The Daily Stoic

The Daily Stoic

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For centuries, all sorts of people—generals and politicians, athletes and coaches, writers and leaders—have looked to the teachings of Stoicism to help guide their lives. Each day, author and speaker Ryan Holiday brings you a new lesson about life, in


Daily Stoic Sundays: Find Contentment Where You Are NOW With Stoicism and Stillness
Jul 12 • 10 min
In today’s Daily Stoic Sunday episode, Ryan talks about how the pursuit of stillness and inner calm can be found, how he finds it in his own life, and what it allows him—and you—to do.Get Stillness Is the Key: https://geni.us/dr4yGThis episode is…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and Congressman Dan Crenshaw Talk Fortitude, Outrage, and How to Be Inspired By History
Jul 11 • 47 min
In today’s episode, Ryan and Congressman Dan Crewnshaw talk about personal accountability, who if anyone we should commemorate as heroic figures, how to follow the lead of Epictetus and “choose not to be offended,” and more.Congressman Dan Crenshaw…
Don’t Let Them Steal What Can’t Be Replaced
Jul 10 • 2 min
“In early January, Kobe Bryant got a note from a reporter at ESPN. She was working on a story about a moment in Lakers’ history and she wanted to feature Kobe in the story… It would not have taken Kobe long to answer that inquiry. Maybe fifteen…
This Is What Living Through History Looks Like
Jul 9 • 3 min
“Perhaps you’re alarmed about the state of the world. Perhaps you’re horrified at the risks and dangers that lurk about. Pandemics, political chaos, riots, people at each other’s throats, unprecedented events—from cancelled NBA seasons to impeachments…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and Writer David Frum Discuss Political Courage and Standing Up For Your Beliefs
Jul 8 • 47 min
In today’s episode, Ryan and conservative pundit David Frum talk about how it feels to be a conservative who opposes Donald Trump, the limitations that political correctness imposes on our culture, and more.David Frum is a journalist and conservative…
It’s Time for Class
Jul 8 • 2 min
“No one is saying you’re not smart. No one is saying that you aren’t pretty well-versed in philosophy. You might even be the most informed out of all of us. But that doesn’t change the fact that education is a process. It’s not something you do once. It…
Keep Your Eye on the Big Picture
Jul 7 • 3 min
“It’s so easy to be reactive these days. We are drowning in information from unlimited sources. Much of it is inaccurate, most of it is sensational. We’re told of crises and failures, we see the worst of our fellow humans, and rarely are we given the…
It’s Never A Straight Line
Jul 6 • 2 min
“You had plans for how this year was going to go. You had plans for your business, for your relationships, plans for your house or your finances. Maybe you had a cause you had been working on for years. Maybe you thought your moment was approaching….
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and Billy Bush Discuss the Stoic Reaction to Public Shaming and How to Grow Beyond It
Jul 5 • 36 min
In today’s episode, Ryan and TV news anchor Billy Bush discuss how to deal with being publicly shamed, the practical use of premeditatio malorum, and what Billy learned from being enmeshed in a significant public controversy.Billy Bush is the current…
This Work Must Continue
Jul 4 • 21 min
“Today is the 4th of July. It’s the celebration of the American Declaration of independence, which was signed on this date in 1776. There’s no question that document—inspired as it was by ideas from the Stoics—was an essential one. As we have talked…
This Is the Challenge We’re Rising To
Jul 3 • 3 min
“There’s almost nothing more difficult than other people. They’re just tough. They fall short. They get in our way. They do hurtful things. They surprise and scare and bewilder us. This was true in the ancient world, just as it’s true today.. And…
So What Do We Do?
Jul 2 • 4 min
“It’s hard to argue that we are not beset by many problems as a society. Depending on where you sit, those problems might be different, and that’s its own problem in and of itself. But the good news is that the path to solving those problems is the…
We Are Who We Honor
Jul 1 • 4 min
“It was Malraux who said that we judge a society by the monuments it puts up. So imagine a society that puts up statues to tyrants, to someone who nearly succeeded in tearing an empire apart, who did horrible, inexplicably cruel things, even by the…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and E.S. Schubert Talk the Purpose of Monuments and Why Statues Matter
Jul 1 • 39 min
In today’s episode, Ryan and sculptor E.S. Schubert discuss the purpose of monumental statues and the complex issues surrounding who society venerates and why.E.S. Schubert is a sculptor based in Kansas City. He has designed and sculpted monumental…
It’s Not Over Until It’s Over
Jun 30 • 2 min
“We have fought very hard, together, in an unprecedented display of global and national courage, justice, discipline and wisdom.How many people have been saved from COVID-19? Too many to count. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t handled perfectly. We didn’t do…
You Need to Have a Vision
Jun 29 • 2 min
***If you enjoyed this week’s podcast, we’d love for you to leave a review on Apple Podcasts. It helps with our visibility, and the more people listen to the podcast, the more we can invest into it and make it even better.Sign up for the Daily Dad…
Daily Stoic Sundays: How to Feel Like You Have Enough
Jun 28 • 10 min
In today’s episode, Ryan discusses how to feel satisfied with what life has brought you—whatever that may be—using the wisdom of the Stoics.This episode is brought to you by the Theragun. The new Gen 4 Theragun is perfect for easing muscle aches and…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and Jessica Lahey Talk Parenting, the Process of Writing, and How to Fail Gracefully
Jun 27 • 43 min
In today’s episode, Ryan and author and teacher Jessica Lahey talk about how to teach your kids to fail, the process of putting together a book, and more.Sign up for The Stoic Parent, Daily Stoic’s newest course, today:…
They Still Hide Money In Books
Jun 26 • 7 min
“As a young boy, the famed basketball coach George Raveling learned an invaluable lesson about the power of both knowledge and ignorance from his grandmother, who raised him. ’Why did the slave masters hide their money in books, George?’ she asked the…
It Keeps Coming and Won’t Stop Coming
Jun 25 • 3 min
“In March, Brent Underwood thought he’d found the perfect place to ride out the pandemic: a small California ghost town he’d been slowly renovating and turning into a resort. It was safe and isolated, beautiful and quiet. Then a freak series of snow…
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, Should Stop
Jun 24 • 3 min
“If you’ve ever made it to the end of Homer’s Odyssey, you might have noticed a rather strange part of the ending. It’s a part that’s talked about a lot less than the rest of the poem, possibly because it makes so little sense. You see, despite spending…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and Lauryn and Michael Bosstick (The Skinny Confidential) Talk Stoic Morning Routines and How to Manage Your Life in Quarantine
Jun 24 • 31 min
In today’s episode, Ryan speaks with Lauryn and Michael Bosstick of The Skinny Confidential, They talk about how they start their days off strong with their morning routines, the value of their time and how they protect it, and how they have changed…
This Is Your Fight
Jun 23 • 3 min
“It’s tempting to tell yourself that we don’t have a problem. That you don’t have to get involved. This doesn’t affect your community. It’s not actually that big of a deal. Look at these numbers instead, a commenter whispers. But what about this other…
Life is Overwhelming. Or Is It?
Jun 22 • 2 min
“It’s incredible to think of what has occurred in the last twenty years. The tech bubble. 9/11. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Great Recession. The Syrian Civil War. The Arab Spring. And now the COVID-19 Pandemic, and unprecedented protests and…
Daily Stoic Sundays: This Is Your Most Important Job
Jun 21 • 5 min
“How do we emulate the great parents of history? How do we work on improving ourselves at this essential job? The one for which we are given next to no training, for which many of us had less than ideal models for in our own childhood?”Ryan talks about…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and Brett McKay Talk Parenting, Living Through History, and Modern Manliness
Jun 20 • 40 min
In today’s episode, Ryan and Brett McKay, founder of The Art of Manliness (https://www.artofmanliness.com/), talk about being a parent in the age of COVID-19, the changing definition of manliness, and more.Sign up for The Stoic Parent, Daily Stoic’s…
You Need Less Philosophy
Jun 19 • 1 min
“All this reading, all these quotes. This love of learning, our fascination with books. No one is saying it’s a bad thing. Because it isn’t. Still, it’s worth using, from time to time, a quip from Steven Pressfield’s Gates of Fire on yourself.”Learn…
You Must Avoid This Weakness
Jun 18 • 2 min
“We’d like to think that our mind is our friend, but of course it isn’t. The Stoics knew this. The mind wants to jump to conclusions. The mind wants us to get worked up. The mind wants not to be challenged, not to have to admit it was wrong. That’s why…
The One Purchase That Pays You Back
Jun 17 • 3 min
“Is a Stoic stingy and frugal about everything? Some take it that way, but that’s probably the incorrect view. Instead, a Stoic should think both about eliminating needless expenses as well as spending liberally on the things that matter.”Ryan discusses…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and Ben Hardy Talk Family, Self-Improvement, and How to Take On a Challenge
Jun 17 • 42 min
In today’s episode, Ryan and Ben Hardy, the author and organizational psychologist, talk about the path of self-improvement, being a parent to foster children, and how to make permanent positive change.Ben Hardy is an organizational psychologist who has…
We Have To Try Harder To Get There
Jun 16 • 3 min
“It’s not that our ancestors didn’t know what was right, it was that they had trouble fully getting there. In the opening pages of Meditations, Marcus Aurelius describes how the early Stoics like Thrasea, Helvidius, and Cato inspired him to believe in a…
Are You Holding Your Shield?
Jun 15 • 2 min
“The world has asked a lot of us over the last few months.” Ryan describes the sacrifices we’ve all had to make and why they were so necessary on today’s Daily Stoic Podcast.***If you enjoyed this week’s podcast, we’d love for you to leave a review on…
Daily Stoic Sundays: It’s Always the Time to Act Bravely
Jun 14 • 12 min
In today’s episode, Ryan reads an excerpt from Stillness Is the Key, describing the importance of actually taking action and living the way that your philosophy would direct you to act.This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. Athletic Greens…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and UT Basketball Coach Shaka Smart Talk Self-Control and Using Your Time Wisely
Jun 13 • 41 min
In today’s episode, Ryan and University of Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart talk about focusing on what you can control, how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected college basketball, and more.Coach Shaka Smart has been involved with college basketball…
This Is the Most Powerful Force on Earth
Jun 12 • 2 min
Over and over again, the Stoics remind us how weak we are compared to the force of nature and the whims of nature. Why get angry at the world, Marcus asks—quoting Euripedes—as if the world would notice? Seneca pokes fun at Claudius and his absurd…
This Is Why You Have to Slow Down
Jun 11 • 2 min
“There’s no question that we are facing a number of pressing issues as a planet: Public health dangers. Homelessness. The rise of authoritarian China. Police brutality. Failures of the regulatory state. It’s an interesting question: Are these crises…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and Author Tom Mueller Talk Whistleblowers, Courage, and Doing the Right Thing
Jun 10 • 47 min
In today’s episode, Ryan and bestselling author Tom Mueller talk about the history of whistleblowers, the crisis of courage in the world right now, how Stoicism helps us cultivate our conscience so we can do the right thing and why societies punish…
No One Can MAKE You Upset
Jun 10 • 2 min
“These are strange times. We all have entrenched political beliefs, for which the stakes seem dreadfully high. There are trolls everywhere. There are stupid people everywhere. Both the trolls and the ignorant seem to revel in saying things designed to…
This Is the Hardest Thing
Jun 9 • 3 min
“So much is happening. At home. Abroad. On the news. At work. You have the things you need to do. And the emails that keep pouring in. You have the distractions that your own head creates. You have the criticisms and actions of the mob outside. There…
How Can You Lighten the Load for Others?
Jun 8 • 3 min
“When things get hard, a Stoic steps up. We’ve talked about that before. We do this because we know we can carry a heavy load, a load heavier than most people. That’s what Marcus Aurelius was saying when he said it doesn’t matter whether something is…
Daily Stoic Sundays: This Is Why You Have to Care
Jun 7 • 11 min
In today’s episode, Ryan reads his latest article, discussing the unfair advantage that privilege gives to certain of us because of the color of our skin, and how it is incumbent on us to fight back against it.This episode is also brought to you by…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and Sunday Night Football’s Michele Tafoya Talk Stoicism and Making the Most of Each Day
Jun 6 • 36 min
In today’s episode, Ryan and Michele Tafoya, NFL sideline reporter and radio host, discuss self-improvement in quarantine, sympatheia, and more.This episode is brought to you by WHOOP. WHOOP is a fitness wearable that provides personalized insights on…
You Have to Fight
Jun 5 • 2 min
“Maybe you don’t have to worry about being pulled over for little reason. Maybe you don’t have to worry about not getting the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you’ve never been in trouble. Maybe you know how to de-escalate tense situations, maybe you can…
You Should Meditate on Greatness
Jun 4 • 4 min
“The Stoics were some of the keenest admirers of human greatness. Marcus Aurelius opens his Meditations with seventeen entries—nearly ten percent of the book—reflecting upon the various influential individuals in his life. Nearly every other page…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and Charlamagne tha God Talk Opening Your Mind and Political Power
Jun 3 • 44 min
In today’s episode, Ryan and Charlamagne tha God, host of The Breakfast Club and author, speak on a number of different topics—from reading and fatherhood to Charlamagne’s always-present interest in politics.This episode is brought to you by WHOOP….
To Wrong One Is To Wrong All
Jun 3 • 2 min
“It’s easy to forget. It’s easy to think small. But this life is not just about us. Our loyalty and duty is not just to ourselves, to our family, or to our immediate neighbors. The Stoics believed that we were all one.”***If you enjoyed this week’s…
This Is a War We Are Fighting
Jun 2 • 3 min
“It would be easy to say that this is someone else’s fight. It is easy to say, as some pundits have said, that this is not a fight at all. You don’t go to war with a virus. That’s not how it works. But according to Andrew Roberts, the great biographer…
You Always Have The Power To Resist
Jun 1 • 3 min
“When one considers the notion of ‘resignation and the principle of ‘amor fati,’ it might not seem like the Stoics and the idea of political resistance would go together. But this modern misconception would come as a surprise to the many tyrants and…
Daily Stoic Sundays: How Marcus Aurelius Conquered Stress (and the Rest of Us Can Too)
May 31 • 10 min
In today’s episode, Ryan reads his latest article describing how Marcus Aurelius fought against the stresses and anxieties that come with running a continent-spanning empire. He draws actionable insights and tactics from Marcus Aurelius’s practices…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and Cal Newport Discuss Staying Productive in a Pandemic and How to Maintain Focus
May 30 • 48 min
On today’s podcast, Ryan talks with author and computer scientist Cal Newport about staying productive during the pandemic, how to maintain your focus on what’s most important to you, and more. Get your copy of Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism:…
Remove These Three Words From Your Life
May 29 • 3 min
“You’ve said them a thousand times. You said them when you were a kid. You said them last year. You’ve caught yourself saying them recently as you watched the world tear apart your carefully made plans.It’s not fair.”Find out how to get “it’s not fair”…
At Least It’s a Chance to Do This
May 28 • 2 min
“It would have been much better if this hadn’t happened. If your employee had listened. If your parents could respect your boundaries. If your neighbor wasn’t so rude. If people hadn’t been reckless. If your kids had passed their math test. If nobody…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and Coach George Raveling Talk Meeting Harry Truman, Reading and the Perils of Ego
May 28 • 42 min
On today’s podcast, Ryan talks with Coach George Raveling, the longtime college basketball coach and member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. They talk about Coach Raveling’s encounters with historical figures like Martin Luther King,…
Stress Is a Fact Of Life, Being Stressed Is Not
May 27 • 4 min
“You think the Stoics didn’t experience stress? Of course they did… Seneca had health problems, was exiled, and then had to show up to work for years in Nero’s court—walking on eggshells around an unstable man with a penchant for bloodlust. Epictetus…
There’s Nothing Better Than A Simple Pleasure
May 26 • 2 min
“The Spartans were known for their simple, rustic ways. Unlike the citizens of Athens, who dined on the most gourmet fare, the Spartans ate almost nothing but “gruel,” a kind of broth or blood pudding. Visitors noted just how unappetizing this soup was,…
This Will Make You Feel Better
May 25 • 2 min
“It’s been rough. We’re not meant to be inside this long. We’re not meant to spend this much time with our devices. We’re not meant to hit pause like this on our jobs, on our businesses, on whatever projects we have been working on.How long will this…
Daily Stoic Sundays: You Must Stare This Scary Fact in the Face
May 24 • 12 min
On today’s podcast, Ryan discusses the idea of memento mori as depicted in art throughout the centuries, and why it might be such a common motif.This episode is brought to you by Future. Future pairs you up with a remote personal trainer that you can…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and Coach Buzz Williams (Texas A&M) Talk Habits, Time Management and the Lessons You Can Learn from the Pandemic
May 23 • 52 min
Today Ryan talks with Buzz Williams, head coach of the men’s basketball team at Texas A&M. They discuss the impact of the COVID-19 quarantine on college sports, the personal progress they have made during the pandemic, how they practice reading, and…
There Is Nothing Special About Money
May 22 • 3 min
“For all the poverty he practiced and Stoic philosophy he wrote, clearly there was some part of Seneca that was dazzled by money. Even though he was born into a wealthy family, he wanted more and more of it. That’s what drew him into Nero’s service,…
Do You Know How To Wait?
May 21 • 2 min
“Shakespeare waited out a plague. So did Isaac Newton. The poet John Keats spent 10 days in a harbor, waiting out a typhus epidemic. Think of the soldiers who spent years being posted overseas. Think about the ones who spent years recovering from their…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan Talks Freedom and Personal Responsibility with David French
May 20 • 42 min
Today Ryan talks with author and reporter David French about the balance between personal and civic responsibility, the ability to take criticism, the polarizing battles between the left and right in today’s politics, and more.This episode is brought to…
The Horror of Words Not Turned Into Deeds
May 20 • 2 min
“It’s always been tempting to talk a good game. People have been doing it for thousands of years. But today, it’s never been easier to talk and virtue-signal. There are whole social networks designed to enable you to do this. They reward you for what…
Bring On Your Wrecking Ball
May 19 • 2 min
“What does a Stoic say to adversity? To recessions? To pandemics? To setbacks and struggles and months stuck inside? To uncertainty and cramped quarters and a collapse of confidence? What do they say to the looming question that has so many people…
Don’t Learn This Dangerous Lesson
May 18 • 3 min
“It’s easy to look at history and learn the wrong lesson. You see Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar and can’t help but connect their enormous ego to their incredible successes. Or you watch Elizabeth Holmes escape consequences for her frauds and Adam…
Daily Stoic Sundays: Ryan Talks with South Carolina Football About How to Practice Stoicism
May 17 • 27 min
Today’s podcast features Ryan talking to the University of South Carolina Gamecocks football team, discussing how you can use Stoicism in a practical way to keep learning, make (and stick to) your own standards, and make the most of your defeats.This…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and Historian Andrew Roberts Talk Leadership, Character and How One Person Can Change The World
May 16 • 45 min
Today Ryan talks with writer and historian Andrew Roberts about the process of writing about historical figures, the ways that character is tested during trying times, Roberts’ take on figures like Napoleon and Lloyd George, and more. Books by Andrew…
Better To Have Than Not To Have
May 15 • 3 min
“It’s easy to think—given their spurning of so many of the pleasures that other people chase—that the Stoics didn’t want or like anything. When you see the lengths that Seneca and Marcus go to criticize luxury, you might assume they lived like paupers….
We Are All Tied Up Together
May 14 • 4 min
“These are rough times. Then again, times are always rough for someone. If not for us, then for someone else. And according to the Stoics, that means they’re rough for everyone. What’s bad for the hive is bad for the bee, Marcus Aurelius wrote. Meaning:…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and NBA G League Coach Coby Karl Answer Your Questions About Stoicism and Sports
May 13 • 29 min
Today Ryan talks with Coby Karl, a former member of the Los Angeles Lakers and current head coach of the NBA G League’s South Bay Lakers. They take questions from Daily Stoic readers and listeners about the merits of coaching, and how to stay physically…
Always Keep A Role Model In Mind
May 13 • 2 min
“It’s key then, if you want to be good and do good, that you have a kind of North Star in your life that keeps you centered. A role model who draws you back on course when the events of life or the drift of inertia subtly misdirect you.”Learn more about…
This Is Who To Turn To When You’re Struggling
May 12 • 4 min
“For thousands of years people have been turning to Stoicism when they had problems, big and small. Obviously you know that on some level or you wouldn’t be reading this email. But do you really practice this? Or, are you treating philosophy like some…
Just Do One Thing Every Day
May 11 • 2 min
“Seneca wrote a lot of letters to his friend Lucilius. We don’t know a lot about Lucilius, only that he was from Pompeii, he was a Roman knight, he was the imperial procurator in Sicily then its Governor, he owned a country villa in Ardea. For all his…
Daily Stoic Sundays: Life Comes at You Fast. So You Better Be Ready.
May 10 • 10 min
In today’s episode, Ryan reads his latest article about the unpredictability of life, and how we should always be prepared for the worst and the best that it has to offer us.Read the original article here: https://geni.us/rLEd0This episode is brought to…
Ask Daily Stoic: How Do I Deal With Imposter Syndrome?
May 9 • 33 min
In today’s episode, Ryan talks about the new box set (https://geni.us/A6gX) of his first three books on Stoicism. He reads from Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic (https://geni.us/GMzk) and tackles your questions, too.This episode is brought to you by WHOOP….
Can You Help Others First?
May 8 • 3 min
“Here we are in tough times. A global pandemic has struck wide swaths of the population. Governments are struggling under the load. Economies are crashing. These are the kinds of moments that make average people want to shrink, to turn inward, to focus…
There Is Only One Person to Listen To
May 7 • 3 min
“Like any person in power, any person in the public spotlight, any person striving to be great, Marcus struggled with caring too much about what other people thought of him. Good or bad—as animals, we are designed to think this matters, lest our…
Now Is The Time For Structure
May 6 • 2 min
“Maybe right now you’re stuck at home, maybe you’re not working. Your kids might be home with you. Certainly the normal way of doing things has been significantly altered. Well, now is the time to follow the Stoic practices more than ever.” Find out…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and Robert Greene Talk Plagues, Politics, and Polarization
May 6 • 55 min
In today’s episode, Ryan talks with his mentor, author and strategist Robert Greene. They discuss historical links to today’s pandemic, the 2020 US presidential election, Robert’s thoughts on making alive time out of the state-imposed quarantines, and…
It’s Important to Have Reminders
May 5 • 3 min
“It seems crazy now, but amongst the Stoics in the ancient world there was once intense disagreement over whether philosophers should have “precepts” or sayings to remind them of their teachings. Stoics like Aristo, who lived around the time of Zeno,…
Yours Is Not to Reason Why
May 4 • 2 min
“It just doesn’t make sense, does it?They have every incentive in the world to get it right, and they can’t. They’re putting their own livelihood at risk. All the information is out there. They had the same opportunities as you did, maybe even better…
Daily Stoic Sundays: All You Need Are a Few Small Wins Every Day
May 3 • 9 min
In today’s episode, Ryan describes how success rarely comes in one fell swoop, but rather is built a little more every day, bit by bit.Building success day by day is just one of the many things you can do with an effective, efficient habits regimen. Get…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and NBA Legend Pau Gasol Talk Books, Basketball, and Stoicism
May 2 • 46 min
In today’s episode, Ryan talks with NBA All-Star, Laker legend and humanitarian Pau Gasol. They discuss everything from Pau’s reading habit to his advocacy for female coaches in basketball and more.1:51 - Intro6:22 - Being a big reader—and how that was…
You Do the Math
May 1 • 4 min
“At least 200,000 people are marked for death worldwide and they don’t even know it. They are the back half of ‘the curve.’ They are essentially walking dead.That is the cold, harsh reality of statistics. Of the numbers.”Ryan describes why we can’t let…
In the End, It’s Nothing
Apr 30 • 2 min
“From the outside, it can all seem very impressive. Think of Marcus Aurelius, marching into Rome in triumph. Think of him looking down at the crowds in the coliseum. Think of him looking up, as they erect a 39 meter marble column to his accomplishments….
You Will Not Be Made Whole
Apr 29 • 2 min
“This was not your fault. You work hard. You pay your taxes and your insurance premiums. You follow the law. So you should be good, right?”Ryan shows why, when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic or any other misfortune, that’s not necessarily the…
This Is a Critical Strength to Cultivate
Apr 28 • 3 min
“Whatever you decide to do with your life, whatever path you decide to walk, people are going to stand in your way. They’re going to doubt you. They’re going to give you bad advice. They will do you wrong. On purpose and unintentionally. They’ll lie….
You Have to Care About the Most Vulnerable
Apr 27 • 3 min
“By now, you’ve probably seen the viral CNN clip of the woman heading to church in Ohio. Aren’t you worried about being exposed to COVID-19, the reporter asks? No, she says confidently, I am bathed in Jesus’s blood. But aren’t you worried about exposing…
Daily Stoic Sundays: What Marcus Aurelius Can Teach Frontline Responders During COVID-19
Apr 26 • 47 min
This past January, Ryan spoke with the USAF’s 31st Fighter Wing, stationed in Aviano, Italy. Later this area would experience a virulent outbreak of COVID-19. Ryan recently recorded a follow-up call with the Aviano base, which you can hear in today’s…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan Talks Social Media, Social Distancing, and Stoicism with Congressman Mike Gallagher
Apr 25 • 62 min
In this episode, Ryan speaks with US Representative Mike Gallagher from the 8th District of Wisconsin. They talk how not to be distracted by social media and disinformation, how Stoics dealt with plagues both past and present, and how anyone can…
This Is a Game of Inches
Apr 24 • 3 min
“Zeno lost everything in a shipwreck in the 3rd century BC. A family fortune. His occupation. Everything. He washed up in Athens anonymous and penniless. When he died, an old man, some forty years later, he was not only prosperous, he was one of the…
We All Fall Short
Apr 23 • 2 min
By now, you may have seen the video. A devout religious woman grabs the hand of Pope Francis as he greets the crowd of pilgrims and children. He tries to move on. She refuses to let go. In frustration, he slaps her hand and continues on. It’s not a…
Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light
Apr 22 • 3 min
“In April 46 BCE, 1,974 years ago, Cato the Younger died. In one sense, you might say he died willingly, as he chose death by his own hand rather than life under the tyranny of Julius Caesar. But no one who ever met Cato, nor anyone who reads of his…
Ryan Interviews Brent Underwood, Ghost Town Proprietor
Apr 22 • 37 min
On this special bonus episode of the Daily Stoic podcast, Ryan interviews Brent Underwood, a partner in Ryan’s marketing endeavors and the owner of an actual ghost town, Cerro Gordo. They discuss the practice of Stoicism when you’re the only person…
We Are What We Repeatedly Do
Apr 21 • 4 min
Arete.That’s a powerful word. To the Greeks, it meant excellence. It was the ultimate expression of human greatness—moral, physical, spiritual. It’s what the Stoics were chasing. It’s what you’re chasing today. But how do we get there?Ryan discusses how…
Keep Calm and Carry On
Apr 20 • 3 min
“Things are rough out there, it’s hard to argue with that. The stock market. Quarantines. Hospitals filled to capacity, and beyond. Travel plans cut short. Families cut off from loved ones. What is happening?! you might find yourself asking. This is…
Daily Stoic Sundays: Using Stoicism To Become Unbeatable
Apr 19 • 10 min
In today’s episode, Ryan talks to the University of Alabama football team and discusses how to use the concepts of Stoicism to take on any challenge.When you keep one of the Daily Stoic’s medallions by your side, it helps to cement into place the…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan and John Brownstein Discuss the Science Behind the Pandemic
Apr 18 • 26 min
In this episode, Ryan speaks with John Brownstein about the COVID-19 pandemic and what we all should do to stay safe and fight back against it. John Brownstein is a professor at the Harvard School of Medicine and Chief Innovation Officer at Boston…
How Will You Remember This?
Apr 17 • 3 min
Right now, we’re looking at this all up close. It’s in our face. Being stuck at home. Watching business—and money—evaporate. Our plans are cancelled. Opportunities that we so looked forward to are gone, never to return again. How long will this last?…
We Cannot Be Servants To Our Stuff
Apr 16 • 2 min
There is a story about King Philip, the father of Alexander the Great. He was leading a massive army campaign, and had picked an ideal spot to stop to break camp. As he began to give out orders, an aide rushed up to inform him that the location lacked…
We Always Lose When We Lose Our Tempers
Apr 15 • 2 min
Something happened. You got pissed. Now two bad things have happened. That’s just a fact. Because getting angry rarely makes things better—even if it helps you get what you thought you wanted. It taxes your heart. It causes you to be mean to other…
Your Job is to Get The Best Out of People
Apr 14 • 3 min
One of the trickiest parts of holding yourself to a high standard in life is that it’s only natural to start to expect others to do the same. You’re not taking the easy road, why should they be able to? You’re putting in the work, why aren’t they? You…
You Have A Gun To Your Head
Apr 13 • 3 min
It’s one of the most surprising scenes in literature and film. In Fight Club, Tyler Durden walks into a 24-hour convenience store and puts a gun to the head of the cashier. It’s an act of disturbing violence and cruelty. “Give me your wallet,” Tyler…
Daily Stoic Sundays: The Important Thing is to Not Be Afraid
Apr 12 • 9 min
On today’s episode, Ryan talks about the importance of courage in the face of great peril—and the distinction between being scared and being afraid. It’s especially relevant in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.Read the original article here:…
Ask Daily Stoic: Ryan Holiday & Tim Ferriss Discuss “Alive Time vs Dead Time”
Apr 11 • 69 min
Ryan speaks with Tim Ferriss, the author, podcaster, and investor. Tim has written five New York Times best selling books, including The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors. His podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, has over…
It’s Okay To Ask For Help
Apr 10 • 2 min
It’s the strongest and the most helpful among us that often have the most trouble asking for help. The frontline responders know that their duty is to rush toward the bang, while others run away. A parent knows that they put their own interests and…
In Any Event, Do Your Best
Apr 9 • 3 min
Look: none of us are truly self-sufficient. The success of a salesman depends on whether they’ve been given a good product and solid leads. The project manager is only as good as the projects her bosses give her to manage and the employees she decides…
You Don’t Control When, You Do Control How
Apr 8 • 2 min
As we’ve discussed, one could look out at the world right now and see a lot of negative. Or you could grab the other handle, as Epictetus says, and see the positive. It’s an open question: Is this a great time to be alive or a terrible one? Are we…
When You’re Going Through Hell, Do This…
Apr 7 • 4 min
When Seneca was exiled, he wanted to give up, but he didn’t. He wrote. He prepared for the opportunity that would eventually come. When Musonius Rufus was exiled, he did the same. He kept himself busy not just with writing, but by discovering a natural…
Now Is The Time For Heroes
Apr 6 • 2 min
It was a decade or so ago, in the depth of the global financial crisis, that the musician and writer Henry Rollins offered a prescription that once again feels relevant. Indeed, it feels relevant because his advice was timeless, and applies in ordinary…
Daily Stoic Sundays: The Four Stoic Virtues
Apr 5 • 7 min
On today’s episode, Ryan discusses the Four Stoic Virtues: Courage, Justice, Moderation, and Wisdom. Listen to find out why the Four Virtues are so important in today’s world. And check out the new Daily Stoic Four Virtues medallion at…
Ask Daily Stoic: Chris Guillebeau
Apr 4 • 45 min
In this super-sized edition of Ask Daily Stoic, Ryan talks about his visit to a mastermind event in Nashville, where he shared ideas and inspiration with other successful authors. Ryan also chats with Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of…
We’re Part of This Beautiful Tradition
Apr 3 • 3 min
Do you remember the first time you heard about the Stoics? Maybe you read about them in another book. Maybe someone you know recommended them to you. Remember that feeling though? When those words first started going through your brain and you felt them…
The Way, The Enemy and The Key
Apr 2 • 3 min
We should always be looking for mantras and epigrams. Ideas that are true and applicable in every situation, to every generation, across all time. The Stoics had more than a few they liked:“Character is fate,” which came to them from Heraclitus. “Life…
From The Past, We Are Able To Tell The Future
Apr 1 • 3 min
Let’s imagine a scenario in which almost all our modern scholarship was lost. Imagine if some great fire at the Library of Alexandria wiped away the last few hundred years of breakthroughs in psychology and biology. Suddenly, countless research papers…
How a Few Can Help The Many
Mar 31 • 3 min
Perhaps you know the story of the 300 Spartans. It was first immortalized by Herodotus, and then has been passed down through the ages (there’s a wonderful Steven Pressfield novel about it). If you don’t know the story, here’s what happens: Facing an…
These Are The Three Most Important Words of Wisdom
Mar 30 • 2 min
Almost 50 years ago, the Beatles whispered to us some words of wisdom: Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.One of the most relatable passages in Meditations is actually about just that. Marcus writes about sitting next to someone who smells or…
Daily Stoic Sundays: Should I Watch The News
Mar 29 • 9 min
Ryan discusses the merits of watching the news, and how to tune out distractions, with Steven Pressfield.
Alive Time or Dead Time. What Will It Be?
Mar 28 • 3 min
Here you are, stuck indoors, stuck somewhere you don’t want to be. Maybe also you’re stuck because you’re 17 going on 30. Maybe also you’re stuck because you’ve got another two years left on your enlistment or because you’re waiting for a position to…
Ask Daily Stoic - How Do I Use Stoicism To Fend Off Negativity?
Mar 28 • 20 min
Ryan talks about the Edmund Morrison biography of Thomas Edison, reads a passage from The Obstacle is the Way (on sale for a few more days), and fields more questions from his readers and fans.
When Things Are Tough, Remember This
Mar 27 • 3 min
Most languages have some expression to the effect of “When it rains, it pours.” For instance, in Latin malis mala succedunt means troubles are followed by troubles. In Japanese, they say, “when crying, stung by bee.” The point of these expressions is to…
No One Escapes This Law
Mar 26 • 3 min
This is not another note about memento mori.It’s about a different immutable, inescapable law of human existence that comes to us from the Stoics through Heraclitus (one of Marcus Aurelius’ favorites): Character is fate. After death and taxes, this is a…
We All Have Flaws… What Matters is What We Do With Them
Mar 25 • 5 min
Jeannie Gaffigan is a control freak. She takes charge. She cares about the little things and getting those things right. She always has. It’s hard to argue that this part of her personality hasn’t served her well. She and her husband, the comedian Jim…
You Can Seize This Moment
Mar 24 • 5 min
This is an email we weren’t expecting to send, but sometimes sudden events call for sudden responses. Right now you, and much of the world, are locked down, doing your part to fight the spread of COVID-19. Perhaps you’ve already been trapped inside for…
The World Is Trying To Teach You
Mar 23 • 2 min
This was all pretty sudden, wasn’t it? The economy was chugging along. Life was going well. We had travel plans. We had work plans. We had things we were doing. We had a sense for what we’d do next. And then… bam. Now, here we are. You know what that…
Daily Stoic Sundays: You Don’t Control What Happens, You Control How You Respond
Mar 22 • 9 min
In today’s episode, Ryan reads his piece from March 12, “Remember: You Don’t Control What Happens, You Control How You Respond.” He discusses how to stay safe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic—and how to think and act Stoically during this crisis.
Ask Daily Stoic: Keeping Calm About Coronavirus
Mar 21 • 25 min
In this week’s Saturday episode, Ryan discusses the coronavirus pandemic and how to deal with it like a Stoic.
You Should Always Find Something to Learn
Mar 20 • 3 min
We all have our way of doing things. We have what we were directly taught. We have the values that our culture gives us. We have the lessons we picked up by experience. It’s understandable then, when we see someone else doing things totally differently,…
This Is One Thing You Must Not Do
Mar 19 • 2 min
It’s possible, Marcus Aurelius said, to not have an opinion. You don’t have to turn this into something, he reminds himself. You don’t have to let this upset you. It’s not that the Stoics lived in a world where people didn’t do bad things or a world…
When the System Breaks Down, Leaders Stand Up
Mar 18 • 11 min
It began in the East. At least, that’s what the experts think. Maybe it came from animals. Maybe it was the Chinese. Maybe it was a curse from the gods. One thing is certain: it radiated out east, west, north, and south, crossing borders, then oceans,…
Your Obstacles Are Trying To Teach You Something
Mar 17 • 3 min
One way to go through life is to turn away from the things that are hard. You can close your eyes and ears to what is unpleasant. You can take the easy way, forgoing difficulty whenever possible. The other way is the Stoic way—it entails not only not…
We Need You To Be Bold
Mar 16 • 4 min
On the Roman calendar, March 15th was known as the Ides of March—once most notable as the year’s deadline for settling debts. That changed in 44 BC when Julius Caesar walked into the Theatre of Pompey for a routine meeting with the Roman Senate. Caesar…
Daily Stoic Sundays: Four Strategies for Reading Better
Mar 15 • 9 min
Ryan talks about how you can improve your reading skill and get more from the books you love.
Ask Daily Stoic: Austin Kleon
Mar 14 • 29 min
Ryan chats with Austin Kleon, author of great books like Steal Like An Artist.
You Must Be a Good Example
Mar 13 • 2 min
Think of the pressure Marcus Aurelius must have been under. Not just of the temptations and the corruptions of power, but all the eyes that were on him. Forget the judgments of history, there was literally an “emperor cult” in Rome that worshipped the…
How Prepared Are You To Start Over?
Mar 12 • 3 min
The Austrian writer Stefan Zweig experienced both incredible good fortune and misfortune in his life. He was born into wealth; he met some of the great minds of his time, from Freud to Arthur Schnitzler; he traveled extensively and became Europe’s…
You Should Always Find Something To Do
Mar 11 • 2 min
There was time to kill in Rome, just as there is today. A dinner started late. A meeting got cancelled. Travel delays meant being stuck in this place or that place for a couple days. Something would break and someone would need to go into town for…
You Might Never Be Famous — And That’s O.K.
Mar 10 • 3 min
Marcus Aurelius talked a lot about fame. He called it a worthless clacking of tongues and liked to point out things like how few people remember the emperors who preceded him, or how the generations to come will be the same annoying people he knows now….
Why Anger Might Be The Worst Vice
Mar 9 • 2 min
There are many different vices out there. It’s long been a debate amongst priests and philosophers if some are worse than others, or if they are all created equal. Even amongst the Stoics there was some debate—were all sins the same? Was being or doing…
Daily Stoic Sundays: How a Stoic Deals with Bad News
Mar 8 • 7 min
Ryan describes how a Stoic can deal with bad news—and not just move past it, but use it to fuel their success.
Ask Daily Stoic: How Does a Stoic Deal with Aggressive People?
Mar 7 • 22 min
Ryan talks about the new Daily Stoic offices, reads a selection from The Obstacle is the Way, and answers your questions.
Wisdom is the Most Important Virtue
Mar 6 • 3 min
Courage. Temperance. Justice. These are the critical virtues of life. But what situations call for courage? What is the right amount? What is the right thing? This is where the final and essential virtue comes in: Wisdom. The knowing. The learning. The…
Justice: The Most Important Virtue
Mar 5 • 4 min
Being brave. Finding the right balance. These are core Stoic virtues, but in their seriousness, they pale in comparison to what the Stoics worshipped most highly: Doing the right thing. There is no Stoic virtue more important than justice, because it…
Temperance is the Most Important Virtue
Mar 4 • 3 min
Yesterday we discussed the Four Virtues, and talked about the primacy of courage. Of course, life is not so simple as to say that courage is all the counts. While everyone would admit that courage is essential, we are also all well aware of people whose…
Courage is the Most Important Virtue
Mar 3 • 3 min
The Stoics believed that a life well lived was one which always countered adversity with virtue. And they believed in four aspects of virtue: courage, temperance, justice, and wisdom. Each and every situation calls for one or more of these four Stoic…
You Can Make This A Game…and Win
Mar 2 • 4 min
The Stoics said it over and over: the most important thing to remember about pain and suffering is that it is inevitable. It can’t be avoided, so don’t make it worse by fearing it, worrying about whether it will come, wondering how bad it will be….
Daily Stoic Sundays: How to Have Your Best Week Yet
Mar 1 • 10 min
Ryan uses eight Stoic lessons to teach us how to have the best week ever.
Ask Daily Stoic: Guest Starring Steven Pressfield
Feb 29 • 35 min
This week’s extra-long Saturday episode of Ask Daily Stoic features Ryan talking about, and speaking with, author Steven Pressfield, writer of classic books such as The Legend of Bagger Vance, Gates of Fire, and The War of Art.
You Must Wash Away This Dust
Feb 28 • 2 min
Life is a dirty, dusty affair. It was that way in Rome and it’s that way today. The puddle in the street splashes us. Someone else’s nasty mood sullies our demeanor. The heat makes us sweat. The news of the world makes us worried. We spill some food, we…
You Are A God
Feb 27 • 2 min
The Stoic writings alternate between reminding us of our humility and our power. For humility, we have the concept of amor fati, for example—we should learn to love our fate, “good or bad” because we’re powerless to do anything about it. And with equal…
Repeat These Three Words To Yourself Constantly
Feb 26 • 3 min
“Facts are stubborn things,” John Adams once said, “and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictums of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” How true it is. It’s an idea that goes to the very essence of what…
You Must Read… and Re-Read
Feb 25 • 3 min
It’s no secret that John Adams is one of history’s brilliant minds. He was widely respected as a lawyer, a politician, a president, and as a husband, a father, and a friend. But for all this, he was often overwhelmed by anguish, despair, discontent,…
Don’t Be Zero-Sum
Feb 24 • 3 min
Steven Pressfield, whose historically-driven novels about ancient Greece have sold millions of copies, wrote a recent post that posits that there are two kinds of people in the world—Zero-Sum and Non-Zero-Sum. Hitler was zero-sum. He believed that the…
Ask Daily Stoic: How Do You Recognize What’s in Your Control?
Feb 22 • 15 min
Ryan talks about speaking to service members at Aviano Air Base in Italy. Ryan reads a passage from Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit. You can also find these videos on the Daily Stoic YouTube channel.
Do What’s Right, Not What’s Easy
Feb 21 • 3 min
It was a somber scene as the pallbearers marched down Pine Street carrying the coffin of General William Tecumseh Sherman on this day 129 years ago. It grew more somber still as the rain started to drizzle and then rain steadily. The temperatures…
Who Can You Adopt?
Feb 20 • 3 min
One of the most remarkable traditions of ancient Rome—and one for which we have no real modern analog—was the tradition of wealthy, successful families adopting and raising young men (sometimes women) to be their heir. Scipio Aemilianus, one of the…
Why Be Angry About Something That’s Already Gone?
Feb 19 • 2 min
It’s another mess. It’s not your fault, but you’re dealing with it. It’s another rude person— representing a company you are paying money to—who doesn’t seem to get how this is supposed to work. It’s another example of disrespect, or bias, or plain…
How To Be Proven Wrong
Feb 18 • 4 min
Imagine writing a book that sells millions of copies over the course of nearly a decade, and then, out of nowhere, another author comes along and challenges it. What would you do? In Malcolm Gladwell’s massive bestseller Outliers: The Story of Success,…
Don’t Take the Money. Don’t Take the Money.
Feb 17 • 2 min
Cicero and Cato both refused to take bribes, despite how widespread the practice was for politicians at the time. Cato refused to be enriched by his office in any form, even though that was even more common. Marcus Aurelius refused inheritances that…
Ask Daily Stoic: Who Are Some Famous Figure Influenced By Stoicism?
Feb 15 • 23 min
Ryan talks about putting the finishing touches on his upcoming book, Lives of the Stoics. Featuring today’s entry from The Daily Stoic. You can also find these videos on the Daily Stoic YouTube channel.
This Is a Command, Not a Mere Reminder
Feb 14 • 3 min
Like most solo pursuits, the artist’s life is one that ceaselessly tests one’s mental fortitude. Steven Pressfield likens it to dragon slaying. The dragon being what he’s coined the “Resistance”—that voice that questions your abilities, your worth, your…
You Must Think For Yourself
Feb 13 • 2 min
It’s never been easier to get information than it is today. You have access to Wikipedia, to podcasts, to social media, and a near infinite library of books. You can chat with just about anyone about anything. We live in a wonderful time where facts and…
Can You Be Still?
Feb 12 • 4 min
There is probably no piece of literature that the Stoics were more familiar with than the Odyssey. Seneca quotes it. Marcus Aurelius quotes it. Pretty much everyone in the ancient world was so familiar with Homer’s verses that they could be quoted…
Here’s How To Become an Informed Citizen
Feb 11 • 3 min
When people hear Epictetus quoted to justify not watching the news—“If you wish to improve, be content to appear clueless or stupid in extraneous matters”—they get upset. It’s understandable. For generations, especially in America, people have been…
It Takes What It Takes
Feb 10 • 3 min
Watching a master do their work is always impressive. Whether it’s an orator working a crowd or an athlete contorting their body with ease and finesse, it’s incredible to see what people are capable of. We see things and wonder how they’re possible. We…
Ask Daily Stoic: Can You Be Informed Without Cable News?
Feb 8 • 16 min
Ryan talks about his upcoming talk in Italy and about James Stockdale, and answers questions from fans. Featuring today’s entry from The Daily Stoic. You can also find these videos on the Daily Stoic YouTube channel.
You Still Have Time. You Have So Much Time.
Feb 7 • 2 min
Seneca’s life is worth looking at for anyone who thinks they missed their shot, who thinks it might be “too late” for them. Because in his early twenties, just as his career as a lawyer was taking off, Seneca was struck with a terrible blow of…
You Must Look Beneath The Surface
Feb 6 • 3 min
Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus, like all Romans, seemed to have loved the theatre. Seneca, in particular, had a great fascination for what “actors in theatre who imitate the emotions” could teach him about dealing with people in real life. Many…
If Everyone Is Woke, Then No One is Awake
Feb 5 • 3 min
It’s unquestionably a good thing that the world is waking up to the idea of social justice. For too long, marginalized groups have been precisely that—marginalized. Oppression, racism, unequal access to opportunity have been too common for too long in…
It’s Better To Share
Feb 4 • 3 min
For Julius Caesar’s grip on power to be complete, he had to eliminate his rivals. So too did Octavius, Caesar’s nephew who succeeded him. Claudius eliminated senators who threatened his reign. Nero, even with the moderating influence of Seneca,…
You Must Win The Morning!
Feb 3 • 2 min
One of the most relatable moments in Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations is the argument Marcus Aurelius has with himself in the opening of book 5. It’s clearly an argument he’s had with himself many times, on many mornings—as have many of us: He knows he has…
Ask Daily Stoic: How Do I Deal With Long Term Problems?
Feb 1 • 18 min
**Now featuring twice as much content per episode**In each of the Ask Daily Stoic Q&A episodes, Ryan will answer questions from fans about Stoicism. You can also find these videos on the Daily Stoic YouTube channel.
Shine On, You Crazy Diamond
Jan 31 • 3 min
There has always been an odd streak in the Stoics. Zeno used to practice begging people for money, even though he had plenty. Cleanthes worked as a manual laborer for so long, some in Athens thought it might be a front for something. Cato used to walk…
If You Don’t Read, You’re Functionally Illiterate
Jan 30 • 3 min
General James Mattis is part of a long line of tradition of Stoic warriors. Just as Frederick the Great carried the Stoics in his saddlebags as he led his troops, or Cato proved his Stoicism by how he led his own troops in Rome’s Civil War, Mattis has…
How You Look At Things Matters
Jan 29 • 2 min
If you’ve ever been stuck in Los Angeles traffic at night, you know it’s miserable. But if you’ve ever seen a helicopter shot of Los Angeles at night, you’ve seen how this same miserable experience can suddenly be made to seem beautiful and serene. We…
You Have To Be Kind To Yourself
Jan 28 • 2 min
There’s no question that much of what we talk about in this philosophy is hard. Specifically, it’s hard on the person practicing it. Stoicism asks you to challenge yourself. It doesn’t tolerate sloppy thinking or half measures. It wants you to undergo…
Stop Freaking Out. None of This Is New.
Jan 27 • 2 min
You think this hasn’t happened before? Whatever it is, whatever you’re freaking out about?A crisis at the borders. Agitators riling up the youth. Excess and immorality. Rising demagogues. Distrust in institutions. A backlash against free speech and…
Ask Daily Stoic: How can I get my partner interested in Stoicism?
Jan 25 • 8 min
In each of the Ask Daily Stoic Q&A episodes, Ryan will answer questions from fans about Stoicism. You can also find these videos on the Daily Stoic YouTube channel.
You Must Think The Thing You Cannot Think
Jan 24 • 2 min
It’s fitting that one of the most important things you can do as a parent requires you to think about something that’s very nearly impossible for a parent to consider. It comes to us from Marcus Aurelius by way of Epictetus. As you kiss your son good…
You Have To Learn Something From Everyone
Jan 23 • 3 min
The Stoics were learners. It’s hard to escape that conclusion when you read their writings. Marcus Aurelius begins Meditations by cataloging the lessons he learned from the many people in his life, big and small. Seneca was constantly looking at other…
A Good Morning Creates A Good Life
Jan 22 • 3 min
The Stoics believed in the power of ritual, particularly at the beginning and the end of the day. For them, routines and rituals were not productivity hacks, but ways of living. In a world where so much was out of our control, committing to a practice…
Do It Because It’s Right. Not So They’ll Like You
Jan 21 • 3 min
We’ve talked a lot recently about the importance of not making yourself a slave to outside approval. Because it’s not something you control. Because your own standards should be so high that you already have plenty to worry about. Still, there is so…
Everything is Figureoutable
Jan 20 • 2 min
We all have problems. We have an employee we can’t figure out how to motivate. We have a kid with behavioral issues. We have a job we want to leave, or a couch we want to get up a complicated flight of stairs. We have clients who ask for things that…
Ask Daily Stoic: The Stoic Response to Getting Your House Burgled, and more
Jan 18 • 11 min
In each of the Ask Daily Stoic Q&A episodes, Ryan will answer questions from fans about Stoicism. You can also find these videos on the Daily Stoic YouTube channel.
When It Comes To Family, We Have To Be Kind
Jan 17 • 3 min
Marcus Aurelius’s step brother Lucius Verus was hardly a great man. Unlike Marcus, he was not as driven or as a smart. He was not always so diligent in his responsibilities. We hear that he liked to party. But still, Marcus loved his step-brother and…
All We Can Do Is Propose
Jan 16 • 2 min
There is a great expression: Man proposes, God disposes. You don’t have to be religious to understand or agree with it. It just means: All we can do is plan…then life intervenes. Certainly, the Stoics built much of their philosophy around this humble…
You Win Some, You Lose Some
Jan 15 • 3 min
Politics, like all contests, involves winners and losers. Cato lost elections, such as his first run for praetorship in 55 BCE and his run for consul in 51 BCE. Cicero lost some as well. James Stockdale lost in a landslide as Ross Perot’s running mate,…
We Are All Equal At The End
Jan 14 • 3 min
“Alexander the Great and his mule driver both died and the same thing happened to both.” It is one of Marcus Aurelius’s most withering lines. The most powerful conqueror on earth was, Marcus implied, in the end, no better or no less mortal, than the man…
The Kind of Opportunity You Should Always Say Yes To
Jan 13 • 3 min
Marcus Aurelius and Seneca both made no secret of their objection to escapism. They both spoke negatively of people who frittered their existence away, chasing one tourist destination after another. Seneca likened these folks to someone tossing and…
Ask Daily Stoic: January 11, 2020
Jan 11 • 10 min
In each of the Ask Daily Stoic Q&A episodes, Ryan will answer questions from fans about Stoicism. You can also find these videos on the Daily Stoic YouTube channel.
You Don’t Get To Not Care
Jan 10 • 3 min
There are a lot of tensions in Stoicism, as we have talked about before. How do you balance acquiescing to fate and embracing your own agency? How do you balance being aware of the dangers of the future without worrying about or fearing it? How do you…
Here’s an Important Power You Have
Jan 9 • 2 min
The ask is just an ask, you know.Whether they’re asking you to pass the salt or asking you for a hundred thousand dollar loan, whether they’re asking you what you weigh or if you can come in and work on Sunday, the ask is just the ask.We decide that…
Where Are They Now?
Jan 8 • 2 min
It’s a staple of entertainment shows and those clickbait-y links at the bottom of the page on news websites: Where are they now? What happened to those famous TV stars of your youth? You’ll never believe what so-and-so is up to today.Funnily enough,…
Try This Secret Roman Party Trick
Jan 7 • 3 min
The Greeks and the Romans were known for their parties. They threw huge ones. Seneca famously owned—not rented—three hundred ivory tables for entertaining. Imagine that. The ancients also knew how to drink. Cato liked to drink. So did Socrates. There’s…
All You Control is How You Play
Jan 6 • 2 min
It would be wonderful if teams didn’t cheat and refs always got the calls right. It’d be wonderful if people in the media knew what they were talking about and didn’t stake out positions just to be controversial or contrarian. It’d be wonderful if other…
Ask Daily Stoic: January 4, 2020
Jan 4 • 8 min
In each of the Ask Daily Stoic Q&A episodes, Ryan will answer questions from fans about Stoicism. You can also find these videos on the Daily Stoic YouTube channel.
Pain Is Self Chosen
Jan 3 • 2 min
“My pain is self-chosen,” Layne Staley sings on the melancholy Mad Season hit, River of Deceit. “At least I believe it to be.” That belief, the Stoics would concur, is well-founded. Pain is a choice. Now before you get upset hearing that, wait a second….
You Become What You Practice
Jan 2 • 4 min
The Stoics were all about routine and repetition. It wasn’t just about knowing what the right thing was, it was about doing it daily. Fueling the habit bonfire, they said. It was about creating muscle memory. Epictetus said that philosophy was something…
All We Control Is The Beginning of Things
Jan 1 • 2 min
Clearly the Stoics were doers. They ran for public office. They fought in the army. They started business ventures. They created artistic works. How can this fit, though, with what Marcus called “the art of acquiescence?” Isn’t this resignation a…
Do Not Ignore This Warning
Dec 31, 2019 • 3 min
In Greek mythology, the god Apollo curses the Trojan princess, Cassandra, with the power of accurate prophecy that will always be ignored. In Aeschylus’ play Agamemnon, Cassandra is brought back to Greece after the capture of Troy as one of the great…
You Have To Do What You Think Is Right
Dec 30, 2019 • 2 min
There will come a moment in your life when you are faced with an important decision that appears to have two choices: one that feels like the status quo, the path of least resistance, the way things have always been done. And then there is the one that…
Ask Daily Stoic: December 28, 2019
Dec 28, 2019 • 8 min
In each of the Ask Daily Stoic Q&A episodes, Ryan will answer questions from fans about Stoicism. You can also find these videos on the Daily Stoic YouTube channel.
Tell Yourself: This Is All Worth It
Dec 27, 2019 • 4 min
Even if you’re not a college basketball fan, you may have heard about this incredible upset in 2018, when top-ranked University of Virginia was defeated by University of Maryland-Baltimore County in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. It was the…
Here is a Pleasure You Can Have Anytime
Dec 26, 2019 • 2 min
The Stoics did not reject worldly pleasures. They rejected the reckless ones. The dangerous, ephemeral ones. The Stoics were not afraid of joy. They just wanted to earn it. Epictetus loved to quote Socrates: “Just as one person delights in improving his…
Always Focus on the Response
Dec 25, 2019 • 3 min
It was December 25th, 1776. One of the darkest times in the American Revolution. George Washington was planning to cross the Delaware, a desperate move necessitated by a string of setbacks and ebbing support for the revolution across his struggling…
This is a Day About Love
Dec 24, 2019 • 4 min
Here we are on Christmas Eve once again. The last couple of years, we took time during this holiday to look at the beautiful symmetry between two of the greatest philosophers to ever live: Jesus and Seneca. It’s incredible to think that these two men…
You Must Commit to This Task This Next Year
Dec 23, 2019 • 4 min
As a new year is about to begin, many of us are thinking about how we’d like to get healthier, wealthier, and wiser over the next twelve months. Of course, to the Stoics, what really mattered was that final bucket—getting wiser. Understanding yourself…
Ask Daily Stoic: Dec 21, 2019
Dec 21, 2019 • 10 min
In each of the Ask Daily Stoic Q&A episodes, Ryan will answer questions from fans about Stoicism. You can also find these videos on the Daily Stoic YouTube channel.
Remember: You Can Lead A Horse To Water, But You Can’t Make It Drink
Dec 20, 2019 • 3 min
There is a fascinating statue of Seneca and Nero done by the Spanish sculptor Eduardo Barrón in 1904. Even though it depicts a scene centuries after the fact, it manages to capture the timeless elements of the two men’s characters. Seneca, well into old…
Just Shrug It Off Pt 2
Dec 19, 2019 • 2 min
Epictetus tells us the story of a Stoic philosopher named Agrippinus, who, during Nero’s reign, was delivered some awful news one morning: He was exiled. Effective immediately. Agrippinus’s response? “Very well, we shall take our lunch in…
You Must Train The Coward Inside You
Dec 18, 2019 • 3 min
There’s a long-standing connection between philosophy and soldiering. Marcus Aurelius, Cato, Socrates, and many other philosophers were all soldiers. James Stockdale, whose A-4E Skyhawk was shot down over Vietnam, was too. As he recounts: “After…
Blame Yourself—Or No One
Dec 17, 2019 • 2 min
The causes of things are complicated, and rarely do they go how we’d like them to go. So it’s easy to point the finger—at other people, at unfair conditions, at the weather, at the advice we got. If it hadn’t been for _______, I’d have won. Why did…
A New Year is a New Opportunity
Dec 16, 2019 • 4 min
We are what our choices make us. Do we walk the fifteen minutes to work, or do we take an Uber? Hit the snooze button, or get up early? Do we have the difficult conversation, or hide from it? Is good enough really good enough? Will you resolve to be…
Ask Daily Stoic
Dec 14, 2019 • 9 min
The first Saturday Q&A episode. In each of these episodes, Ryan will answer questions from fans about Stoicism. You can also find these videos on the Daily Stoic YouTube channel.
Why You Should Help Others
Dec 13, 2019 • 3 min
In his fascinating biography, The House of Percy, Bertram Wyatt-Brown describes a beautiful scene involving William Alexander Percy, the son of a senator, a poet, and lifelong student of the Stoics. Percy is sitting on a hill looking down into the ruins…
How to Raise Your Kids Like Seneca Did
Dec 12, 2019 • 2 min
Although we know nearly nothing about Seneca’s family life or how his children turned out, we know at least that he gave good advice. We know that as a wealthy, powerful, and famous man, the deck was stacked against him. These are corrosive, corrupting…
Don’t Be a Fool
Dec 11, 2019 • 1 min
There are lots of ways to spot a foolish person. They say dumb things. They make unforced errors. They make the same unforced error over and over again. You tend to recognize one when you see one. Seneca, quoting Epicurus, had a good test: “The fool,…
Why You Should Do Your Own Writing
Dec 10, 2019 • 3 min
There is something strange you find when you study the early Stoics. Not Marcus Aurelius and Seneca and Epictetus, but the Stoics who influenced them. The names you don’t hear much: Cleanthes. Posidonius. Panaetius. Aristo. Antipater. Chrysippus. What…
Remember: You’re Just Passing Through
Dec 9, 2019 • 2 min
Reputation is a powerful thing. The desire to keep it, maintain it, to not betray it, was a force that made someone like Cato unstoppable. On the other hand, the desire to make it—to have a name that people know—can just as easily be a kind of…
On a Long-Enough Timeline, We Are All Blips
Dec 6, 2019 • 3 min
Here’s an interesting exercise. Pull up a Spotify playlist for hits from the ‘90s. Or turn on a satellite radio station built around that time. As you listen to the songs, note how many you recognize and how many you’ve never heard of. Now go back an…
Don’t Blend In. Stand Up and Stand Out.
Dec 5, 2019 • 2 min
In a famous exchange—which we wrote about a while back—Agrippinus explained why he was spurning an invitation to attend some banquet being put on by Nero. Not only was he spurning it, he said, but he had not even considered associating with such a…
You Are Part of a Team (Whether You Know It Or Not)
Dec 4, 2019 • 3 min
One question you hear the comedian Marc Maron ask a lot of standups and actors at the beginning of his interviews is: Who did you come up with? Who were your guys? By that he means, who were the comedians starting out around the same time as you? Who…
There is Only One Place to Look for Approval
Dec 3, 2019 • 2 min
We all want to be liked. We want the acceptance of our peers. We want to be chosen. We want the stamp of approval—from the critics, from the crowd, from the market.This makes sense…except it doesn’t. Is it not true that most people are not very…
We All Need Monuments to Guide Us
Dec 2, 2019 • 4 min
Nobody cared more about statues than the Greeks and the Romans. In fact, the only reason we know what many of the Stoics looked like is because they were preserved in marble by sculptors many thousands of years ago. It wasn’t just philosophers who knew…
You Must Avoid The Orgy of Materialism and Greed
Nov 29, 2019 • 4 min
The viciousness of the mob is one of the darker themes in Roman history. There was the angry crowd that tore Saturninus to pieces during Marius’s time. There were the grieving, angry citizens who, riled up by Mark Antony’s funeral oration after the…
Be Grateful for Everything—Even the Tough Stuff
Nov 28, 2019 • 4 min
On this day of American Thanksgiving, we’re supposed to make time for thanks, to actively think about that word that has become almost cliché in wellness circles: gratitude. But what is gratitude? Some people think of it as being thankful for all the…
Don’t Let Time Surprise You
Nov 27, 2019 • 2 min
Queen Elizabeth I was a remarkable woman. She was uncommon and special is so many ways. She was believed to have known nine languages. She was considered one of the best educated women of her time. And she presided over many English battle…
You Have The Power To Straighten Your Back
Nov 26, 2019 • 2 min
One of the most inspiring themes in the history of Stoicism is how the Stoics responded to tyrants and to adversity. There was Cato, refusing to roll over and just let Caesar destroy the Republic to which Cato had dedicated his life. There was Thrasea…
You Must Take All This in Stride
Nov 25, 2019 • 1 min
Some people will love you. Some people will hate you. One day, Marcus Aurelius wrote, the crowd will cheer and worship you. Other days they’ll hit you with brickbats and hate. You get a lucky break sometimes—get more credit and attention than you…
Set This Before Your Eyes Every Day
Nov 22, 2019 • 3 min
We talk about the importance of positive thinking. Of making sure we are surrounded by good vibes and good energy. Of cutting out the negative influences of social media and the news. Of looking for the good in everything we see.And, of course, that is…
How To Concentrate Like a Roman
Nov 21, 2019 • 2 min
There is so much on our plate. We have emails to respond to. Calls to make. There is that meeting in a couple hours. The folks we met with yesterday are waiting on an answer or a decision we promised we’d make. Twitter beckons. So do our hopes and…
Thoughts and Prayers are not Enough
Nov 20, 2019 • 3 min
The cycle would be almost humorous by now if it were not so sad. Politicians who have sat idly by, not doing their jobs to address the vexing, pressing problems of our time, rush in when tragedy strikes. Whether it’s a natural disaster that caught a…
If You Want Tranquility, Here’s How to Find It
Nov 19, 2019 • 2 min
We all want more peace, right? More stillness. The quiet confidence that comes from being on the right path, as Seneca described it, and not being distracted by all those which crisscross ours. Well, how do you get that? It’s simple, Marcus Aurelius…
You’ll Have to Beat Me First
Nov 18, 2019 • 3 min
There is a famous moment in the history of Sparta, when they were threatened with invasion by Phillip, King of Macedon. Phillip, whose son was Alexander the Great, demanded the submission of the Spartans. It would be better to submit to him now, he…
Don’t Run From Pain, Embrace It
Nov 15, 2019 • 2 min
It makes sense that we avoid pain. We don’t want to cause it and we don’t want to feel it. We’d rather life be easy. This makes sense—at least in the short term.But the Stoics knew that in the long term, such an attitude made you weak, made you soft….
Remember that People Avoid the Truth
Nov 14, 2019 • 2 min
Time and time again, we hear the Stoics tell us to say what is right, to do what is right, to be comfortable swimming upstream or rejecting the choices of the mob. Marcus Aurelius said this. Seneca said it. Cato said it. Nassim Taleb says it still…
There’s Nothing Special About Philosophers
Nov 13, 2019 • 3 min
If you ask most people to describe a philosopher, they end up painting a picture of somebody who works at Harvard and wears a lot of wool and tweed and corduroy. Maybe they’ll describe somebody from ancient history, dressed in a toga, talking about big…
This Is How You Get Tranquility
Nov 12, 2019 • 3 min
Marcus Aurelius said that pain either affects the body or the soul. What’s the difference? “The soul can choose not to be affected, preserving its own serenity, its own tranquillity. All our decisions, urges, desires, aversions lie within. No evil can…
You Have To Find The Good In People
Nov 11, 2019 • 2 min
Marcus Aurelius was clearly torn about his fellow man. He was loving and kind and spoke repeatedly of serving the common good. He was also clearly frustrated and disappointed with the flaws of the people around him. Like many great men, he had trouble…
Remember: You Are Not Everything
Nov 8, 2019 • 3 min
One of the most haunting moments in all of literature is the moment when King Lear hits rock bottom. He has destroyed his kingdom. He has lost his family. He has lost his sanity. He says to Gloucester as they stand on a cliff:“They told me I was…
These Are The Keys To Success
Nov 7, 2019 • 3 min
For nearly three decades, Tom Morris, one of the world’s top public philosophers and pioneering business thinkers, has been on a mission to bring philosophy back to the center of daily life. Travelling the globe working with world-class business…
Is It Even A Question?
Nov 6, 2019 • 2 min
The little known Stoic philosopher Agrippinus was apparently the king of one-liners. There was the time he was informed he’d been exiled and responded, “Very well, we shall take our lunch in Aricia.” There was another time, we are told by Epictetus,…
Don’t Die Before Your Time
Nov 5, 2019 • 2 min
We’re busy. We’re tired. We have so much to do. We had dreams once, sure, but they slowly deflated. The mortgage, the kids, the job, watching TV, that’s how we fill our days. It’s a slow downward spiral that Bruce Springsteen sang about in Racing in the…
You’ve Chosen Your Own Hell
Nov 4, 2019 • 3 min
In Marcus Aurelius’s time, Roman religion was a hodgepodge of different rituals and ideas, which were evident in Marcus’s own behavior. For instance, he deified his wife and his stepfather Antoninius, but at the same time spoke repeatedly about how this…
There is Only One Place to Look
Nov 1, 2019 • 3 min
There was a Stoic named Diotimus who messed up. Like really messed up. Sometime around the turn of the first century BC, he committed what can only be described as an unjustifiable crime. He forged dozens and dozens of letters that framed the rival…
Which Founder Will You Be?
Oct 31, 2019 • 4 min
It’s easy to whitewash history, to look back at a group of people who did an incredible thing and assume they were all on the same page when it happened. We forget the egos and the personality flaws. We forget their struggles and infighting.The Founding…
Don’t Follow The Mob
Oct 30, 2019 • 4 min
It’s a fitting warning about man’s nature that in the Old Testament, God would command his followers, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil,” and to resist the pull of the multitude when they persecute someone on false charges, only to find…
You Must Live Below Your Means
Oct 29, 2019 • 3 min
The Roman elite were constantly living beyond their means. Leaders like Cicero lived lavishly—he owned something like nine different villas at the same time. Other Romans believed the path to political power lay in essentially bribing the public with…
It All Rests on Pillars of Sand
Oct 28, 2019 • 3 min
Imagine, one day you’re king and the next day you’re not. Literally. That’s the story of Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon, who was made King of Naples and Spain, only to be forced to flee in exile after the reversal of his family’s destiny….
You Are Mortal. You Don’t Have To Be Stupid.
Oct 25, 2019 • 2 min
Yes, the Stoics talk a lot about death. How it’s inevitable. How life is fragile. How it can be taken from us at any moment. It’s in our power to live well, Seneca said, but not in our power to live long.It’s easy to take from these commentaries that…
It’s True: You’re Exactly Where You’re Supposed To Be
Oct 24, 2019 • 3 min
Keanon Lowe grew up in a family struggling to make ends meet. His father left when he was nine. When money was tight or when things were hard, his mother would try to encourage him by saying that it was alright. “You’re just where you’re supposed to…
Let This Humble You
Oct 23, 2019 • 2 min
Here’s a humbling thought: Even if your life is amazing and successful, even if you mind your own business and are kind to everyone you meet, somebody, somewhere is going to be happy when you’re dead. Somebody who wants to buy your house, somebody who…
You Must Read to Lead
Oct 22, 2019 • 3 min
Many “smart” people aren’t actually smart. They just know a lot of trivia. Sure, they can tell you all sorts of facts, they have a library of big thick books filled with enormous words, or they can give you the up-to-the-minute news about a political…
Just Shrug It Off
Oct 21, 2019 • 2 min
In 1961, Walker Percy published his great Stoic-inspired novel The Moviegoer. Like all classics, the book’s success was by no means guaranteed. In fact, it became the subject of one of the strangest controversies in publishing history. You see, even…
You Must Learn How To STOP
Oct 18, 2019 • 3 min
Seneca wrote about our natural, involuntary physiological responses. Someone pours cold water on you, and you shiver. They jump out of nowhere to scare you, and you let out a scream. Someone drives rudely, cuts you off, prevents you from passing, and…
What’s Bad For The Hive Is Bad For The Bee
Oct 17, 2019 • 3 min
Although the ancient world was filled with injustices and cruelty, we moderns flatter ourselves when we give ourselves (too much) credit for our enlightened notions of fairness and empathy, because the speeches and the arguments of the ancient Greeks…
Time is a Flat Circle
Oct 16, 2019 • 3 min
It’s unlikely, given his feelings about the Christians, that Marcus Aurelius ever read any of the books in the Old Testament, but if he had read Ecclesiates he might have liked what he saw. Because like the Stoic observations that fill Meditations, over…
This is How Dumb Anger Is
Oct 15, 2019 • 2 min
Seneca wrote eloquently about how absurd the need to “get even” is. No one would think to return a bite to a dog or a kick to a mule, he writes, but when someone hurts us or pisses us off, that’s exactly what we do. We smile and laugh at this clever…
Anyone Can Strive for Virtue
Oct 14, 2019 • 3 min
“Where are all the Stoic women? Surely this is not a philosophy only for and by men.” It is a common and reasonable criticism of this philosophy, one that Daily Stoic seeks to understand and ameliorate whenever possible.Recently, we had the opportunity…
Never Stop Trying To Get Better
Oct 11, 2019 • 2 min
The Cynic philosopher Diogenes was once criticized by a passerby for not taking care of himself in his old age, for being too active when he should have been taking it easy and resting. As per usual, Diogenes had the perfect rejoinder: “What, if I were…
Tomorrow Will Have Suffering In It
Oct 10, 2019 • 2 min
Life is full of suffering, acute and benign. We come down with the flu. We are hit with a costly expense. Someone with power over us abuses their responsibility. Someone we love lies or hurts us. People die. People commit crimes. Natural disasters…
You Must Carve Out Time For Quiet
Oct 9, 2019 • 3 min
According to the philosopher Blaise Pascal, at the root of most human activity is a desire to escape boredom and self-awareness. We go to elaborate measures, he said, to avoid even a few minutes of quiet. It was true even of the people you think had all…
What a Terminal Diagnosis Changes
Oct 8, 2019 • 3 min
“What would you do if tomorrow you were diagnosed with terminal cancer?” We’ve all had a hypothetical question like that thrust in front of us at one point or another. It’s supposed to make us consider how different life might be, how drastic a change…
What Are We Fighting About, Really?
Oct 7, 2019 • 2 min
There’s a great lyric in the bridge of the new Bruce Springsteen song, Tucson Train: We fought hard over nothin’We fought till nothin’ remainedI’ve carried that nothin’ for a long timeDoesn’t that just perfectly capture—in such a sad and telling…
Every Day is a Bonus
Oct 4, 2019 • 2 min
Here’s a way to feel good every single day, no matter what happens. A way to appreciate even a day stuck in the airport or putting out fires. It’s an exercise from Seneca. He said that a person who wraps up each day as if it was the end of their life,…
What Is Luck and What Is Not
Oct 3, 2019 • 3 min
The philosopher and writer Nassim Taleb once said that, “Hard work will get you a professorship or a BMW. You need both work and luck for a Booker, a Nobel, or a private jet.” His point was that certain accomplishments are within the reasonable grasp of…
How To Always Be Well
Oct 2, 2019 • 2 min
In one of his letters, Seneca tells us of an old Roman pleasantry that friends would exchange when greeting each other: “If you are well,” one would say after inquiring how someone was doing, “it is well and I am also well.” It’s a nice little custom,…
This Is The Key To The Good Life
Oct 1, 2019 • 4 min
Why did Marcus Aurelius study philosophy? What were Seneca or Confucius or Buddha trying to achieve as they pored over their books or sat deeply in thought? What have archery masters and Olympic boxing instructors and generals tried to instill in their…
The Kind of Politics You Should Study
Sep 30, 2019 • 3 min
Following today’s politics is easy. You turn on the news and a bunch of pretty people tell you that your side is good and the other side is irredeemably evil. You pull up social media and you get a bunch of rage profiteers telling you what to be…
Just Don’t Make Things Worse
Sep 27, 2019 • 2 min
At the beginning of The Odyssey, Zeus utters a famous lament that must, one imagines, be shared by all gods and parents and presidents alike:This is absurdThat mortals blame the gods! They saywe cause suffering but they themselvesIncrease it by folly.At…
Planting Trees In Shade We’ll Never Know
Sep 26, 2019 • 3 min
Late last year, a man named Ken Watson died at age 87, but before he did, he made sure to gift wrap fourteen presents for his two year old neighbor. He’d always told her that he’d live to be 100, and when that looked like it wasn’t going to happen, he…
Put Everything In the Calm and Mild Light
Sep 25, 2019 • 3 min
You know sometimes you hear a quote or an aphorism and you think, That’s it. That’s me. That’s my philosophy for life. Well it turns out that is a pretty common and timeless thing. At the very least, we know it goes back to the time of George…
You Must Tame Your Temper
Sep 24, 2019 • 4 min
You try to turn on your television, only to find that the batteries in the remote are dead and no one bothered to replace them. Your computer freezes in the middle of finishing something important and you lose hours of work. You’re running late for your…
What To Learn From History
Sep 23, 2019 • 3 min
When one looks at the dark moments of history, it’s hard not to be a little afraid. Look at what people have done to each other—look at how bad things have gotten. In Seneca’s time, many horrific acts were not only common but commonly accepted. Like…
Study The Real Secret of Greatness
Sep 20, 2019 • 2 min
When we think of greatness, we think of success. We think of strength. We think of influence. We think of the man or woman exerting their will over the universe, or dominating on the athletic field, or dazzling us with their creative brilliance. We…
Don’t Worry About Them, Worry About Yourself
Sep 19, 2019 • 2 min
We spend a lot of time worried about what other people are going to do. Will that colleague muscle you out of the way for the promotion? Will another coffee shop or yoga studio or accountant open up on the block and steal your customers? Is so-and-so…
Why Statues Matter
Sep 18, 2019 • 2 min
Nobody cared more about statues than the Greeks and the Romans. In fact, the only reason we know what many of the Stoics looked like is because they were preserved in marble by sculptors many thousands of years ago. The Stoics knew that statues were…
Don’t Take Control, Take Charge
Sep 17, 2019 • 2 min
In her page-a-day book Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much, the writer Anne Willson Schaef makes a distinction that the Stoics would have certainly agreed with—there is a difference, she writes, between trying to control everything in your life and…
You Must Surrender
Sep 16, 2019 • 3 min
One way to read The Odyssey is that it’s a story of human perseverance. Odysseus is cunning and determined, he’s willing to do everything and anything to get back to Ithaca…and eventually, because of that, he finally does. That’s certainly the…
Avoid Special Treatment Like The Plague
Sep 13, 2019 • 3 min
During the American Revolution—as in any war—the British quite rightly targeted the estates and the landholdings of the leadership on the American side. Because to them, these men weren’t founders—they were instigators. At one point in the war, George…
The Real Terrible Thing
Sep 12, 2019 • 3 min
Epictetus could not have summed up Stoicism better than when he said: “It’s not things that upset us, but our judgement about things.” What he meant was that the world is neither positive or negative, it is simply objectively indifferent. A hurricane is…
It’s Okay To Want, But Not To Need
Sep 11, 2019 • 2 min
This was a big argument amongst the early Stoics: What was necessary for the good life? What was actually important to the wise man? They came up with a pretty straightforward but almost impossible to obtain answer: All the wise man should care about is…
A Test of Your Worth
Sep 10, 2019 • 2 min
Here’s a question to ask yourself about your work and your life: Do you create value for society or do you extract it? Are you a giver or a taker? Do you make the world better with your choices and actions and lifestyle?When the Stoics talk about…
Treat People As You Would Be Treated
Sep 9, 2019 • 3 min
It must be said that the Stoics were cowardly when it came to slavery. Marcus Aurelius, who believed that we were all part of a common whole, that we were all equal before life and death, who so admired a former slave like Epictetus, who writes at one…
We Admire The Struggle
Sep 6, 2019 • 2 min
It was not lost even on the Stoics that some parts of this philosophy come more naturally to some people than others. Some folks just seem chill by default. Some are so-called “old souls” who have wisdom and perspective, almost from birth. Others were…
If You Need A Friend…
Sep 5, 2019 • 2 min
In her beautiful book about the Los Angeles Public Library fire, Susan Orlean captures the magic of what libraries can offer. She describes walking through the empty library in Downtown LA, not a soul in sight, and feeling connected to all the different…
Fulfilling Your Destiny Will Not Be Easy
Sep 4, 2019 • 3 min
It’s pretty incredible to think that Hadrian was able to see the potential in Marcus Aurelius. Hadrian somehow, even though Marcus was just a boy, could tell that this kid had something. That he might be able to withstand the stress and temptation and…
The Most Powerful (and Underrated) Force in The World
Sep 3, 2019 • 3 min
Marcus Aurelius, on nearly a dozen occasions in Meditations, speaks of reaching or achieving “stillness.” Most beautifully, he writes of trying to be “like the rock that the waves keep crashing over,” the one that “stands unmoved and the raging of the…
What is Required of You
Sep 2, 2019 • 4 min
Marcus Aurelius was an incredibly lucky man. He was born a Roman and he was born a man in a time where to be anything other than a man or a Roman citizen was a position of extreme powerlessness. He was also born to a wealthy family who provided him the…
Heaven Beside You…Hell Within
Aug 30, 2019 • 3 min
It’s late summer now and you might be thinking it’s time to squeeze in a last minute vacation. Or maybe you’ve been looking forward to a long-planned one to some distant location. This is just what I need, you’re thinking. I can’t wait to get out there…
Where is The Courage?
Aug 29, 2019 • 2 min
These are times of increasing political extremism. They are also times of corruption and rising inequality. Enormous, alarming trends are sweeping through culture, government, and the economy. In some sense this is new, but in other ways it’s a story as…
It’s Easy To be Sad
Aug 28, 2019 • 2 min
In his new book, Comedy Sex God (as well as on his wonderful podcast and on his HBO show) the comedian Pete Holmes talks about the aftermath of the dissolution of his marriage. After his wife cheated on him and their subsequent divorce, he was hit with…
Forgiveness Isn’t Easy, But It’s Essential
Aug 27, 2019 • 3 min
The great C.S Lewis observed that we all find forgiveness to be a lovely idea…right up until we have someone to forgive. It’s true. Forgiveness is one of those virtues that’s easy to talk about, but incredibly hard to practice. Particularly when we…
Don’t Forget To Go Home
Aug 26, 2019 • 3 min
The busier we get, the more we work, even the more that we learn and read, the further we tend to drift from our center. We get in a rhythm. We’re making money, being creative, we’re stimulated and busy. It seems like everything is going well. But if…
It’s About What You Do (And Don’t Do)
Aug 23, 2019 • 2 min
“If it is not right, do not do it,” Marcus Aurelius wrote, “if it is not true, do not say it.” But it’s worth pointing out that as a philosophy, Stoicism demands more of us than just this negative. As Marcus would also point out, “Often injustice lies…
Look With Both Eyes
Aug 22, 2019 • 3 min
One way to look at an iconic or important landmark like the White House is with reverence. This is the seat of a global power. This is where Kennedy stared down the Cuban Missile Crisis. It represents freedom, justice, and the pursuit of happiness….
But What If We’re Wrong?
Aug 21, 2019 • 3 min
In several of Seneca’s letters he speaks about the power of bloodletting as a medical practice. In one, he actually remarks—with some superiority—how earlier generations had not yet discovered bloodletting and suffered for it. Marcus Aurelius hints at…
What Kind of Ambition To Have
Aug 20, 2019 • 2 min
There are different kinds of ambition. There was, on one end of the spectrum, the ambition of someone like Abraham Lincoln. This was the ambition that taught him to read, that braved the wild Mississippi River, that learned the law, that worked his way…
Be Aware, But Not Troubled
Aug 19, 2019 • 3 min
There is a balance to Stoicism between awareness and anxiety. The Stoics want you to be prepared for an uncertain—and oftentimes dangerous—future, but somehow not worry about it at the same time. They want you to consider all the possibilities…and not…
This Is The Secret To Wealth
Aug 16, 2019 • 3 min
What is wealth? It’s having plenty, right? The variables in the equation are pretty simple. What you have, what you’ve got coming in, and what’s going out. If those are in proper proportion to each other, you’re covered. Except what we tend to miss in…
Be Obsessed With Living
Aug 15, 2019 • 3 min
There is a morbid theme running through the music of Johnny Cash. His deep, haunting voice is rarely far from a lyric about death or murder or loss or grief. He has songs about soldiers killed in Vietnam, songs about dying cowboys on the streets of…
If You Were Tried, Would You Be Convicted?
Aug 14, 2019 • 3 min
One of the undeniable realities of the history of religion is persecution. The Christians have been persecuted. So have the Jews, the Muslims, the Hindus, the Mormons, even the Buddhists and Confucians. In some cases, these religions persecuted each…
What Will You Do Next?
Aug 13, 2019 • 2 min
The Stoics believed that stressful and dangerous situations unfold like this: Something happens—we wake up to reports that the stock market has taken a dive, we get screamed at by our boss, the doctor raises an eyebrow and recommends we go in for…
You Don’t Need Credit
Aug 12, 2019 • 3 min
Perhaps you remember reading The Odyssey in high school or college (or possibly you picked up Emily Wilson’s fabulous new translation). Even if you haven’t, you’re probably familiar with the cyclops scene. Odysseus and his men find themselves trapped in…
We All Must Go Into The Wilderness
Aug 9, 2019 • 3 min
Seneca was exiled once in AD 41 and then again from Nero’s service at the end of his career. Epictetus was exiled in Nicopolis, Greece by the Emperor Domitian. Publius Rutilius Rufus, the Roman tax official who was convicted on false charges, was exiled…
Be A Generalist
Aug 8, 2019 • 3 min
If you look at any of the great Stoics, you’ll notice that philosophy was just one of their many diverse interests. Seneca was a philosopher and a playwright and a political advisor. Marcus Aurelius was dabbling in philosophy…as he had the most…
How Not To Be Angry
Aug 7, 2019 • 2 min
One gets the sense that Seneca, like many smart and active people, was often frustrated by other people. It is inevitable that someone like him—someone creating art, actively participating in government, managing properties, etc—would have regularly…
What Do You Gain By Worrying?
Aug 5, 2019 • 2 min
When did Jesus deliver his famous Sermon on the Mount? We don’t know. But we know that Seneca and Jesus were born at roughly the same time and were part of the same massive empire. As far distant as the Mount of Beatitudes was from Rome, the men were…
Winning The Ultimate Victory
Aug 2, 2019 • 3 min
There is a tradition in Stoicism that few notice, but is possibly one of the most inspiring and chilling parts of the entire philosophy. There’s no real polite way to describe it other than “badass last words.”Seneca tells the story of Julius Canus, a…
Try The Opposite Remedy
Aug 1, 2019 • 2 min
In his essay Of Clemency, Seneca tells a story of a time Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire, had his temper severely tested. Augustus receives intelligence that a man named Lucius Cinna was conspiring against him. Augustus summoned a…
Be Careful About Who You Want To Impress
Jul 31, 2019 • 3 min
When you listen to people talk about choices they regret, whether it was working for the guy who put on Fyre Fest or joining a gang or a cult, it’s remarkable how much it comes down to wanting to impress someone. Not their friends, not other people, but…
We’re Lucky Not To Get What We Want
Jul 30, 2019 • 2 min
There’s an old joke: When the Gods wish to punish us, they give us everything we’ve ever wanted. Look at most people who win the lottery. Look at most famous people. Look at most world leaders. To borrow an expression from one particularly unhappy world…
What To Take From All This
Jul 29, 2019 • 3 min
Very few people, if they’re being honest, would want their kids to grow up to be like Donald Trump. And that includes the folks who had perfectly good reasons for voting for him and hope he will be a successful Republican president. Donald Trump is…
Spare Time Is Not Enough Pt II
Jul 26, 2019 • 3 min
The great Athenian statesman Pericles once explained to his people that being a great naval power was not some hobby. It was the key to their survival. “Seamanship is an art,” he said, “just like anything else, and you cannot merely practice it ‘on the…
Good or Evil…The Choice Is Yours
Jul 25, 2019 • 3 min
The Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck thought the tug between good and evil was a necessary contradiction of human nature. There is no better demonstration of his world view than East of Eden. As Steinbeck wrote to a friend, “I finished my book…
There’s No Excuse For Being Surprised
Jul 24, 2019 • 3 min
Fabius was one of Ancient Rome’s great generals, though he was not the bold, reckless type that usually gets all the attention in history books. No, he was the cautious type. He was strategic and reserved. He preferred to let enemies defeat themselves…
Haven’t You Done That Before?
Jul 23, 2019 • 2 min
It is certainly true that people can do some awful things to each other. We hear of a trusted representative who is stealing from their clients. We hear of a man who has been leading a second life, even starting a second family. We hear of a woman who…
What Do You Look Like Angry?
Jul 22, 2019 • 2 min
Getting angry is not a good look. We know this because we see how ugly other people look when they get mad. How childish they seem. How pathetic their gesticulations look, how badly they seem to need our attention. We see how much it undermines their…
You’re Not That Important
Jul 19, 2019 • 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. It ran the whole race twice! For a few seconds there during its first go-round, it was a real contender in the race. It’s…
This Is Universal
Jul 18, 2019 • 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. It…
Are You Self-Aware?
Jul 17, 2019 • 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 rather, blue-dressed—philandering in the…
Nothing Wrong With Nice Stuff
Jul 16, 2019 • 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 his hypocrisy. How can a Stoic have expensive ivory tables? Isn’t it unphilosophical to have multiple houses? Or servants?In…
These Things Have No Power Over You
Jul 15, 2019 • 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 have to contend…
Does Greatness Require Ego?
Jul 12, 2019 • 3 min
While we all hold up humility as an admirable trait, we’re not always sure it can get us to the goals we aspire to. We look at a Kanye West or a Donald Trump or a Steve Jobs and think: sure that person’s an egomaniac, but ego was clearly critical to…
We Must Increase What We Have Been Given
Jul 11, 2019 • 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 most able, doubled his five talents into ten. The second was given two and used it…
Assume Everyone Is Lying
Jul 10, 2019 • 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 similarly…
Pity The Ego
Jul 9, 2019 • 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 be corrupted…
Just A Few Seconds Of Courage
Jul 8, 2019 • 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. But in one scene—immortalized by Matt Damon in the…
Are You Ready To Be Challenged?
Jul 5, 2019 • 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, is what it’s called….
Freedom Isn’t Free
Jul 4, 2019 • 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 Fourth of…
Do Less
Jul 3, 2019 • 3 min
Unlike so many of the other philosophical schools, the Stoics were doers. The Epicureans might have been content to play in their gardens and the Cynics might have believed that most of the obligations of society were a scam, but the Stoics were…
Who The True Stoics Were
Jul 2, 2019 • 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 mention Zeno or Cleanthes or Chrysippus. What do all those people have in common? They…
Real Power Can’t Be Taken Away
Jul 1, 2019 • 3 min
Twice, Seneca was exiled. Twice, he basically lost everything. Money. Access. Influence. It all went away, like *that.* How did he handle it? The first time, not so well. We can read the thou-dost-protest-too-much letter he wrote to his mother…and we…
You Have To Take Care of Yourself
Jun 28, 2019 • 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, 2019 • 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…
What Do You Live By?
Jun 26, 2019 • 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, Langston Hughes, and William Faulkner. He…
Never Attribute To Malice…
Jun 25, 2019 • 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 instinct is…
Break Out and Break Free
Jun 24, 2019 • 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 other…
It’s About The Paring Down
Jun 21, 2019 • 2 min
Really what the Stoics were trying to do is pare down what they had to worry about. That’s why Epictetus said our first job was just to determine what was in our control and what isn’t—because that eliminates an enormous chunk of concern from our…
Practice These Virtues
Jun 20, 2019 • 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 moments when they matter…
You Must Think It
Jun 19, 2019 • 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 both cases, the news they are faced with—the conclusion they are being asked to accept—is simply too…
Do You Want To Be Less Angry?
Jun 18, 2019 • 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, 2019 • 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 into the future (she prophesied the fall of Troy and the…
It’s OK To Struggle
Jun 14, 2019 • 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 to experience…
It Doesn’t Matter What You Do, It Matters How You Do It
Jun 13, 2019 • 2 min
The occupations of the three most well-known Stoics could not be more different. Seneca was a playwright, a wealthy landowner, and a political advisor. Epictetus was a former slave who became a philosophy teacher. Marcus Aurelius would have loved to be…
Never Abandon Your Ideals
Jun 12, 2019 • 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 are reminded of the humanity of every…
Why It’s Important To Be Healthy
Jun 11, 2019 • 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 of Marcus Aurelius and one of the quietly great Roman Emperors, kept a simple diet so he could work from dawn…
How To Think About Obstacles
Jun 10, 2019 • 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 can train ourselves—to see it…
When You Need Help…
Jun 7, 2019 • 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 to…
What The Simple Life Is
Jun 6, 2019 • 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 in ours, there was a type of person who, in reading about the Diogenes types or the tough Stoic types, thought that philosophy…
The Earth Is Big And Has Room For Everyone
Jun 5, 2019 • 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, is speaking with King Alcinous, and telling him of his deeds in the Trojan war. Alcinous remarks…
Good Stuff Comes Out Of Bad Circumstances
Jun 4, 2019 • 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…
An Easy Source of Encouragement
Jun 3, 2019 • 2 min
Why did Marcus Aurelius write his Meditations? It wasn’t for an audience. It wasn’t simply to practice his Greek or his rhetorical abilities—he was already good at all those things. The book lacks an author’s note and he never seemed to have told anyone…
Stop Wasting Time on Trivialities
May 31, 2019 • 2 min
In his twenty-third letter to Lucilius, Seneca opens with some meta snark that is relatable to anyone who has ever been trapped in a banal conversation at a boring cocktail party. “You were probably thinking I was going to open this letter with idle…
The Best Technology Ever Invented
May 30, 2019 • 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, 2019 • 2 min
We know that Marcus Aurelius cried when he was told that his favorite tutor passed away. We know that he cried that day in court, when he was overseeing a case and the attorney mentioned the countless souls who perished in the plague that had ravaged…
What Do You Have To Draw On?
May 28, 2019 • 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 is…
Things Don’t Make The Man
May 27, 2019 • 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 have a knack for…
It’s Not As Unfortunate As It Seems
May 24, 2019 • 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 fortunate when you…
The Road To Ladies and Gentlemen Again
May 23, 2019 • 2 min
Two years ago, the world lost a great scholar and Stoic philosopher, Peter Lawler. Peter, a longtime writer for National Review and political science professor at Berry College, was the kind of person interested in those seemingly archaic notions of…
You’ll Be Happier If You’re Realistic
May 22, 2019 • 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, 2019 • 2 min
A few years ago a study by Brad Bushman at Ohio State University found a link between low blood sugar and arguments between spouses. It pretty much confirms the experiences of anyone who has ever been in a relationship and found themselves fighting…
Make It Happen. Whatever It Takes.
May 20, 2019 • 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 pilot,…
Don’t Let Yourself Be Rushed
May 17, 2019 • 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 made it up the the beginning of the…
Find The Space
May 16, 2019 • 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 had given…
How To Overcome Selfishness
May 15, 2019 • 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…
The Only Measure of Success
May 14, 2019 • 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…
Look For Teachable Moments
May 13, 2019 • 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 Wright, having made controversial statements about the government and terrorist…
If It’s Right, It’s Right For You
May 10, 2019 • 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’s…
You Decide The End of The Story
May 9, 2019 • 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 he…
The First and Most Important Victory
May 8, 2019 • 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 frustrations…
Who To Be Friends With?
May 7, 2019 • 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 at a dinner party (in fact, he was known for his legendary parties with hundreds of guests). Whereas almost…
Don’t Sell Out
May 6, 2019 • 2 min
In his Discourses, Epictetus asks a probing question: “Your respect, trustworthiness and steadiness, peace of mind, freedom from pain and fear, in a word your freedom. For what would you sell these things?”The answer, too often, is “for pennies on the…
Be Sure To Love Them While You Still Can
May 3, 2019 • 4 min
In one of the darkest passages in all of Stoic thought, Epictetus discusses the prospect of putting your child to bed and saying goodbye to them in your mind as you do so because it may be the last time you get the chance. It’s an image that is hard to…
Do Your Duty, Every Day, Everywhere
May 2, 2019 • 2 min
The French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy was recently interviewed by the New York Times about his grueling travel schedule, which will include 22 cities this year. This passage of the interview is worth highlighting: Q: When you travel, do you read,…
You’ll Never Get To Perfect
May 1, 2019 • 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 disappointed by that, Harrison walked over and consoled…
You Can Admit You Were Wrong
Apr 30, 2019 • 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 learning they were…
Make Beautiful Choices
Apr 29, 2019 • 2 min
Epictetus says that “if your choices are beautiful, so too will you be.” It’s simple and it’s true. You are what your choices make you, nothing more and nothing less. Today will present you with plenty of opportunities to choose between—to choose beauty…
Do This For Your Future Self
Apr 26, 2019 • 3 min
The musician, producer, circus performer, entrepreneur, TED speaker, and author, Derek Sivers, recently wrote an article that began, “You know those people whose lives are transformed by meditation or yoga or something like that? For me, it’s writing in…
Always Think Of Their Intentions
Apr 25, 2019 • 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 them…
Difficulty Is Forging Us Into Who We Need To Be
Apr 24, 2019 • 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 unlikely to happen….
We All Share This Thing Together
Apr 23, 2019 • 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 of…
When You’re Having A Bad Day
Apr 22, 2019 • 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 your…
The Race To Run Is Against Yourself
Apr 19, 2019 • 3 min
It can be deceiving to hear the Stoics talk about an indifference to external recognition or rewards. Marcus says that fame is meaningless. Seneca talks about how success or wealth is out of our control and therefore not to be prized. Don’t want what…
Look For The Good
Apr 18, 2019 • 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. It…
Don’t Worry About Being Respected
Apr 17, 2019 • 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 the difference…
No Room For “Them”
Apr 16, 2019 • 3 min
“They” hold up very poorly in Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that Marcus holds up very poorly when “they” come up. Who is “they?” They are the people the Romans referred to as barbarians—the people who lived outside…
How To Bounce Back
Apr 15, 2019 • 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, 2019 • 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 vanity…
Freedom To or Freedom From?
Apr 11, 2019 • 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 freedom from…
All That Matters Is How We Respond
Apr 9, 2019 • 2 min
It was the great Athenian leader, Pericles, who said that there was nothing wrong with poverty. It could be caused by so many things—a business failure, the sudden loss of a family’s breadwinner, theft, even just plain old back luck. Like the Stoics, he…
Do You Want To Be Less Angry?
Apr 8, 2019 • 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 death, How to Die: An Ancient Guide to the End of…
What Goes Up, Must Come Down
Apr 5, 2019 • 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 a…
Do Better Where You Can
Apr 4, 2019 • 2 min
When we look at the lives of a great man like Marcus Aurelius or a great woman like the Catholic activist Dorothy Day, it’s easy to be intimidated. They seemed to always know what to do and seemed to always do it regardless of the stakes. It’s easy to…
You Are Here On The Mountaintop
Apr 3, 2019 • 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 may have left. On the contrary, it’s supposed to free you. It’s supposed to inspire you. It’s supposed to give you that empowered, grateful, selfless,…
It’s Just The Glasses
Apr 2, 2019 • 3 min
In his wonderful new book How To Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, cognitive-behavioral psychotherapist, historian, and Stoic Donald Robertson charts the fascinating development of Marcus as a person over the course of…
All Things Can Be Used for a Purpose
Apr 1, 2019 • 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 mixes in…
Friendship Makes Life Worth Living
Mar 29, 2019 • 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 moving example of the power of connection, how one of the greatest basketball players…
Do Not Be Afraid
Mar 28, 2019 • 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 with…
Know It Inside And Out
Mar 27, 2019 • 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, 2019 • 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, Thanks A Thousand, he went on a quest to…
We Are All Tested In Different Ways
Mar 25, 2019 • 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 with….
It Smells Like…Life
Mar 22, 2019 • 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 possibly be the…
Are You Tired Trying To Fill That Void?
Mar 21, 2019 • 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 allows us to…
Do Your Best
Mar 20, 2019 • 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 The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. She also…
Beware the Voice in Your Head
Mar 19, 2019 • 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 talking to myself,” the man replied. “Be careful,” Crates told him, “for you are…
What It Really Means To Be A Slave
Mar 18, 2019 • 3 min
Epictetus was born a slave. Quite literally, his name means, in Greek, acquired. Ultimately, he came to be the property of a man named Epaphroditus, who kept Epictetus chained up long enough that he became disabled by it and walked with a limp for the…
The Most Important Thing: Realizing That We Are All One
Mar 15, 2019 • 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 competition any more…
Zoom Out…And Laugh
Mar 14, 2019 • 2 min
The way to make all your problems, even the really vexing and painful ones, seem less severe? It comes from Seneca. All you have to do, he says, is:“Draw further back and laugh.”When you zoom out far enough, almost everything becomes absurd. Think about…
Why You Should Read Biographies
Mar 13, 2019 • 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 Robert Caros and Stacy Schiffs of the world. And Alban Butler’s The Lives of the Saints? Or Plutarch? Who has time to…
What Does It Feel Like To Lose All Your Money?
Mar 12, 2019 • 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 of…
Always, Ever The Same
Mar 11, 2019 • 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 was at a Roman bath with his father. One of the…
Take What’s Good, Ignore The Rest
Mar 8, 2019 • 4 min
One of Seneca’s most powerful strategies comes from his time as a Senator. Speaking again of a thought from Epicurus, with which he only partly agrees, Seneca explains that he is so readily able to draw from the teachings of a rival school for his…
Now Is Now
Mar 7, 2019 • 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 knitting in a rocking chair. “She thought to…
Find A Good Outlet For Your Passions
Mar 6, 2019 • 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, infatuation, anger. These were powerful forces that, if left unchecked, were likely to…
Is Ego A Virtue?
Mar 5, 2019 • 3 min
In 2017, Good Morning Britain anchor Susanna Reid presented her co-anchor (actually she calls him her TV husband), Piers Morgan, a gift. It was a copy of the book Ego is the Enemy. She thought he could use the book because Piers was “irritating,…
It’s Good That Things Have Been Hard
Mar 4, 2019 • 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 stuff we expected to…
It’s Time: The Daily Stoic 10-Day Spring Forward Challenge
Mar 1, 2019 • 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, 2019 • 2 min
As we’ve written about before, one of the most surprising parts of Seneca’s writing is how that avowed Stoic quotes Epicurus, the founder of Epicureanism. Even Seneca knew this was strange as each time he did so in his famous Letters, he felt obliged to…
How To Get Better (and Live a Great Life)
Feb 27, 2019 • 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 preconceptions about…
The Three Hardest Things To Do In Life
Feb 26, 2019 • 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. They are, he said, in this…
What Not To Do With Your Freedom
Feb 25, 2019 • 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 proponents of this movement have adopted some important Stoic principles. They believe that life is unpredictable…
How A Stoic Thinks About Sex
Feb 22, 2019 • 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 what…
Do Less, Better
Feb 21, 2019 • 1 min
Here’s the simple recipe for improvement and for happiness. It comes from Marcus Aurelius and the fact that it came from such a busy man with so many obligations and responsibilities should not be forgotten. “If you seek tranquillity,” he said, “do…
Speak The Truth, Let Them Howl
Feb 20, 2019 • 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….
The One Thing To Be A Slave To
Feb 19, 2019 • 2 min
Slavery is one of the most common metaphors in Seneca’s writing. He talks about people who are slaves to sex and slaves to work. He talks about people who are slaves to their anxiety. He even mentions-—without much self-awareness for such a generally…
This Is What Progress Looks Like
Feb 18, 2019 • 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. When he was writing his famous letters, he meditated on this theme. What does getting…
This Is How To Go Out
Feb 15, 2019 • 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 kill…
It Can Happen To You
Feb 14, 2019 • 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 always a variety of…
Escape This Indelible Stain
Feb 13, 2019 • 4 min
In Meditations, Marcus speaks passionately about escaping the “indelible stain” of power, of being changed by the purple cloak that the emperor traditionally wore. It is a timeless warning for anyone in a position of authority or acclaim: Be careful…
An Important Reminder To Do The Right Thing
Feb 12, 2019 • 3 min
Our newest Daily Stoic coinSummum Bonum is an expression from Cicero, Rome’s greatest orator. In Latin, it means “the highest good.” And what is the highest good? What is it that we are supposed to be aiming for in this life?To the Stoics, the answer is…
What Will You Do Now?
Feb 11, 2019 • 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…
YOU Are Not The Problem
Feb 8, 2019 • 2 min
Epictetus’s most powerful line is about how it’s not things that upset us, but what we think about things that does all the damage. What he really meant is that our sense of what an obstacle or a disadvantage or a trial is—our subjective…
How Do You Fill The Void?
Feb 7, 2019 • 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 time…
Avoid Owing (and Being Owned)
Feb 6, 2019 • 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 then he put that money to work in Rome’s British colonies. In fact, he made so many enormous loans to colonists in Britain, that…
When You Should Give Up
Feb 5, 2019 • 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…
All This In A Nutshell
Feb 4, 2019 • 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, he…
Out of Many, One
Feb 1, 2019 • 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 them into a unified,…
Success or Failure—Neither Reflect On You
Jan 31, 2019 • 3 min
Just a few weeks ago, the writer Austin Murphy wrote an insightful, revealing article for The Atlantic that personalized the changing nature of the economic and technological landscape in the 21st century western world. Murphy is one of the most…
When Something Breaks
Jan 30, 2019 • 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 something else….
Closing Your Eyes Is Not An Excuse
Jan 29, 2019 • 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 willful and cowardly ignorance. As he replies…
The One (or Two) Words To Live By
Jan 28, 2019 • 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.”This is…
How To Make Better Decisions in Life
Jan 25, 2019 • 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. What is it?Stop…
Don’t Limit Yourself
Jan 24, 2019 • 3 min
Epicurus’s dictum was that “One sage is no wiser than another.” Clearly, Seneca agreed with this idea because he loved quoting Epicurus, even though he belonged to a rival school. His famous line was that he’d quote even a bad author if the line was…
If You Were Tested, Would You Pass?
Jan 23, 2019 • 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…
We Are What We Think About
Jan 22, 2019 • 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 The Secret had to reduce the price of her home…
What Other People Get Away With Is Not An Excuse
Jan 21, 2019 • 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, and…
We Must Live By This Rule
Jan 18, 2019 • 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, for…
When Are You Going To Be Free?
Jan 17, 2019 • 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 big…
How To Respond To Crazy People
Jan 16, 2019 • 2 min
One suspects Marcus Aurelius was referring to a particularly frustrating person, some opponent who just would not, or could not, get the message, when he wrote:“You can hold your breath until you’re blue in the face and they’ll just go on doing…
Don’t Be Distracted By Darkness
Jan 15, 2019 • 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 to miss. It’s easy to despair about this. What do we do? Must it be…
The Civil War Inside Each One Of Us
Jan 14, 2019 • 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), there…
This Is What Karma Looks Like
Jan 11, 2019 • 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 on…
The Great Equalizer
Jan 10, 2019 • 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 commentary on how easily fake news spreads but it’s…
If It’s Not Simple, It’s Bullshit
Jan 9, 2019 • 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: Epictetus: “It’s not things that upset us, it’s our judgement…
Find A Point!
Jan 8, 2019 • 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 terminal diagnosis, his wife, Laura, orders Peter…
The Habit You Must Start This Year
Jan 7, 2019 • 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 would have been mortified to know how well the book has been received…because it meant the…
The One Thing You Must Avoid
Jan 4, 2019 • 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…
Do The Little Thing, It’s All The Matters
Jan 3, 2019 • 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 dissidents come and ask Tomas, her husband, to sign a…
It’s Not How Long You Live, It’s How You Live
Jan 2, 2019 • 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…
Keep These Thoughts At Hand, Everyday
Jan 1, 2019 • 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 Enchiridion, actually means “small thing in hand,” or handbook. Seneca, for his part,…
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 in eternity.” It’s a powerful, inspiring line, (also tattooed on Lebron James’s arm) one the average viewer might assume that Marcus Aurelius…
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 going…
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), Marcus Aurelius was musing on it….
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 how Robert squares his interest in Stoicism…
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 kindness,…
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 we were younger,…
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 Clinton….
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 Superbowl MVP…
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 these people…
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 working? The journey to becoming a “sage” is one that…
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. Think…
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 fragile are your views that…
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—too…
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 each other. The line…
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 is. Robert…
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, a work of…
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 account. When confronted with the remarks, the senator immediately and directly…
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!Ernest…
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 the most successful podcasts in the world. But…
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. In fact, most people…
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? Here’s a photo of Jamal Khashoggi’s son, whose father was brutally executed mere days before, being forced to…
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 people get power,…
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 outside our control. Some people have taken this to mean that the Stoics were resigned to their fate—that they were willing to tolerate the status…
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. “Meditate often,” he writes, “on the interconnectedness and mutual interdependence of all things in the universe.” He is speaking of the Stoic concept…
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 the inevitability of death should be continually on our minds….
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 single master whom he revered above them all, and that was…
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 Winston…
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 is because, he says, Epictetus’s “conversational manner and short sentences suit our modern idiom.”…
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 meditation on a theme of ancient wisdom which provides insights for self-improvement. In a June…
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 trouble…
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…
The Most Important Ritual You Can Practice This Year
Nov 14, 2018 • 4 min
Why did Marcus Aurelius spend those precious hours in his tent, writing by the lamplight, even on the nights and mornings he strained under the burdens of his war-time duties? It wasn’t for our benefit. No, he never expected Meditations would see an…
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 evening…
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 encourage your bad…
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 excellence.” Isn’t that the truth? It’s why we admire athletes and Navy SEALS and the Civil Rights Activists of the 1950s and 1960s.To see someone…
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 her wonderful memoir,…
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 great book called Doing Good Better - Effective…
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 other,…
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 normal!” Look…
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, that we actually torture ourselves more than the thing we’re worried about ever could (that is, if…
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 these things. We all have. Yet when other…
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 because…
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 daily national conversation about issues related to hip-hop, race, society, and politics….
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…
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 Seneca. Unfortunately, no one is certain if this rumor has any truth to it. There is no sign that marks the tomb. There is no…
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. As…
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 the culmination of his life’s work to understand why. Why do humans behave…
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 talking about the philosophy of hunting…
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 around the locker room of the New England…
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 the…
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 hard to deny it. His step brother, Lucius Verus, who he elevated to co-emperor, was a ne’er-do-well who never proved himself worthy of…
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, Kolyma…
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, shortsighted. We are mean, we are…
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 imagine…
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 an Ivy League education. Rather, he…
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, creating…
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, Seneca marvelled at the terrible things people do to stay alive—things much worse than death….
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…
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…
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…
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,…
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’re…
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…
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…
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 painful…
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…
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…
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 loved…
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…
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…
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 could…
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…
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…
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,…
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 all…
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…
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…