons about kindnes…
You Make Your Own Good Fortune
Dec 24, 2018 • 2 min
We can all remember times when it felt like everything was going our way. We were getting the breaks we wanted and opportunities came easy. It was the opposite of Murphy’s Law: What could go right, did.Perhaps we remember a time when…
Life Comes At You Fast Pt II
Dec 21, 2018 • 4 min
Just two and a half years ago, General Michael Flynn stood on the stage at the Republican National Convention and led some 20,000 people (and a good many more at home) in an impromptu chant of “Lock Her Up! Lock Her Up!” about his enemy Hillary Clin…
How To Be The MVP
Dec 19, 2018 • 3 min
Yet again, Nick Foles has been called up to start at quarterback for the Eagles. After spending another heartbreaking season on the bench behind first round draft pick and star of the future, Carson Wentz—this time despite having won the Su…
14 Day Stoic Challenge: New Year, New You
Dec 18, 2018 • 4 min
We all know someone who constantly puts stuff off. Who loves to plan improvements for their health, their finances, their work, their friendships, their relationships. Plan after plan after plan. There is seemingly no end to them.We know thes…
Here Are Signs You’re Making Progress
Dec 17, 2018 • 2 min
Ok, you’ve been doing your reading and your journaling. You’re trying to be conscious of your thoughts and your actions. In short, you’re putting in the work. The question is, how do you know if it’s …
You Do You. Whether They Like it Or Not.
Dec 14, 2018 • 2 min
Think of all the people throughout history who were wrongly condemned and criticized by the mob. From the Civil Rights Activists to Galileo to ordinary people whose lifestyles were hypocritically condemned as perverted or a violation of God’s law. T…
You Don’t Get To Be Apolitical
Dec 13, 2018 • 2 min
There is a common complaint drifting through the culture these days: Why did you have to bring politics into things? Can’t she or he just sing/dance/dribble/write/paint? I was a fan until you said ___________. First off, how fra…
Don’t Let Your Virtues Become This Vice
Dec 12, 2018 • 2 min
So we’ve begun to get serious about our training, both physical and philosophical. Before, we never read, and now we do. Before, we were lazy and slothful, and now we’re regularly going to the gym. Before, we would eat everything we felt like eating…
Be Good To Each Other
Dec 11, 2018 • 3 min
“Man’s inhumanity to manMakes countless thousands mourn.”It is a verse from the poet Robert Burns. It was a favorite of Ulysses S. Grant as well as Winston Churchill, two men who witnessed the absolute worst of what people can do to ea…
We Aren’t Rational, We Become Rational
Dec 10, 2018 • 3 min
Most of us don’t think of ourselves as irrational. We don’t think we’re reactive creatures. We presume that we’re in control of our emotions, not the other way around. Other people are irrational of course, but what we feel is what reality …
This Is How They Treat You After You’re Gone
Dec 7, 2018 • 2 min
Da Vinci painted his brilliant fresco, The Last Supper, and how did they respond? They nagged at him for taking too long. Then, after he finished, they cut a giant hole in the bottom for a door. Marcus slaved away on his private Meditations…
What Would You Do?
Dec 6, 2018 • 3 min
News reports re-surfaced earlier this month that the teenaged son of Jeff Flake, the Republican Senator, had made a number of homophobic and racist comments on his Twitter ac…
The Powerful Are Not Free
Dec 5, 2018 • 3 min
It’s funny that we spend so much time being jealous of people whose lives we do not even begin to understand. People look at the famous and the powerful and wish they could have what they have. As if those bounties did not come at very high costs!
It’s All In How You See It
Dec 3, 2018 • 2 min
Seneca said that the growth of anything is a long process, but its undoing can be rapid, even instant. Jordan Harbinger built his career for 11 years. With over 4 million monthly downloads, he had one of …
These Are Life Choices You Control
Nov 30, 2018 • 3 min
If you haven’t heard of George Raveling, you should. This a guy that Michael Jordan addresses as “coach” even though Raveling never coached the Bulls or the Tar Heels. He’s also been retired from coaching for more than two decades.
It’s Always Been This Way, Always Will Be
Nov 29, 2018 • 3 min
We like to think that we’re so advanced. That things have changed so radically since the ancient days of tyrants and barbarism. But have they?
Power and Success Can Make You Better
Nov 28, 2018 • 4 min
Lord Acton’s line is so famous and so undeniably true that most people don’t even know that it’s a quote from a real person: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It’s been proven time and time again in history. When…
Making A Difference IS Up To You
Nov 27, 2018 • 6 min
Look, there’s no way around it: Part of Stoicism is accepting that a lot of what happens in the world is
What Is Sympatheia? (And Why It’s So Damn Important)
Nov 26, 2018 • 4 min
In Book Six of Meditations, Marcus gives himself (and us) a command to keep an important idea in mind. “Me…
Do Not Avoid This Thought
Nov 23, 2018 • 3 min
In his new book, The Laws of Human Nature, Robert Greene concludes his final chapter with this meditation on mortality:“Many of us spend our lives avoiding the thought of death. Instead th…
What Marcus Learned From Antoninus
Nov 22, 2018 • 3 min
Where did Marcus learn to be Marcus? Ernest Renan writes that Marcus was very much a product of his training and his tutors. But more than his teachers and even his own parents, “Marcus had a sin…
Don’t Get Upset By What You Disagree With
Nov 21, 2018 • 3 min
The response to the Daily Stoic emails can be a fascinating peek into human psychology. One email, because it makes a fairly objective point about Donald Trump’s temperament, produces a record number of unsubscribes. Another, because it mentions Win…
Write And Think Clearly
Nov 20, 2018 • 3 min
In his short new edition of How To Be Free, A.A Long observes the relative ease he had translating Epictetus from ancient Greek into English. This…
The Best Way To Fight Evil
Nov 19, 2018 • 2 min
Tolstoy believed his most essential work was not his novels but his daily read, A Calendar of Wisdom. Like in The Daily Stoic, each day in that book is a meditat…
The Dance We Each Will Dance
Nov 16, 2018 • 4 min
It would be hard to find a deeper, darker yet more philosophically interesting short film than the “Silly Symphony” that Walt Disney produced in 1929. And while many Disney franchises were built around classic stories and fables, one might have trou…
The Perils of ‘Comfort Inflation’
Nov 15, 2018 • 2 min
It’s so easy to take progress and luxury for granted. Warren Buffet has talked about how somebody today—with the comforts of heating and air conditioning—has what a 15th century king could have only dreamed of: being cool in the summer and warm in…
The Most Important Ritual You Can Practice This Year
Nov 14, 2018 • 4 min
Be A User, Not A Loser
Nov 13, 2018 • 2 min
Dr. D.T. Suzuki, a 20th century Japanese author who was largely responsible for popularizing Buddhism, Zen, and Shin in the West, was once approached at the end of a dinner party. “How is it, Dr. Suzuki,” the woman asked, “we spend the entire evenin…
You Become Like Your Friends
Nov 12, 2018 • 1 min
“Nature gave us friendship,” Cicero wrote, “as an aid to virtue, not as a companion to vice.”What he meant was that friends are supposed to make you better, not make you worse. Friends are supposed to reinforce your good habits, not encou…
Get Yourself Under Control
Nov 9, 2018 • 2 min
It was Heraclitus—a favorite of Marcus Aurelius—who said that “to be self-controlled is the greatest of e…
We Have So Much In Common
Nov 8, 2018 • 3 min
In a very short period around 2003, the musician Rosanne Cash lost her sister, her step mother, her father , and her mother. It was a series of blows that rocked her, even as stoic and strong as she was. She would write later in
Your Hunger For Money Is Starving You
Nov 7, 2018 • 2 min
William MacAskill is a fascinating guy. He is the youngest Associate Professor in Philosophy at the University of Oxford. He’s one of the founders of the Effective Altruism movement. He’s written a gr…
Each Of Us Has A Duty
Nov 6, 2018 • 3 min
In one sense, it’s hard to argue with the statistics that any individual’s vote makes a difference. One person out of so many? When more than 50% of the population doesn’t even bother? In a country of gerrymandering and voter suppression? In the oth…
Let Us Argue With Reality No More
Nov 5, 2018 • 3 min
So much of what we do as a society could be described as arguing with reality. Turn on cable news and you’ll find talking heads screaming at their upset viewers about how whatever has happened as part of the story of the day is “Just not no…
Don’t Borrow Suffering
Nov 2, 2018 • 3 min
Here’s a line from Seneca: “We suffer more in imagination than in reality.” Meaning, we spend so much time worried about how bad things are going to be,…
Let It Go, You’re Plenty Guilty Yourself
Nov 1, 2018 • 2 min
Like you’ve never cut in line, on purpose or on accident. Like you’ve never done something selfish or spoken with an attitude. Like you’ve never been jealous or petty or mean. Of course you have. You’ve done all t…
Don’t Be A Snowflake
Oct 31, 2018 • 3 min
A few years ago, conservative commentators in America began using a term for young college students—mostly liberal—who insisted on #noplatforming speakers they disagreed with: Snowflakes. It was said with both a sneer and well-meaning wisdom becau…
Is Anxiety Playing Tricks On You?
Oct 30, 2018 • 2 min
You’ll likely know Charlamagne Tha God as the host of the nationally revered radio show The Breakfast Club where provocative celebrity interviews help drive the dail…
The Present Is Pleasurable Enough
Oct 29, 2018 • 3 min
On one of his more arduous hunts, after days of patiently tracking (and weeks of planning before that), crawling through the dirt and enduring difficult conditions, Theodore Roosevelt finally got the bull caribou he had been chasing. It was a big an…
We Are So Soon Forgotten
Oct 26, 2018 • 3 min
A few miles outside Rome, along the still-smooth stone-paved Appian Way, is a tall brick tomb that is rumored to belong to Senec…
Time Doesn’t Make Everything Better…It Just Makes Them What They Are
Oct 25, 2018 • 2 min
When we get dumped or we fail or we lose someone, we often hear that “Time heals all wounds” or some such remark, all of it in consolation. Obviously this is meant well, but it’s also frustrating—if only because it’s trite…and way too simple.&nbs…
Be Severe Only With Yourself
Oct 24, 2018 • 2 min
One of the things that separates us from other people—indeed that has been responsible for our success—is our ability to be strict and self-disciplined. Where other people are fine making excuses or taking shortcuts, we are not. Where other people…
We All Have The Same Nature
Oct 23, 2018 • 3 min
Robert Greene’s five international bestsellers earned him descriptions like genius and master of human behavior. His newest book was just released. The Laws of Human Nature is …
We Take The Bitter To Get To The Sweets
Oct 22, 2018 • 2 min
“The hunter worthy of the name always willingly takes the bitter if by so doing he can get the sweet, and gladly balances failure and success, spurning the poorer souls who know neither.”Theodore Roosevelt was …
How To Be A Winner and a Loser
Oct 19, 2018 • 3 min
Michael Lombardi is a former NFL coach, GM and front office strategist who is largely responsible for introducing Stoic philosophy to professional sports. In 2014, he read The Obstacle is the Way and spread it ar…
Accepting The Little Facts of Life
Oct 18, 2018 • 3 min
In the late 1800s, Theodore Roosevelt was on a hunting trip in Big Hole Basin in Montana. The trip did not get off to a good start. Upon getting off the train, and searching for a wagon to transport them, Roosevelt and his party immediately ran into…
Don’t Make This Mistake
Oct 17, 2018 • 3 min
There is a repeated pattern of failure in Marcus Aurelius’s life, and no matter how much we might admire him, it’s ha…
Are You A Coward? Or Are You Brave?
Oct 16, 2018 • 4 min
Varlam Shalamov was a brilliant writer who was sentenced in 1937 to years of hard labor in a Soviet gulag. If that were not painful enough, though he was eventually freed, his writings were more or less lost to history until today—his book,
Why Ego Is Your Enemy
Oct 15, 2018 • 2 min
One of the early members of Alcoholics Anonymous defined ego as “a conscious separation from.” From what? From everything and everyone, including our own nature. When we are in the sway of ego, we are arrogant, selfish, short…
Don’t Be All About Business
Oct 12, 2018 • 2 min
Is there anything sadder than a person whose work is their life? They neglect their family, they put in crazy hours, they have no interests, no hobbies outside what they do at the office. It’s bad enough to be stuck next to them at a party, but imag…
Why Do You Care What They Think?
Oct 11, 2018 • 2 min
There’s a moment that almost everyone remembers from their childhood. They have just received something they really liked—a new shirt, a new toy, a haircut they thought was cool—and showed up for school with it…only to be mercilessly teased and …
What You Think You’re Lacking Is The Problem
Oct 10, 2018 • 3 min
George Ball, the diplomat and advisor to President Kennedy (one of who David Halberstam would call ‘the best and the brightest’), once observed about Lyndon Johnson that LBJ was hardly disadvantaged by his lack of…
Love Always
Oct 9, 2018 • 4 min
1981 was a tough year for tennis great Billie Jean King. That year, she sat down to write her memoir having endured serious betrayal on multiple fronts. One was emotional and financial: a woman she’d had an affair with attempted to extort her, creat…
Things Worse Than Dying
Oct 8, 2018 • 2 min
Death and dying are the worst parts of life, right? After all, they do end the whole thing. So while it does make sense, generally, to try to avoid dying,
If Today Was Your Last Day
Oct 5, 2018 • 2 min
We put a lot of thought into making distinctions about what’s urgent and what’s not. We put a lot of effort into planning. We have our conservative calculations for retirement and our ambitious ones. We have a bucket list that includes the things we wa…
We Pay The Iron Price
Oct 4, 2018 • 3 min
In Game of Thrones, the people of the Iron Islands believe they have been entitled by God to steal and seize whatever they like. Women, land, possessions, even the rightful kingdom of one’s own brother—all of this is capriciously taken by the ironborn…
Nothing Exempts You From Hard Work
Oct 3, 2018 • 2 min
It’s interesting, if you think about Greek and Roman mythology, that the Gods were so active and busy. Athena and Circe and Hermes all worked to help Odysseus. Apollo guided Achilles. Zeus and Jupiter were always getting involved in this squabble or th…
Nothing Can Touch The Soul
Oct 2, 2018 • 3 min
The anti-war novel Johnny Got His Gun and the song it inspired, One by Metallica, tell the story of Joe Bonham, a soldier who has been grievously injured on the battlefield in World War I. Upon waking in the hospital, the soldier finds that he cannot w…
It’s Time To Get Up. It’s Time To Get Up
Oct 1, 2018 • 1 min
One of the best passages in all of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations is the opener to Book V. In it, Marcus has a dialog with himself as he struggles to get out of bed in the morning. It’s just marvelously relatable. Here we have an extraordinary man, some…
Another Reason To Journal
Sep 28, 2018 • 3 min
In Walter Isaacson’s wonderful new biography of Leonardo Da Vinci, he spends a lot of time dissecting and exploring the ideas in Da Vinci’s notebooks. From his military sketches to his lesser known fables to self-portraits and scientific breakthroughs,…
Don’t Make This Mistake (Or Stop Before It’s Too Late)
Sep 27, 2018 • 4 min
Why are good people attracted to serving bad people or bad causes? Aristotle taught Alexander the Great. Seneca advised Nero. Da Vinci attached himself to Cesare Borgia. Mattis accepted a cabinet position from Trump. There are, of course, ma…
Love Not Hate
Sep 26, 2018 • 2 min
It’s easy to stir up resentment, harder to create common ground. It’s easy to point out what’s wrong, it’s much more difficult to come up with a solution. Our current political and social dialogue has taken the easy road, no question, which is why we’r…
Make Sure You’re Coming Home
Sep 21, 2018 • 2 min
All of us have day jobs. Even professional philosophers are still professors or authors, which means they have other responsibilities than just thinking and reading. That means that like the rest of us, they’ve got meetings to take and phone calls to m…
Different Folks Need Different Strokes
Sep 20, 2018 • 5 min
Confucius was once asked for advice by a student, and in replying essentially urged him to wait and be patient. Later he was asked for advice by another student, and advised that student to not be patient and to solve the problem immediately. An obser…
What To Do When You’re Not Naturally Perfect
Sep 19, 2018 • 3 min
It was on this day in the year 86 AD, that Antoninus Pius, the man who would become best known as the stepfather of Marcus Aurelius, was born. Most people, even followers of Stoicism, don’t know much about Antoninus. This is sad because he was a truly …
Approach Your Troubles Like Doctor
Sep 18, 2018 • 3 min
It’s famously said that you should learn from the mistakes of others because you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself. In that way, the books we read and the information we digest gives us an advantage to those who choose to learn by painfu…
This Will Help You Get Rid Of Crazy Thoughts
Sep 17, 2018 • 2 min
In Aaron Thier’s novel The World Is A Narrow Bridge (the title is a proverb we have written about before), one of the main characters is a runner. His wife teases him for his dedication to this hobby, which he claims settles his mind and makes him feel…
Virtue Is Contagious (and Has Obligations)
Sep 14, 2018 • 2 min
The line from Confucius was that “Virtue is never solitary; it always has neighbors.” What he meant by that was that good behavior and good thinking is contagious. In a way, virtue is like the homeowner who moves into a rundown neighborhood and through…
It Comes For All, Young And Old
Sep 13, 2018 • 3 min
The New York Times Obituary section this past weekend featured a somberly diverse list of losses: William Jordan, the impressionist, was dead at 91. Erich Lessing, a photographer died at 95. Amanda Kyle Williams, the crime writer, at 61. Randy Weston, …
What Should Good People Do?
Sep 12, 2018 • 3 min
Confucius, like Seneca, was an interesting hybrid of philosopher and politician. For instance, in addition to his teachings and writings, he pushed for “a revival of a unified royal state, whose rulers would succeed to power on the basis of their moral…
The Ideal Weapon For Spiritual Combat
Sep 11, 2018 • 3 min
Michel Foucault has a fascinating essay on journaling entitled “Self-Writing.” In it, he describes journaling as a “weapon in spiritual combat,” which is a brilliant phrase. That might seem to be overstating it, after all, is it really such a big deal …
You Are Worth Fighting For
Sep 10, 2018 • 3 min
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Given that a number of prominent Stoics committed suicide, and that suicide was described by Epictetus as the “open door” it might seem like a strange theme to write about here today. But the truth is the Stoi…
Study The Lives of The Greats
Sep 7, 2018 • 2 min
It would be this Sunday that in the year 1813, General William Henry Harrison sent three volumes of an ancient book to his 15 year old son, John. The book was Plutarch’s Lives, long a favorite of successful men and women throughout history. Indeed, the…
The Only Kind Of Comparison Worth Doing
Sep 6, 2018 • 2 min
It is said that comparison is the thief of joy and is, therefore, mostly to be avoided. This is true. You’re on your own journey with your own unique circumstances. Using what other people have or what they’ve done as a guiding light to chart your prog…
How Are You Still Not Doing This?
Sep 5, 2018 • 3 min
Saint Athanasius of Alexandria wrote in Vita Antonii that the reason he did his journaling—his confessing, as the genre was called by the Christians—was that it was a safeguard against sinning. By observing and then writing about his own behavior, he…
This Message Is Waiting For You
Sep 4, 2018 • 2 min
On April 24th 1924, the pioneer writer Laura Ingalls Wilder got a note that he mother, aged 84, had died. It was a sad day, particularly since it had been so many years since she had been able to see or spend time with the woman who had raised and love…
In This Way You Are Unstoppable
Sep 3, 2018 • 2 min
Acceptance? Resignation? That’s not me, we say, when we hear the Stoics preach those concepts. I never give up. I’m a fighter. Ok. If you say so. But there’s a difference between being a fighter and a doer. Remember, one of the outcomes of “fig…
Your Heart Shouldn’t Be Getting Harder As You Go
Aug 31, 2018 • 3 min
The old joke—which dates back to the 1870s—is that if you’re not a liberal when you’re young you have no heart, but if you’re still a liberal when you’re older, you have no brain. Now we can put any partisan beliefs aside and see how this is at least…
This Is The Only Thing That Matters in Life
Aug 30, 2018 • 2 min
In 1940, while he was struggling as an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Walker Percy wrote to his uncle and adopted father, William Alexander Percy, to give him the bad news about his grades. William Alexander, who …
Why You Do This Work
Aug 29, 2018 • 2 min
There is an element of this philosophy that is a lot of work. You do all this reading. You do your morning and evening journaling. Maybe you attend meetup groups or even have pursued an advanced degree. Maybe you’ve joined Daily Stoic Life and particip…
There Is Always Something To Be Grateful For
Aug 28, 2018 • 3 min
One of the most stunning things about Anne Frank’s diary is how indefatigably happy it is. One might expect that her journal, which she kept from 1942 to 1944, as her family hid from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic, would be sullen and scared. Here she…
Why You’re The Luckiest Person In The World
Aug 27, 2018 • 2 min
“It’s unfortunate that this happened,” Marcus says in one of his imaginary dialogs. Then he corrects himself: “No. It’s fortunate that this has happened and I’ve remained unharmed by it—not shattered by the present or frightened of the future. It coul…
How To Make The World A Better Place
Aug 24, 2018 • 2 min
The line from George Bernard Shaw was that “all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” He isn’t wrong. The reasonable man bends himself to the world, because he insists to himself that the world is this way for a reason. The unreasonable man does n…
Here’s Why Worry Is Pointless
Aug 22, 2018 • 2 min
Humble people worry less than the arrogant. Why is that? Because they aren’t so conceited as to think they have any idea (or control over) what may or may not happen. The poet Rilke put it well: “Life is not even close to being as logically consistent …
Everything Hangs By A Thread
Aug 22, 2018 • 2 min
One of the most misleading things about our world today is the increased sense of comfort we feel. Yes, on average planes crash less. Yes, diseases have been cured. Yes, infant mortality rates have made progress. Yes, crime is down. But the slow and st…
Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own
Aug 17, 2018 • 2 min
There’s no way around the fact that the Stoics talked about suicide. A lot. To the Stoics, suicide was famously the “open door”—the option available to anyone, at any moment. Cato, one of the most vaunted and towering Stoics, went through that door, gr…
You Always Have a Move to Make
Aug 17, 2018 • 1 min
Today you might find yourself dealing with something tough. Stuck in a new situation. Hit with a situation that’s been developing for some time, but only now is bringing you pain. In tight situations like these, you need energy, creativity and above al…
Exploring the Softer Side
Aug 17, 2018 • 1 min
There is a harshness and a hardness to the Stoics. But there is also a softness and a grace, the velvet glove over the iron first. Think of Marcus talking about how we must come to our “journey’s end with a good grace, just as an olive falls when it…
Be Tough On Yourself and Understanding To Others
Aug 17, 2018 • 1 min
Remember that Stoicism isn’t about judging other people. It’s not a moral philosophy you’re supposed to project and enforce onto the world. No, it’s a personal philosophy that’s designed to direct your behavior. This is what Marcus Aurelius meant wh…
It Helps To Be A Little Deaf
Aug 17, 2018 • 2 min
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was given a little piece of advice on her wedding day by her mother in law: “In every good marriage, it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.” Ginsburg would say she applied it to her job too: “I have employed it as well in every wor…