The Daily Stoic - Deepstash

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Pragmatic and Principled - Day 1

Pragmatic and Principled - Day 1

Wherever a person can live, there one can also live well;

  • Abraham Lincoln is the most renowned politician of his time. Even at a profession like that, he was able to be compassionate, humble, open-minded and purposeful.
  • Principles and pragmatism are not at odds. Whether you live in the white house or in a jail or in a closed-minded small town, you can live well if you choose to. Plenty of other have! It's your principles that govern your way of life.

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Start where the world is - Day 2

Start where the world is - Day 2

Do now what nature demands of you. Get right to it if that's in your power. Don't wait for the perfect timing.

  • There is plenty that you could do right now, today, plenty of small steps, were you to take them, would help move things forward.
  • Don't excuse yourself from doing them because the conditions aren't right or because a better opportunity might come along soon. Do what you can, now!
  • And when you've done it, don't overblow the results and always keep it in perspective. Shun both excuse and ego, before and after.

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Stick with just the facts - Day 3

Stick with just the facts - Day 3

Don't tell yourself anything more than what the initial impressions report.

  • It's been reported to you that someone is speaking badly about you. This is the report - the report wasn't that you've been harmed. I see that my son is sick - but not that his life is at risk.
  • So always stay within your first impressions, and don't add to them in your head - this way nothing can happen to you.
  • As Nietzsche put it, "to stop courageously at the surface" and see things in plain objective form.

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Perfection is the enemy of Action - Day 4

Perfection is the enemy of Action - Day 4

We don't abandon our pursuits because we dispair of ever perfecting them.

  • Psychologists speak of cognitive distortions - exaggerated thoughts which include
  1. If you're not with me, you're against me.
  2. Because this wasn't a complete success, it is a total failure
  • This sort of extreme thinking is associated with depression and frustration. Perfection rarely begets perfection - only disappointment.
  • We're never going to be perfect. We're human after all. Our pursuits should be aimed at progress, however little that it's possible for us to make.

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No Time For Theories, just Results - Day 5

No Time For Theories, just Results - Day 5

When the problem arose for us whether habit or theory was better for getting virtue - Musonius thought habit to be more effective.

  • There is no time to chop logic over whether our theories are correct. We are dealing with the real world here. What matters is how you're going to deal with this situation right in front of you and whether you're going to able to move past it.
  • Although theories are clean and simple, situations rarely are!

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Make the Words Your Own - Day - 6

How can people prove their words to be their own - by putting into practice what they've been preaching.

  • There was a lot of borrowing among the philosophers. That's because they weren't concerned with authorship. More important, they believed that what was said mattered less than what was done.
  • You're welcome to take all of the words, feel free to tweak and edit and improve. Adapt them to the real conditions and put them into practice. Speak with your actions more than anything else.

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Take Charge and End Your Troubles - Day 7

You've endured countless troubles - it's enough already!

  • How many things you fear have actually come to pass? How many times had anxiety, jealousy or frustration lead you down a bad road?
  • Letting our reason rule the day might seem like more work, but it saves us quite a bit of trouble. Your brain was designed to do this work - to separate what is important from what is senseless, to keep things in perspective. You only need to put it to use.

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This Isn't For Fun; It's For Life - Day 8

  • Philosophy isn't a parlor trick or made for show. It's concerned with facts that shapes and builds up the soul, gives order to life, guides action, shows what should and shouldn't be done - it sits at the rudder steering our course as we cruise through uncertainties.
  • The idea of idly discussing some issue - of believing or arguing two contradictory ideas - is an absurd waste of time, energy and belief. Philosophy is not a fun trick. It's for use - for life.

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The Supreme Court Of Your Mind - Day 9

  • This can be swiftly taught in very few words: virtue is the only good; there is no certain good without virtue; and virtue resides in our nobler part.
  • And what this virtue can be? True and steadfast judgement. For from this will arise every mental impulse, and by it every appearance that spurs our impulses will be rendered clear.
  • You become the sum of your actions, and as you do, what flows from that - your impulses - reflect the actions you've taken. Choose wisely!

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Anything can be an advantage - Day 10

  • At 5'-3" tall, Muggsy Bogues was the shortest player to play professional basketball. Against all odds, he succeeded. He saw his height as his strength when others saw it as his weakness. In fact, small size has many advantages: speed and quickness, ability to steal the ball from unsuspecting players, to say nothing of the fact that players just underestimated him.
  • Could this approach not be useful in your life? What things do you think have been holding you back that, in fact, can be a hidden source of strength?

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Take Responsibility For Your Choices - Day 11

  • Today, see if u can go without blaming a single person or thing. Someone messed up your instructions - it's on you for expecting anything different. Your stock portfolio takes a big loss - what did you expect making such a big bet?
  • Whatever it is, however bad it may be, see whether you can make it a whole day laying it all in your reasoned choice.
  • Start where u need to. Even 1 minute without playing the blame game is progress in the art of living.

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Only Fools Rush In! - Day 12

  • A good person is invincible, for they don't rush into contests in which they aren't the strongest. You will never compel what they set out for, nor trap them in what they would avoid. How can such a person not be invincible?
  • Don't try to beat the opponent where they are strongest. That's what we try to do when we are put on the spot. Or we say yes to everything that comes our way.
  • Discretion is the better part of valour. Think hard before choosing, and make yourself unbeatable.

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Confining The Unnecessary - Day 13

  • Since the vast majority of our words & actions are unnecessary, confining them will create an abundance of leisure & tranquility. We must also confine unnecessary thoughts, too, so needless acts don't tag along after them.
  • What vanity obligates us to do, what greed signs us up for, what ill discipline adds to our plate, what a lack of courage prevents us from saying no to. All of this we must cut, cut, cut.

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Where It Counts - Day 14

Inwardly, we ought to be different in every respect, but our outward appearance should blend in with the crowd.

  • Diogenes the cynic was a controversial philosopher who wandered the streets like a homeless person. It's tempting to take philosophy to the extremes, but who does it serve?
  • Outward transformation - in our clothes, cars and in our grooming - might feel important but it's superficial compared with the inward change. That's the change that only we know about!

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Don't Be Miserable In Advance - Day 15

  • The way we nervously worry about some looming bad news is strange. By definition, the waiting means it hasn't happened yet so that feeling bad in advance is totally voluntary.
  • The pragmatist, is too busy to waste time on such silliness. Think about it. Best case scenario - if the news turns out better than expected, all this time wasted in fear. Worst case scenario - we were miserable for extra time, by choice.
  • Let the news come in when it does. Be too busy working to care.

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Don't Sweat The Small Stuff - Day 16

  • It is essential for you to remember that the attention you give to any action should be in due proportion to it's worth, for then you won't tire and give up.
  • If you give things more time and energy than they deserve, they're no longer lesser things. You've made them important by the life you've spent on them.
  • And sadly, you've made the important things - your family, your health, your true commitments - less so as a result of what you've stolen from them.

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It's In Your Self-Interest - Day 17

  • It's most easy to prove that so-called pleasures, when they go beyond proper measure, are but punishments.
  • Stoics don't say, "Stop doing this, it's a sin." Instead they say, "Don't do this because it will make you miserable. They don't say," Pleasure isn't pleasurable." They say," Endless pleasure becomes it's own form of punishment."
  • Its not that this or that is bad, it's that it is in their best interest to do it in a different way.

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Learn From All Sources - Day 18

"I'll never be ashamed to quote a bad writer with good saying." - Seneca

  • Seneca was looking for wisdom, period. It didn't matter where it came from. This is something a lot of people seem to miss. Who cares whether some bit of wisdom is from a stoic, epicurean or anyone? What matters is whether it makes your life better.
  • What wisdom or help would you be able to find today if you stopped caring about affiliations and reputations? How much more could you see if you just focused on merit?

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Respect The Past, But Be Open To The Future - Day 19

  • Won't you be walking in your predecessor's footsteps? The ones who pioneered these paths aren't our masters, but our guides.
  • Traditions are often time-tested best practices for doing something. But remember, today's conservative ideas were once controversial.
  • Perhaps we have a breakthrough of our own. If these ideas are true and better, embrace them - use them. You don't need to be a prisoner of dead old men who stopped learning two thousand years ago!

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Seeking Out Shipwrecks - Day 20

  • I was shipwrecked before I even boarded... the journey showed me this - how much of what we have is unnecessary, and how easily we can decide to rid ourselves of these things whenever it's necessary, never suffering the loss. - Seneca
  • The stoics weren't being hypothetical when they said we ought to ACT with a reverse clause and that even the most unfortunate events can turn out to be for the best. The entire philosophy is founded on that idea!

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Laugh, Or Cry? - Day 21

  • Heraclitus would shed tears whenever he went out in public - Democritus laughed. One saw the whole as a paradise of miseries, the other of follies. And so, we should take a lighter view of things and bear them with an easy spirit, for it is more human to laugh at life than to lament it.
  • Like Democritus, we can make that same choice. There is more humor than hate to be found in just about every situation. And at least humor is productive - making things less heavy, not more so.

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The Opulent Stoic - Day 22

  • The founder of the universe, who assigned us to the laws of life, provided that we should live well, but not in luxury. Everything needed for our well-being is right before us, whereas what luxuries requires is gathered by many miseries and anxieties. This is the pragmatic instead of the moralistic approach to wealth.
  • There is no rule that says financial success must mean that you live beyond your means. Remember: humans can be happy with very little.

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Want Nothing =Have Everything - Day 23

  • No person has the power to have everything they want, but it is in their power not to want what they don't have, and to cheerfully put to good use what they do have.
  • John D. Rockefeller believed that "a man's wealth must be determined by the relation of his desires and expenditures to his income. If he feels rich on $10 and has everything he desires, he really is rich."
  • Today, you could try to increase your wealth, or you could take a shortcut and just want less.

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When You Feel Lazy - Day 24

If you start something and right away feel yourself getting lazy and irritated, first ask yourself: Why am I doing this? If it really is a necessity, ask yourself: Whats behind my reluctance? Fear? Spite? Fatigue?

Don't forge ahead hoping that someone will relieve you or someone will explain you why what you're doing matters. Don't be the person who says yes with their mouth but no with their actions. Quality is much better than quantity.

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Consider Your Failings Too - Day 25

No one does wrong on purpose.

  • The clearest proof of that hypothesis? All the time we did wrong without malice or intention. Remember them? The rude behaviour because we haven't spelt in two days. The time you acted on bad information, got carried away, forgot, didn't understand. The list goes on and on.
  • This is why it is important not to brand off people as enemies. Be as forgiving of them as you are of yourself. It may work wonders in your relationships.

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A Strong Soul Is Better Than Good Luck - Day 26

  • Cato the younger had enough money to dress in fine clothing. Yet he often walked around Rome barefoot. He chose this way because he was training his soul to be strong and resilient. He was learning indifference: an attitude of "let come what may" that would serve him well.
  • His training prepared him for any conditions, any kind of luck. If we undergo our own training and preparations, we might find ourselves similarly strengthened.

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The Philosopher's School Is A Hospital - Day 27

  • Have you ever been to physical rehab? It's not a fun place to be. It turns out that healing hurts. The experts know where to exert pressure so that they can strengthen where the patient is weak and help stimulate the areas that have atrophied.
  • Stoic philosophy is a lot like that. Some exercises will touch one of your pressure points. It's nothing personal. It's supposed to hurt. That's how you'll develop the will to endure and persevere through life's many difficulties.

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First, A Hard Winter Training - Day 28

  • "Hard winter training" is the notion that there is no such thing as part-time soldering (or part time anything for that matter). In order to achieve victory, one must dedicate every second into preparation and training.
  • The same is true for us. We can't do this life half heartedly. There's no time off. There aren't even weekends. We are always preparing for what life might throw at us - and when it does, we're ready and don't stop until we've handled it.

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How Can You Know Whether You've Never Been Tested - Day 29

I judge you unfortunate because you have never lived through misfortune. You have passed through life without an opponent - no one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you. - Seneca

  • There's a benefit for so-called misfortune. Having experienced and survived it, we walk away with a better understanding of our own capacity and inner strength.
  • So today if things look like they might take a bad turn, why worry? This might be one of those formative experiences you will be grateful for later.

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Focus On What Is Yours Alone - Day 30

  • Remember, then, if you deem what is by nature slavish to be free, and what is not your own to be yours, you will be shackled and miserable, blaming both gods and other people.
  • But if you deem as your own only what is yours, and what belongs to others as truly not yours, then no one will ever be able to coerce or to stop you, you will find no one to blame or accuse you, you will do nothing against your will, you will have no enemy, no one will harm you, because no harm can affect you.

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They Can Throw You In Chains, But... - Day 31

"You can bind up my leg, but not even Zeus has the power to break my freedom of choice." - Epictetus

  • Great men like Epictetus, Stockdale, McCain etc., where put under chains.
  • None of these men broke. No one could make them sacrifice their principles. That's the thing - someone can throw you in chains, but they don't have the power to change who you are. Even under the worst torture and cruelties that humans can inflict on one another, our power over our own mind and our power to make our own decisions can't be broken - only relinquished.

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Your Hidden Power - Day 32

"Consider who you are. Above all, a human being, carrying no greater power than your own reasoned choice, which oversees all other things, and is free from any other master." - Epictetus

Your hidden power is your ability to use reason and make choices, however limited or small. Think about the areas of your life where you are under duress or weighted down by obligation. What are the choices available to you, day after day? Are you taking advantage? Are you finding the positives?

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Do Not Be Deceived By Fortune - Day 33

"No one is crushed by fortune, unless they are first deceived by her... those who aren't pompous in good times, don't have their bubbles burst with change. Against either circumstance, the stable person keeps their rational soul invincible, for it's precisely in the good times they prove their strength against adversity." - Seneca

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Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself - Day 34

"There is no reason to live and no limit to our miseries if we let our fears predominant." - Seneca

"Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." - Roosevelt

The stoics knew fear was to be feared because of the miseries it creates. A tough situation isn't helped by terror - it only makes things harder. That's why we must resist it and reject it, if we wish to turn this situation around.

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Preparing On The Sunny Day - Day 35

"Here's a lesson to test your mind's mettle: take part of a week in which you have only the most meager and cheap food, and ask yourself if this is really the worst that you feared. It is when times are good that you should gird yourself for tougher times ahead, for when fortune is kind the soul can build defenses against her ravages. So it is that soldiers practice maneuvers in peacetime, erecting bunkers with no enemies in sight and exhausting themselves under no attack so that when it comes they won't grow tired." - Seneca

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What Would Less Look Like? - Day 36

  • At any moment, we may be toppled from our perch and made to do with less - less money, less recognition, less access, less resources. Even the "less-es" that come with age: less mobility, less energy, less freedom. But we can prepare for that, in some way by familiarizing ourselves with what that might feel like.
  • One way to protect yourself from the swings of fate - and from the emotional vertigo that can result - is by living within your means now. So today, we can try to get used to having and surviving on less so that if we are ever forced to have less, it would not be so bad.

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Be Down To Earth, Or Be Brought Down - Day 37

  • People tend to get ahead of themselves, thinking they've got it all figured out and are better than those that don't. It becomes so unpleasant when someone has to drop some knowledge on them.
  • But this is entirely avoidable. If the bubble is never inflated, it won't need to be popped. Overconfidence is a great weakness. But if you are already humble, no one will need to humble you - and the world is much less likely to have nasty surprises in store for you. If you stay down to earth, no one will need to bring you - often times crushingly so - back down.

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Protecting Our Inner Fortress From Fear - Day 38

  • The stoics give us a marvelous concept: the Inner Citadel. It is this fortress, they believed, that protects our soul. Though we might be physically vulnerable, our inner domain is impenetrable.
  • But history teaches us that impenetrable fortress can still be breached, if betrayed from the inside. The citizen inside the walls - if they fall prey to fear or greed - can open the gates and let the enemy in.
  • This is what many of us do when we lose our nerve and give in to fear. You've been granted a strong fortress. Don't betray it.

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A Different Way To Pray - Day 39

Try praying differently, and see what happens: instead of a 'way to get rid of him,' try asking for 'a way to not crave his demise.'

  • Prayer has a religious connotation, but in life we all find ourselves hoping and asking for things.
  • We want divine intervention so that our lives will magically be easier. But what about asking for fortitude and strength so you can do what you need to do? What if you sought clarity on what you do control, what is already within your power? You might find your prayers have already been answered.

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A Garden Is Not For Show - Day 40

  • After all you've read, it night be tempting to think: This stuff is great. I get it. I'm a Stoic. But it's not that easy. Just because you agree with the philosophy doesn't mean the roots have fully taken hold in your mind.
  • Fooling with books so you can sound smart or have an intimidating library is like tending a garden to impress your neighbours. The seeds of Stoicism are long underground. Do the work required to nurture and tend to them. So that they - and you - are prepared and sturdy for the hard winters of life.

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Anyone Can Get Lucky, But Not Everyone Can Persevere - Day 41

  • Anyone can get lucky. There's no skill in being oblivious, and no one would consider that greatness.
  • On the other hand, the person who perseveres through difficulties, who makes it to their destination through hard work and honesty? That's admirable because their survival was a result of fortitude and resilience, not birth right and circumstance.
  • A person who overcame not just the external obstacles to success but mastered themselves and their emotions along the way? That's much more impressive.
  • The person who has been dealt a harder hand, understood it, but still triumphed? That's greatness.

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Dealing With Haters - Day 42

  • When someone has a strong opinion about something, it usually says more about them than whatever or whomever the opinion happens to be. This is especially true when it comes to resentment and hatred of other people.
  • A Stoic does two things. They ask: Is this opinion inside my control? If there is a chance for influence or change, they take it. But if there isn't, they accept this person as they are (and never hate a hater).
  • Our job is tough enough already. We don't have time to think about what other people are thinking, even if it's about us.

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Dealing With Pain - Day 43

  • Whenever you suffer pain, keep in mind that it's nothing to be ashamed of and that it can't degrade your guiding intelligence, nor keep it from acting rationally and for the common good.
  • By the saying of Epicurus, that pain is never unbearable or unending, so you can remember these limits and not add to them in your imagination.
  • Remember too that many common annoyances are pain in disguise, such as sleeplessness, fever and loss of appetite. When they start to get you down, tell yourself you are giving in to pain.

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Flexibility Of The Will - Day 44

  • When you set your mind to a task, do you always follow through? It's good if you do. But don't let yourself become a prisoner of that kind of determination.
  • Conditions change. New facts come in. Circumstances arise. If you can't adapt to them - if you simply proceed forward without adjusting to this new information - you are no better than a robot. The point is not to have an iron will, but an adaptable will.
  • It's not weak to change and adapt. Flexibility is it's own kind of strength. In fact, this flexibility combined with strength is what will make us resilient and unstoppable.

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Life Isn't A Dance - Day 45

  • Dancing is a popular metophor for life. One must go along with the music, feel and follow and flow with the partner. But the fact is nobody ever gets up on stage and tries to tackle a dancer. The dancer never gets choked out by a rival.
  • For a wrestler, on the other hand, adversity and the unexpected are part and parcel of what they do. Their sport is battle, just like life. They are fighting their opponent as well as their own limitations, emotions, etc.
  • Life, like wrestling, requires more than graceful movement. We have to undergo hard training and cultivate an indomitable will to prevail.

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Maintain Composure, Maintain Control - Day 46

  • We're going to get caught off guard from time to time. Not just by a terrorist attack or a financial panic - but also minor, unexpected occurrences. Your car battery dies, you don't feel well suddenly. These situations may throw us into confusion and disarray.
  • That's perfectly OK! It happens. A line of infantry men will face withering attacks. Musicians will experience technical difficulties. It just matters that they get into position as fast as possible.
  • The same is true for you today. The order and peace might be interrupted by a new scenario. Get a hold of yourself and find your way back.

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No Pain, No Gain - Day 47

  • The stoics saw sports as both a fun pastime as well as a training ground to practice for the challenges one will inevitably face in the course of living.
  • Everyone has found themselves outmatched by an opponent, frustrated by some skill that we don't - height, speed, vision, whatever. How we choose to respond says a lot about who we are.
  • Do we see it as a chance to learn and get stronger? Do we get frustrated and complain? Or worse, do we call it off and find an easier game to play, one that makes us feel good instead of challenged?

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The Most Secure Fortress - Day 48

  • The mind freed from passions is an impenetrable fortress - a person has no more secure place of refuge for all time. When we repeat an action so often it becomes unconscious behaviour, we can default to it without thinking.
  • Proper training can change your default habits. Train yourself not to get angry, and you won't be angry for minor reasons often. Train yourself on any habit, and you'll be able to unconsciously go to that habit in trying times.
  • Think about which behavior you'd like to be able to default to if you could. How many of them have you practised only once? Let today be twice.

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It Could Happen To You - Day 49

"Being unexpected adds to the weight of a disaster, and being a surprise has never failed to increase a person's pain. For that reason, nothing should ever be unexpected by us. Our minds should be sent out in advance to all things and we shouldn't just consider the normal course of things, but what could actually happen. For is there anything in life that Fortune won't knock off its high horse if it pleases her?" - Seneca

We must prepare in our minds for the possibility of extreme reversals of fate. The next time you make a charity donation, consider that one day you may need charity yourself.

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The Vulnerability Of Dependence - Day 50

  • We're all addicts in one way or another. We're addicted to our routines, to our coffee, to our comfort, to someone else's approval. These dependencies mean we're not in control of our own lives - the dependency is.
  • Our routines can be disrupted, the doctor can forbid us from drinking coffee, we can be thrust into uncomfortable situations. That is why we must strengthen ourselves by testing these discrepancies before they become too great.
  • Make yourself invulnerable to your dependency on comfort and convenience, or one day your vulnerability might bring you to your knees.

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What Time Off Is For - Day 51

  • You deserve a vacation. You work hard. You sacrifice. You push yourself. It's time for a break. Hop a plane, check into a hotel, and head to the beach - but tuck a book under your arm. Make sure you enjoy your relaxation like a poet - not idly but actively, observing the world around you, better understanding your place in the universe.
  • Maybe your goal is to make enough money so that you can retire early. Good for you! But the purpose of retirement is not to live a life of indolence or to run out the clock, as easy as that might be to do. That is not life. It's not freedom either.

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What Will Prosperity Reveal - Day 52

Robert Caro has written that "power doesn't corrupt, it reveals." In some ways, prosperity - financial and personal - is the same way.

  • If your mind has developed a certain cast - the habit of panicking, then it won't matter how good things get for you. You're still primed for panic. Your mind will still finds things to worry about, and you'll still be miserable.
  • That's why it's foolish to hope for a good fortune. If you were to hope for one thing, you could hope for the strength of character that's able to thrive in good fortune. Or better, work for that kind of character and confidence.

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You Hold The Trump Card - Day 53

  • We could look at the upcoming day and despair at all the things we don't control: other people, our health, the outcome of a project once it leaves our hands.
  • Or we could look out at that very same day and rejoice at the one thing we do control: the ability to decide what any event means.
  • The second option offers the ultimate power-a true and fair form of control. While you don't control external events, you retain the ability to decide how you respond to those events.
  • This includes the difficult one in front of you now. You'll find, if you approach it right, that this trump card is plenty.

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Your Actual Needs Are Small - Day 54

  • It can be beneficial to reflect on what you used to accept as normal! Consider your first paycheck - how big it seemed then. Today, as you've become more successful, these conditions would hardly feel sufficient. In fact, you want even more than what you have now. Yet a few years ago those small you had, they felt great.
  • Remember today that you'd be okay if things suddenly went wrong. Your actual needs are small. There is very little that could happen that can truly threaten your survival. Think about that - and adjust your worries and fears accordingly.

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You Can't Touch Me - Day 55

  • Rubin Carter, the boxér was wrongly convicted of homicide and spent nearly 20 years in prison. He would say, "I don't acknowledge the existence of the prison. It doesn't exist for me." Of course the prison existed, and he was inside it. But he refused to let his mind be contained by it.
  • That's the power that you have too, in the midst of any and every kind of adversity, it is there. No matter what's happening to your body, no matter what the outside world inflicts on you, your mind can remain philosophical. It's still yours. It's untouchable - and in a way, then, so are you.

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Let Virtue Shine Bright - Day 56

"Doesn't the light of a lamp shine and keep its glow until its fuel is spent? Why shouldn't your truth, justice, and self-control shine until you are extinguished?" - Marcus Aurelius

Seneca writes that, "we mortals are lighted and extinguished." Whether the wick of your lamp is being lit for the first time, after a long period of darkness, or even right before the proverbial big sleep, it makes no difference.

Here is where you are right now, and it's as good a place as any to let virtue shine and continue to shine for as long as you exist.

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The Most Valuable Asset - Day 57

"But the wise person can lose nothing. Such a person has everything stored up for themselves because they invest well" - Seneca

  • Some people put their money in assets - stocks, bonds, property. Others invest in relationships or accomplishments, knowing that they can draw on these things just as easily as others can draw funds from a bank account. But a third type, Seneca says, invests in themselves - in being a good and wise person.
  • Which of these assets is most immune to market fluctuations and disasters? Which is most resilient during trials and tribulations? Which will never abandon you?

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A Mantra Of Mutual Independence - Day 58

"Meditate often on the interconnectedness and mutual interdependence of all things in the universe. For in a sense, all things are mutually woven together and therefore have an affinity for each other - for one thing follows after another according to their tension of movement, their sympathetic stirrings, and the unity of all substance." - Marcus Aurelius

  • Over and over again, the stoics reminded themselves of the interconnectedness in life. Today, take a moment to remember that we are woven together and that each of us plays a role (good, bad and or ugly) in this world.

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All For One, One For All - Day 59

"That which isn't good for the hive, isn't good for the bee. That which doesn't harm the community can't harm the individual." - Marcus Aurelius

Just because something is bad for you doesn't mean it's bad for everyone. Just because something is good for you definitely doesn't mean it's good for everyone.

A good stoic understands that proper impulses, and the right actions that arise from them, naturally carry the good of the whole, which is the wise person's only good. Conversely, good and wise actions by the whole are what's good for the individual.

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Words Can't Be Unsaid - Day 60

"Better to trip with the feet than with the tongue." - Zeno

  • You can always get up after you fall, but remember, what has been said can never be unsaid. Especially cruel and hurtful things.
  • So it's always better to think twice before you say something which makes you regret a lifetime. Cruel words are like double-edged swords. It's going to hurt both sides. Choose wisely.

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Looking Out For Each Other - Day 61

  • Watching other people succeed is one of the toughest things to do - especially if we are not doing well ourselves. In our hunter-gatherer minds, we suspect that life is a zero-sum game - that for someone to have more, means that we might end up less.
  • But like all parts of philosophy, empathy and selflessness are a matter of practice. The stoics teach themselves to actively cheer for other people - even in cases where that might come at their own expense - and to put aside jealousy and possessivess. You can do that too.

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A Selfish Reason To Be Good - Day 62

"The person who does wrong, does wrong to themselves - making themselves evil" - Marcus Aurelius

  • The next time you do something wrong, try to remember how it made you feel. Rarely does one say, "I felt great!"
  • We feel a version of sickness when we lie, when we cheat and when we screw someone over. In that split second before your ill-gotten gains kick in, ask: How do I feel about myself?
  • Self-awareness and wrongdoing rarely go together. If you need a selfish reason to not do wrong - put yourself in touch with these feelings. They're a powerful disincentive.

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A Higher Pleasure - Day 63

"Yes getting your wish would have been so nice. But isn't that exactly why pleasure trips us up? Instead, see if these things might be even nicer - a great soul, freedom and honesty, kindness, saintliness." - Marcus Aurelius

  • Marcus reminds us that pleasure hardly stand up to virtue. The dopamine rush from sex is momentary. So is the pride of an accomplishment or a hearty applause from a crowd. These pleasures are powerful, but they wear off and leaving us wanting more.
  • What lasts longer (and remains more within our control)? Wisdom, good character, sobriety, and kindness.

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Set The Standards And Use Them - Day 64

We go through our days responding and reacting, but it's better to really pause and ask: Is this the kind of thing the person I would like to be should do?

The work of living is to set standards and then not compromise them. When you're brushing your teeth, choosing your friends, losing your temper, instructing your child, or walking your dog - all of these are opportunities.

Now I want to do good - that's an excuse. But I will do good in this particular instance, right now. Set a standard; hold fast to it. That's all there is.

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Révérence And Justice - Day 65

"Leave the past behind, let the grand design take care of the future, and instead only rightly guide the present to révérence and justice. Révérence so that you'll love what you've been allotted, for nature brought you both to each other. Justice so that you'll speak the truth freely and without evasion, and so that you'll act only as the law and value of things require." - Marcus Aurelius

  • Two words for life: persist and resist. But what principles should determine what we persist in and what we ought to resist? Marcus supplies that answer: reverence and justice. In other words, virtue.

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Honesty As Our Default - Day 66

  • All of us have used phrases like, "I'm going to be straightforward with you here... ", "I'll be honest with you... ", "No disrespect but..." Empty expressions or not, if you say you're being honest now, does that mean you usually aren't?
  • What if, instead, you cultivated a life and a reputation in which honesty was as emphatic and explicit as a contract, as permanent as a tattoo? Not only would it save you from needing to use the reassurances that other, less scrupulous people must engage in, it will make you a better person.

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Always Love - Day 67

"Hecato says, 'I can teach you a love potion made without any drugs, herbs or special spell - if you would be loved, love." - Seneca

  • Love. Love. Love. Why? Because, as the Beatles put it, "In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." Not just in politics, not just in tolerance, but in our personal lives.
  • There is almost no situation in which hatred helps. Yet almost every situation is made better by love - or empathy, understanding, appreciation - even situations in which you are in opposition to someone.
  • And who knows, you might just get some of that love back.

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Revenge Is A Dish Best Not Served - Day 68

  • Let's say someone has treated you rudely. It's natural to think: Oh that's how the world works, or One day it will be my turn to be like that.
  • But the proper response - indeed the best revenge - is to exact no revenge at all. If you meet other people's dishonesty with dishonesty of your own, guess what? You're proving them right - now everyone is a liar.
  • Instead, today, let's seek to be better than the things that disappoint or hurt us. It's awful to cheat, to be selfish, to feel the need to inflict pain on our fellow beings. Meanwhile, living morally and well is quite nice.

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Don't Get Mad, Help - Day 69

  • The person sitting next to you on the plane, the one who is loudly chattering and knocking around in your space? In these situations, you might feel it takes everything you have to restrain yourself from murdering them.
  • It's funny how that thought comes into our heads before, you know, politely asking them to stop, or making a minor scene of asking for a different seat. We don't just want people to be better, we expect it to magically happen, that we can simply will other people to change, with our angry stare.
  • Although when you think about it, it makes you wonder who the rude one actually is.

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Give People The Benefit Of The Doubt - Day 70

  • A virtuous person does not jump to hasty judgements about other people. A virtuous person is generous with assumptions: that something was an accident, that someone didn't know, that it won't happen again. This makes life easier to bear and makes us more tolerant. Meanwhile, assuming malice - the most hasty of judgements - makes everything harder to bear. 
  • Be deliberate and accommodating with your assumptions about other people and you'll find, as Marcus says, calmer dead and fairer weather. 

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Spread The Word - Day 71

  • Stoicism is not a religion. You're not obligated to save anyone - there's no risk of hell if a soul remains ignorant to the Stoic philosophy.
  • But now that you've learned a better path, you can be of service to others. You can share your wisdom or insight with a friend or stranger - remembering that behaviour is always a better example than a lecture.
  • Everyone deserves to benefit from "philosophy's principles" as Seneca put it. If you see someone who is in need of help, or has asked for guidance, provide it. You owe them that much.

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The Benefit of Kindness - Day 72

  • The first person you meet today - passing acquaintance or friend - no matter the context - positive or negative - is an opportunity for kindness. For both of you. You can seek to understand who they are, and what forces might be acting on them. And you can treat them well and be better off for it.
  • The same is true with the second person you encounter, and the third. Of course, there is no guarantee that they will return the favor, but that's not our concern. As always, we're going to focus on what we control: in this case, the ability to choose to respond with kindness.

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Frenemies - Day 73

  • It's pretty obvious that one should keep away from the wicked and two-faced as much as possible. Marcus is reminding us to avoid false friends.
  • But what if we turn it around? We've all been frenemy at one point or another. We've been nice to their face - usually because there was something in it for us - but later, in different company, we said how we really felt. Ore we've strung someone along, cared only when things were going well, or declined to help even though someone needed us.
  • This behaviour is beneath us - and worth remembering the next time we accuse someone else of being a bad friend.

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Good Habits Drive Out Bad Habits - Day 74

  • When a bad habit reveals itself, counteract it with a commitment to a contrary virtue. For instance, let's say you find yourself procrastinating today - don't dig in and fight it. Get up and take a walk to clear you head and reset instead.
  • Oppose established habits, and use the counterforce of training to get traction and make progress. If you find yourself cutting corners during a workout or on a project, say to yourself: "OK, now I am going to go even further or do even better."
  • Good habits have the power to drive out bad habits. And habits are easy to pick up - as we all know.

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Marks Of The Good Life - Day 75

  • What's the meaning of life? Most of us struggle with this question. Rarely do we find much in the way of direction. But that's because we miss the point. As Viktor Frankl points out, it is not our question to ask. Instead, it is we who are being asked the question. It's our lives that are the answer.
  • No amount of travel or reading or clever sages can tell you what you want to know. Instead, it is you who must find the answer in your actions, in living the good life - by embodying the self-evident principles of justice, self-control, courage, freedom, and abstaining from evil.

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Heroes Here And Now - Day 76

  • Alexandria, the city in Egypt, still bears the name of its founder, Alexander the Great. How cool it would feel to have a city named after you?
  • Here's a thought: it wouldn't be cool. Because like Alexander, you'll be dead. You'll have no idea whether your name lasted down through centuries.
  • Instead of wasting even a second considering opinions of future people - focus every bit of yourself on being the best person you can be in the present moment. On doing the right thing, right now. The distant future is irrelevant. Be good and noble and impressive now - while it still matters.

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It's Easy to Get Better. But Better At What? - Day 77

  • Self-improvement is a noble pursuit. Most people don't even bother. But among those who do, it's possible for vanity and superficiality to corrupt this process.
  • Our will shouldn't be directed at becoming the person who is in perfect shape or who can speak multiple languages but who doesn't have a second for other people. What's the point of winning at sports but losing in the effort to be a good husband, wife, father, mother, son, or daughter? Let's not confuse getting better at stuff with being a better person. One is a much bigger priority than the other.

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Show The Qualities You Were Made For - Day 78

  • It's easy to blame our circumstances. One person curses that they weren't born taller, another that they're not smarter, with a different complexion, or born in a different country. It'd be hard to find a single person - who doesn't think they're deficient in atleast some way.
  • But there are positive qualities that you can develop that don't depend on genetic accents. You have the choice to, be truthful, dignified, endure, be happy, be free, avoid trafficking in gossip, be gracious.
  • And honestly, aren't the traits that are the result of effort and skill more impressive anyway?

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The Fountain Of Goodness - Day 79

"Dig deep within yourself, for there is a fountain of goodness ever ready to flow if you will keep digging." - Marcus Aurelius

  • Today, we could hope that goodness comes our way - good news, good weather, good luck. Or we could find it ourselves, in ourselves. Goodness isn't something that's going to be delivered by mail. You have to dig it up inside your own soul. You find it within your own thoughts, and you make it with your own actions.

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Two Tasks - Day 80

  • You have two essential tasks in life: to be a good person and to pursue the occupation that you love. Everything else is a waste of energy.
  • How does one do that? Stoics makes it simple enough: say no to distractions, to destructive emotions, to outside pressure. Ask yourself: What is it that only I can do? Try to do the right thing when situation calls for it. Treat other people the way you would hope to be treated. And understand that every small choice and tiny matter is an opportunity to practice these principles.
  • That's it. That's what goes into the most important skill of all: how to live

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Three Parts, One Aim - Day 81

The best and the greatest number of authors have asserted that philosophy consists of three parts: the moral, the natural, and the rational.

  1. The first puts the soul in order.
  2. The second throughly examines the natural order of things.
  3. The third enquires into the proper meaning of words, and their arrangements and proofs which keep falsehoods from creeping in to displace truth.

These three parts - have one aim. As different as they are, they have the same purpose: to help you live a good life ruled by reason. Not in the future, but right now.

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We Reap What We Sow - Day 82

  • It's something to think about when you consider whom to work with and whom to do business with in life. If you provide a bad example or something illegal or unethical advice to your employees, associates, or your children, might they betray you or hurt you down the road? What goes around comes around, is the saying. Karma is a notion we have imported from the East, along similar lines.
  • Seneca paid a price for his instructions to Nero. As has been throughout the ages, his hypocrisy - avoidable or not - was costly. So too will be yours.

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We Were Made For Each Other - Day 83

  • Philosophy attracts introverts. The study of human nature can make you aware of other people's faults and can breed contempt for others. So do struggle and difficulty - they isolate us from the world.
  • But none of that changed that we are, as Aristotle put it, social animals. We need each other. We must be there for each other. We must take care of each other (and to allow others to care for us in return). To pretend otherwise is to violate our nature, to be more or less than what is means to be a human being.

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Character Is Fate - Day 84

  • In the hiring process, most employers look what jobs the candidates have held in the past. This is because past success can be an indicator of future success. But is it always?
  • Of course not. This is why character is a far better measure of a man or woman. Not just for jobs, but for friendships, relationships, for everything. Heraclitus put it as a maxim: "Character is fate."
  • When you seek to advance your own position in life, character is the best lever - perhaps not in the short term, but certainly over the long term. And the same goes for the people you invite in your life.

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Who Gets The Lion's Share - Day 85

  • According to Seneca, philosophy shouldn't have to accept what time or energy is left over from other occupations but instead we should graciously make time for those other pursuits only once our study is finished.
  • If real self-improvement is what we're after we why do we leave our reading until those few minutes before we shut off the lights and go to bed? Why do we block 8 to 10 hours to stay at office, but block out no time for thinking about the big questions? The average person manages to squeeze in 28 hours of television per week-but if asked about philosophy they'll say they're too busy.

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You Were Born Good - Day 86

  • The notion of original sin has weighed down humankind for centuries. In reality, we're made to be good to each other.
  • You were born good. All of us have been made by nature, so that we can live free from error and nobly - not that one can and another can't, but all. You were born with an attraction to virtue & self-mastery. If you've gotten far from that, it's not out of some inborn corruption but from a nurturing of the wrong things and ideas. As Seneca has pointed out, philosophy is a tool to strip it all away - to get back to our true nature.

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Accepting What Is - Day 87

  • Something happened that we wish had not. Which of these is easiest to change: our opinion or the event that is past?
  • The answer is obvious. Accept what happened and change your wish that it had not happened. The art of acquiescence - to accept rather than fight every little thing.
  • Stoics take us a step forward. Instead of simply accepting, they urge us to enjoy what has happened - whatever it is. A love of fate.
  • To wish for what has happened to happen is a clever way to avoid disappointment, but to actually feel gratitude for what happens? To love it? That's a recipe for happiness and joy.

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Binding Our Wishes To What Will Be - Day 88

"But I haven't at any time been hindered in my will, nor forced against it. And how is this possible? I have bound up my choice to act with the will of God. God wills that I be sick, such is my will. He wills that I should choose something, so do I. He will that I reach for something, or something be given to me-I wish for the same. What God doesn't will, I do not wish for." - Epictetus

  • And so it goes will all our ventures. No matter how much preparation, how skilled or smart we are, the ultimate outcome is with God or fate or luck or whatever you want to call it. The sooner we know the better.

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Following The Doctor's Orders - Day 89

"Just as we commonly hear people say the doctor prescribed some particular exercises, or ice baths, we should in the same way say that nature prescribed someone to be diseased, or disabled, or suffer any impairment. Incase of the doctor, something is ordered to help aid someone's healing. But in the case of nature, what happens to each of us is ordered to help aid our destiny" - Marcus

  • When external events set in, we fight like hell if anything happens contrary to our plans. What if this was as good for us, as a medicine the doctor would've prescribed as part of our treatment? 
  • Well, what if? 

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Not Good Neither Bad - Day 90

  • When people say change is good, they're usually trying to reassure themselves. Because instinctively we view change as bad - or at least we're suspicious of it.
  • The Stoics want you to do away with those labels altogether. Change isn't good. The status quo isn't bad. They just are.
  • Remember, events are objective. It's only our opinion that says something is good or bad (and thus worth fighting against or fighting for). A better attitude? To decide to make most of everything. But to do that you must first cease fighting.

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A Higher Power - Day 91

  • In undergoing the twelve step program, many addicts struggle most with step 2: acknowledging a higher power. Addicts often fight this one. At first they claim its because they're atheists or because they don't like religion. But later they realise that this is just the addiction talking.
  • You don't have to believe there is a god directing the universe, you just need to stop believing that you're the director. As soon as you can attune your spirit to that idea, the easier and happier your life will be, because you will have given up the most potent addiction of all: control

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Someone Else Is Spinning The Thread - Day 92

"If the breaking day sees someone proud, the ending day sees them brought low.

No one should put too much trust in triumph, No one should give up hope of trails improving.

God mixes one with the other and stops fortune from resting, spinning every fate around.

No one has has so much divine favor that they could guarantee themselves tomorrow.

God keeps our lives hurtling on, spinning in a whirlwind"-Seneca

  • No amount of prosperity, no amount of difficulty, is certain or forever. A triumph becomes a trial, a trail becomes a triumph. Life can change in an instant. Remember, how often it does today.

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How To Be Powerful - Day 93

"Don't trust in your reputation, or position, but in the strength that is yours - namely, your judgements about the things that you control and don't control. For this alone is what makes us free and unfettered, that picks us up by the neck from the depths and lifts us eye to eye with the rich and powerful." - Seneca

  • Once Alexander's way was blocked by a philosopher. "This man has conquered the world. What have you done?" asked one of his men. The philosopher replied, "I have conquered the need to conquer the world".
  • This just means focusing inward on acquiring power rather than outward.

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Actors In A Play - Day 94

  • Marcus Aurelius didn't want to be emperor. Epictetus lived his life like a slave. Our station in life can be as random as a roll of dice. Some of us are into previlage and others adversity. Sometimes opportunities, other times a lucky break, but to us it feels like a burden.
  • Whatever happens, our job is not to complain but to do the best we can to accept it and fulfill it. Is there still room for ambition? Of course! History tells us stories with bit parts turned into starring roles in future adaptations. But all this begins with acceptance - and a desire to excel at what we have been assigned.

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All Is Fluid - Day 95

  • Is the ship of Theseus the same ship after every wooden plank of it is replaced or is it a new one?
  • In Japan a Shinto shrine is rebuilt every 23 years. Is it one shrine, 1400 years old? Or sixty consecutive shrines?
  • Our understanding of what something is, is just a snapshot - an ephemeral opinion. The universe is in a constant state of change. Our nails grow and are cut and keep growing. New skin replaces dead skin. Old memories are replaced by new. Are we still the same people? Are the people around us the same? Nothing is exempt from this fluidity, not even the things we hold most sacred.

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Always The Same - Day 96

  • One of the striking things about history is just how long human beings have been doing what they do - living, dying, loving, fighting, crying and laughing. 
  • Popular books perpetuate the belief that, things are really different now. This irony is that people have believed that for centuries. 
  • Strong people resist this notion. They know, things are the same as they've always been and always will be. You're just like the people who came before you, and you're but a brief stopover until the people just like you who will come after. The earth abides forever, but we will come and go. 

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It's Not The Thing, It's What We Make Of It - Day 97

"When you are distressed by an external thing, it's not the thing that troubles you, but only your judgment of it" - Aurelius

  • Franklin Roosevelt, widely regarded as one of America's greatest leaders, at middle age was diagnosed with polio after spending years preparing for presidency.
  • The "external thing" was that he was crippled - this was a literal fact - but his judgement if it was that it did not cripple his career or personhood. Though he was the victim of a then incurable disease, he wiped away - almost immediately - the victim's mentality.
  • Let's not confuse acceptance with passivity.

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The Strong Accept Responsibility - Day 98

  • A sign on President Truman's desk read, THE BUCK STOPS HERE. As president, he knew that good or bad, there wasn't anyone he could blame for stuff other than himself.
  • As president of our own lives - and knowing that our powers begin and end with our reasoned choice - we would do well to internalize this same attitude. We don't control things outside that sphere, but we do control our attitudes and our responses to those events - and that's plenty. It's enough that we go into each and every day knowing that there is no one to pass the buck to. It ends with us.

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Never Complain, Never Explain - Day 99

"Don't allow yourself to be heard any longer griping about public life, not even with your own ears!" - Marcus Aurelius

  • It calls to mind a motto of British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli: "Never complain, never explain." He said this because, like Marcus, he knew that the burdens of responsibility were immense. It's so easy to complain about this or that, or to try to make excuses and justifications for the things you've done. But that doesn't accomplish anything - and it never lightens the load.

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You Choose The Outcome - Day 100

"He was sent to prison. But the observation 'he has suffered evil', is an addition coming from you" - Epictetus

  • This is classic Stoic thinking, as you've gathered by now. An event itself is objective. How we describe it - that it was unfair, or it's a great calamity - is on us. Malcolm X went into prison a criminal, but he left as an educated, religious, and motivated man who would help in the struggle for civil rights. Did he suffer an evil? Or did he choose to make his experience a positive one?

Acceptance isn't passive. It's the first step in an active process toward self-improvement.

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Everything Is Change - Day 101

"Meditate often on the swiftness with which all that exists and is coming into being is swept and carried away. For substance is like river's unending flow, its activities continually changing and causes infinitely shifting so that almost nothing stands still." - Marcus Aurelius

  • Life is a contant state of change. To get upset by things is to wrongly assume that they will last. To blame ourselves or others is grabbing at the wind. To resent change is to wrongly assume that you have a choice in the matter.
  • Everything is change. Embrace that. Flow with it.

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Hope And Fear Are The Same - Day 102

  • Hope is generally regarded as good. Fear is generally regarded as bad. To a Stoic, they are the same - both are projections into the future about things we do not control. Both are enemy of this present moment that you are actually in. Both mean you're living a life in opposition to amor fati.
  • It's not about overcoming our fears but understanding that both hope and fear contain a dangerous amount of want and worry in them. And, sadly, the want is what causes the worry.

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Judge Not, Lest... - Day 103

  • Remember, the proper direction of philosophy - of all the things we're doing here - is focused inward. To make ourselves better and to leave other people to that task for themselves and their own journey. Our faults are in our control, and so we turn to philosophy to help scrape them off like barnacles from the hull of a ship. Other people's faults? Not so much. That's for them to do.
  • Leave people to their faults. Nothing in Stoic philosophy empowers you to judge them - only to accept them. Especially when we have so many of our own.

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Four Habits Of The Stoic Mind - Day 104

Whatever our case is today, let's align our minds along these four critical habits:

  1. Accept only what is true.
  2. Work for the common good.
  3. Match our needs and wants with what is in our control.
  4. Embrace what nature has in store for us.

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Maxims From Three Wise Men - Day 105

  • Epictetus shows us the themes of tolerance and acceptance. Cleanthes and Euripides evoke destiny and fate as concepts that help ease acceptance. When one has a belief in a greater power, then there is no such thing as an event going contrary to plan.
  • What happens to us can seem random or upsetting, when in fact these events make perfect sense when our perspective is zoomed out, even just slightly.
  • Let's practice this today. Pretend that each event - whether desired or unexpected - was willed to happen, willed specifically for you. You wouldn't fight that much would you?

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Behold, Now As Ever - Day 106

  • The events that will transpire today are the same things that have always occurred. This moment right now, is a quotation of the moments that have come before and will come ever after.
  • This idea is expressed beautifully in the Christian hymn Gloria Patri. "As it was in the beginning, and now, and always, and to the ages of ages." This fact can have a calming, centering effect. No need to get excited, no need to wait on pins and needles. If you haven't seen this before, someone else has. That can be a relief.

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Once Is Enough, Once Is Forever - Day 107

  • Perhaps wisdom and happiness are like winning a medal in the Olympics. It doesn't matter whether you won just once or in multiple events, a hundred years before or just now and it doesn't matter whether you never compete again. You'll always be a medalist, and you'll always know what it feels like. No one can take that away - and it would be impossible to feel more of that feeling.
  • Perhaps today will be the day we experience happiness or wisdom. Don't try to grab or hold on to it. Enjoy it, recognize it and remember it. Having it for a moment is the same as having it forever.

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The Glass Is Already Broken - Day 108

  • A Zen master who had a beautiful cup would repeat to himself, "The glass is already broken." He enjoyed the cup and used it, but in his mind it was already broken. And so one day when it actually did break, he said, "Of course."
  • Devastation - that feeling of shock - is a factor of how unlikely we considered the event. No one is wrecked by the fact that it's snowing in the winter, because we've accepted (and even anticipated) this turn of events. What about the occurrences that surprise us? We might not be so shocked if we took the time to consider their possibility.

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Attachments Are The Enemy - Day 109

  • There is only one thing that causes unhappiness. It's attachment. Attachments to a specific person, place, time, job or a lifestyle.
  • Attachments are what make it so hard to accept change. Once we have them, we don't want to let go. We become slaves to maintaining the status quo.
  • But everything is in a constant state of change. We have certain things for a while and then lose them. The only permanent thing is our reasoned choice. They are resilient and adaptable. The sooner we become aware of this the better. The easier it will be to accept and adapt to what does happen.

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Train To Let Go Of What's Not Yours - Day 110

  • At a Roman triumph, everyone would keep praising the victorious general. Only a few would notice the aide whispering into his ear, "Remember, thou art mortal." What a reminder at the peak of glory.
  • In our lives we can train to be that whisper. When there is something or someone we love, whisper that it is fragile and mortal. No matter how strong something feels, it never is. We must remind ourselves that it can break, die and leave us.
  • Loss is one of our deepest fears. Ignorance and pretending don't make things any better. They just mean the loss will be all the more jarring when it occurs.

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Funny How That Works Out - Day 111

  • Stories about lottery winners tend to share one lesson: suddenly coming into a great deal of money is a curse, not a blessing. In just a few years, many lottery winners are actually in worse financial shape. They've lost friends, got divorced, and their lives have turned into a nightmare as a result of their good fortune.
  • And yet the most common response from a cancer survivor, the person who went through the thing we all dread and fear? "It was the best thing that ever happened to me."
  • Funny how that works out, isn't it?

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The Altar Of No Difference - Day 112

"We are like pellets of incense falling on the altar. Some collapse sooner, others later, but it makes no difference."-Marcus Aurelius

  • Measuring ourselves against others makes acceptance difficult, because we want what they have, not what we happen to have. But that makes no difference.
  • Some might see this line from Marcus as pessimistic, whereas others see it as optimistic. It's really just truth. We're all here and we're all going to leave this earth eventually, so let's not concern ourselves with petty differences in the meantime. We have too much to do.

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The Pleasure Of Tuning Out The Negative - Day 113

  • Turn your mind away from the things that provoke it. If you find discussing politics at home leads to fighting or your siblings choices bother you, why don't you stop making these choices your concern?
  • It's not a sign of weakness to shut them out. Instead, it's a sign of strong will. Try saying, "I know the reaction I typically take in these situations, and I'm not going to do it this time." and then follow it with: "I'm also going to remove this stimulus from my life in the future as well."
  • Because what follows is peace and serenity.

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It's Not On Them, It's On You - Day 114

"If someone is slipping up, kindly correct them and point out what they missed. But if you can't, blame yourself-or no one." - Marcus

  • To be able to see that if a friend is unreliable, maybe it's because they don't know what's wrong or because we haven't tried to help them fix their flaw. If an employee is underperforming, just talk to them to figure out if they lack any support. If someone is being annoying, try talking to them about the problem with their behavior, or ask yourself: Why am I being so sensitive?
  • And if this doesn't work, try letting it go. It might be an isolated incident anyway.

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You Are Going To be OK - Day 115

"Don't lament this and don't get agitated." - Marcus Aurelius 

  • There's that feeling we get when something happens. It's all over now. All is lost. What follows are complaints and pity and misery - the impotent struggle against something that's already occurred. Why bother? We have no idea what the future holds. We have no idea what's coming up around the bend. It could be more problems, or this could be the darkness before the dawn. 
  • If we're Stoic, there is one thing we can be sure of: whatever happens, we're going to be OK. 

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Follow The Logos - Day 116

  • The guiding reason of the world - the Stoics called this the logos - works in mysterious ways.
  • There is a helpful analogy to explain the logos. We are like a dog leashed to a moving cart. The direction of the cart will determine where we go. Depending on the length of the leash, we also have a fair amount of room to explore and determine the pace, but ultimately what each of us must choose is whether we will go willingly or be painfully dragged. Which will it be?
  • Cheerful acceptance? Or ignorant refusal? In the end, they amount to the same.

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Pretend Today Is The End - Day 117

  • "Live each day as if it were your last" is a chiche. Plenty say, few actually do it.
  • A better analogy would be soldiers who are about to leave on deployment. Not knowing whether they'll return or not, what do they do?
  • They get their affairs in order, handle their business, tell their children or family that they love them. No time for quarrelling and other petty things.
  • When ready to go - hoping to come back in one piece but prepared for the possibility that they might not. Let us live today that same way.

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Don't Mind Me, I'm Dying Slow - Day 118

"Let each thing you do, say or intend be like that if a dying person." - Marcus Aurelius

  • Here's the thing: you already have a terminal diagnosis. We all do. As the writer Edmund Wilson put it, "Death is one prophecy that never fails." Every person is born with a death sentence. Each second that passes by is one you'll never get back.
  • Once you realize this, it will have a profound impact on what you do, say, and think. Don't let another day tick away in ignorance of the reality that you're a dying person. We all are. Can today be the day we stop pretending otherwise?

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The Philosopher As An Artisan Of Life And Death - Day 119

  • Philosophy is not some pursuit only for academics or the rich. It is for everyone to help us solve problems of life, not only theoretically but practically.
  • You're not reading these quotes for fun. Though they may be enjoyable, their aim is to help you sculpt and improve your life. And because we have but one life and one death, we should treat each experience like a sculptor with his chisels, carving until we set free the angel in the marble.
  • We are trying to do this difficulty thing - living and dying. And to do that, we must remember what we've learned and the wise words we've been given.

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You Don't Own That - Day 120

  • Marcus Aurelius used to say that we don't own anything and that even our lives are held in trust.
  • We may claw and fight and work to own things, but those things can be taken away in a second. The same goes for other things we like to think are "ours" but are equally precarious: our status, our physical health or strength, our relationships. How can these really be ours if something other than us - fate, bad luck, death and so on - can disposses us of them without notice?
  • So what we do own? Just our lives - and not for long

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The Benefits Of Sobering Thoughts - Day 121

  • Political winds could change in an instant, depriving you of the most basic freedoms you take for granted. Or, no matter who you are or how safely you've lived your life, there's someone out there who would rob and kill you for a couple of dollars.
  • Death is not the only unexpected interruption we might face - our plans can be dashed to pieces by a million things. Today might be a bit more pleasant if you ignore those possibilities, but at what cost?

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The Sword Dangles Over You - Day 122

"Don't behave as if you're destined to live forever. What's fated hangs over you. As long as you live and while you can, become good now." - Marcus Aurelius

  • The reality is, a sword is hanging over all of us - life can be taken from us at any moment. And that threat can send us in one of two directions: we can fear and dread it, or we can use it to motivate us. To do good, to be good. Because the sword is dangling, and there's nothing else to be concerned with. Would you rather it catch you in the middle of some shameful, selfish act or during your wait to be good in the future?

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The Cards We're Dealt - Day 123

  • We have an irrational fear of acknowledging our own mortality. We avoid thinking about it because we think it will be depressing. In fact, reflecting on mortality often has the opposite effect - invigorating us more than saddening us. Why? Because it gives us clarity.
  • If you had only a week to live, what changes would you make? If you died but were resuscitated, how different would your perspective be?
  • There's no risk of getting caught up in petty matters or distractions. Instead of denying our fear of death, let's let it make us the best people we can be. Today!

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Don't Hide From Your Feelings - Day 124

"It's better to conquer grief than to deceive it." - Seneca

  • The Stoics intended to teach us to face, process and deal with emotions immediately instead of running from them. Distraction might be pleasant in the short term but focusing is better in the long term.
  • That means facing it now. Process and parse what you are feeling. Remove your expectations, your entitlements, your sense of having been wronged. Find the positive in the situation, but also sit with your pain and accept it, remembering that it is a part of life. That's how one conquers grief.

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Spendthrifts Of Time - Day 125

  • Today there will be endless interruptions: calls, mails, visitors. A philosopher knows that their default state should be one of reflection and inner awareness. That's why they protect their personal space and thoughts from the intrusions of the world.
  • Senaca reminds us that while we might be good at protecting our physical property, we are far too lax at enforcing our mental boundaries. Property can be regained - some of it still untouched by man. But time? Time is our most irreplaceable asset - we cannot buy more of it. We can only strive to waste as little as possible.

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Don't Sell Yourself Too Cheaply - Day 126

  • Do we treat the days of our lives like we treat our money? Because we don't exactly know how many days we'll be alive, and because we try our hardest not to think about the fact that someday we'll die, we're pretty liberal with how freely we spend our time. We let people and obligations impose on that time, only rarely asking: What am I getting in return here?
  • Seneca's maxim is the equivalent of cutting up your credit cards and switching to cash. He says to put real thought into every transaction: Am I getting my money's worth here? Is this a fair trade?

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Dignity And Bravery - Day 127

"As Cicero says, we hate gladiators if they are quick to save their lives by any means; we favor them if they show contempt for their lives." - Seneca

  • We do not need to disregard our physical safety or engage in wanton acts of violence to be brave. But nobody respects a coward. Nobody likes a shirker of duty. Nobody admires a person who puts too high a price on their own comfort and needs.
  • That's the irony of cowardice. It's aimed at self-protection, but it creates shameful secrets. Self-preservation is hardly worth it because of everything it costs in return.
  • Be brave. Be dignified.

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The Beat Goes On - Day 128

  • All things die. Not just people but companies, kingdoms, religions, and ideas - eventually. The Roman republic lasted 450 years. The Roman Empire lasted 500 years. The longest recorded life of a human being is 122 years.
  • The average life expectancy in the United States is over seventy-eight. In other countries and eras, it has been more and it has been less. But in the end, we all succumb, as Marcus said, to the rhythm of events-of which there is always a final, determined beat. There is no need to dwell on this fact, but there is no point in ignoring it either.

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It's Just A Number - Day 129

  • They say age is just a number. Rich people and health nuts spend billions in an effort to move the expiration date from around seventy-eight to hopefully forever.
  • The number of years we manage to eke out doesn't matter, only what those years are composed of. Seneca put it best when he said, "Life is long if you knew how to use it." Sadly, most people don't - they waste the life they've been given. Only when it's too late do they try to compensate for that waste, by vainly hoping to put more time on the clock.
  • Use today. Use everyday. Make yourself satisfied with what you have been given.

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What We Should Know By The End - Day 130

  • Marcus has accomplished many things in life, but during his last days his emotions were still the cause of discomfort, pain, and frustration. He knew that with his limited time left, better choices would provide relief.
  • Hopefully, you have a lot more time left - but that makes it even more important to make headway while you still can. We are unfinished products up until the end. But the earlier we learn it, the more we can enjoy the fruits of the labor on our character - and the sooner we can be free (or freer) of insincerity, anxiety, ungraciousness, and un-Stoic-ness.

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A Simple Way To Measure Our Days - Day 131

  • The Stoics didn't think that anyone could be perfect. The idea of becoming a sage - the highest aspiration of a philosopher - wasn't realistic.
  • Still, they started every day hoping to get a little closer to that mark. There was much to gain in the trying.
  • Can you actually live today like it is your last day? Is it even possible to embody completeness or perfection in our character, effortlessly doing the right thing for a full twenty-four hours? Is it possible for more than a minute?
  • Maybe not. But if trying was enough for the Stoics, it should ge enough for us too.

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Everlasting Good Health - Day 132

  • It's dangerous to have faith in what you do not control. But your own reasoned choice? Well, for now that is in your control. Therefore it is one of the few things you can have confidence in. It's the one area of health that can't suddenly be given a terminal diagnosis. It's the only one that remains pristine and never wears down - it's only the user who quits it; never will it quit the user.
  • All philosophers lived this way - even while they had families and while they were struggling students. And so can you.

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Know Thyself - Before It's Too Late - Day 133

  • Some of the most powerful and important people in the world seem to have almost no self-awareness. We can be guilty of the same sin.
  • We ignore Socrates's dictum to "know thyself" - often realizing we have done so at our peril, years later, when we wake up one day and realize how rarely we have asked ourselves questions like: Who am I? What's important to me? What do I like? What do I need?
  • Now - right now - you have the time to explore yourself, to understand your own mind and body. Don't wait. Know yourself. Before it's impossibly late.

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What Comes To Us All - Day 134

  • In a world that is many ways becoming more and more unequal, there aren't many truly equalitarian experiences left.
  • We all face the same end. Whether you conquer the known world or shine the shoes of the people who do, at the end death will be a radical equalizer - a lesson in abject humility.
  • The next time you feel yourself getting high and mighty - or conversely, feeling low and inferior - just remember, we all end up the same way. In death, no one is better, no one is worse. All our stories have the same finale.

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Human Scale - Day 135

  • The amount of matter in the universe is immense - on the order of trillions of atoms. What percentage of that matter does one human body constitute? Of the earth's 4.6 billion years of age, our time on earth? Several decades, maybe?
  • Sometimes we need to have the facts and figures spelled out in front of us to fully realize the scale at which humans happens to exist in the big scheme of things.
  • Consider this the next time you feel self-important, or like everything rise and falls on what you do next. You're just one person among many, doing your best among many. That's all you need to do.

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Fear The Fear Of Death - Day 136

  • Death is scary because it is such an unknown. No one can come back and tell us what it is like. We are in the dark about it.
  • There is a helpful consideration about death from the Stoics. If death is truly the end, then what is there exactly to fear? For everything from your fears to your pain receptors to your worries and your remaining wishes, they will perish with you. As frightening as death might seem, remember: it contains within it the end of fear.

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What Do You Have To Show For Your Years - Day 137

"An old man has no other evidence besides age to prove that he has lived a long life" - Seneca

  • One day, our hours will begin to run out. It would be nice to be able to say: "Hey I really made the most of it." Not in the form of achievements, not money, not status - you know what the Stoics think of all that - but in wisdom, insight, and real progress in the things that all humans struggle against.
  • What if you could say that you really made something of this time that you had? What if you could prove that you really did live [insert number] years? And not just lived them, but lived them fully?

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Stake Your Own Claim - Day 138

  • It's easier to quote, to rely on the wise words of others. Especially when the people you're deferring to are such towering figures.
  • It's harder (and more intimidating) to venture out on your own and express your own thoughts. But how do you think those wise and true quotes from those towering figures were created in the first place?
  • Your own experiences have value. You have accumulated your own wisdom too. Stake your claim. Put something down for the ages - in words and also in example.

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What Are You So Afraid Of Losing - Day 139

"You are afraid of dying. But, come now, how is this life of yours anything but death?" - Seneca

  • Most of us are afraid of dying. But sometimes this fear begs the question: To protect what exactly? For a lot of people the answer is: hours of television, gossiping, wasting potential, reporting to a boring job, and on and on and on. Expect, in the strictest sense, is this actually a life? Is this worth gripping so tightly and being afraid of losing?
  • It doesn't sound like it.

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Meaningless... Like A Fine Wine - Day 140

"You know what wine and liqueur tastes like. It makes no difference whether a hundred or a thousand bottles pass through your bladder." Senca

  • As fun and exciting pleasures are, it's worth putting them in their place. You don't get a prize at the end of your life for having consumed more, worked more, spent more, collected more, or learned more about the various vintages than everyone else. You are just a conduit,a vessel that temporarily held or interacted with these fancy items.
  • If you find yourself lusting over them, this might help reduce their luster just a smidge.

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Don't Burn The Candle At Both Ends - Day 141

  • The mind is a muscle, and like the rest, it can be strained, overworked, even injured. Our physical health is also worn down by overcommitment, a lack of rest, and bad habits. Remember John Henry - the man who challenged the machine? He died of exhaustion at the end. Don't forget that.
  • Today, you may face things that try your patience, require considerable focus or clarity, or demand creative breakthroughs. Life is a long haul - it will mean many such moments. Are you going to be able to handle them if you've burned the candle at both ends? If you've been abusing and overworking your body?

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Life Is Long - If You Know How To Use It - Day 142

  • Today, if you find yourself rushed or uttering the words "I just don't have enough time," stop and take a second. Is this actually true? Or have you committed to a lot of unnecessary things?
  • Are you actually being efficient, or have you assumed a great deal of waste into your life? The average American spends something like forty hours a year in traffic. That's months over the course of a life. And for "traffic", you can substitute so many activities - from fighting with others to watching television to daydreaming.
  • Your life is plenty long - just use it properly.

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Don't Let Your Soul Go First - Day 143

  • Marcus Aurelius throughout his struggles - the years at war, the crippling illness, his troubled son - he never gave up. It's an inspiring example for us to think about today if we get tired, frustrated, or have to deal with some crisis. Here was a guy who has every reason to be angry, who could have abandoned his principles and lived in luxury, put his responsibilities aside and focused on his own health.
  • But he never did. His soul stayed strong even after his body became weak. He didn't give up, right up to the second until his body finally did. Let's practice this in our lives.

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On Being Remembered - Day 144

  • When walking towards the New York City Public Library, you'll pass the "Library Way" which holds the names of so many important people.
  • How many of these people have we even heard of? The people involved in the story of the library were the most famous men of that time, rich beyond imagination in some cases.
  • Even along "Library Way", many of the famous authors are unfamiliar to the modern reader. They are all long gone, as are the people who remembered them.
  • All of us, including Marcus - who is passed over by just as many unaware pedistrians - last for just a day, at most.

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Give Thanks - Day 145

  • Think of all the things you can be grateful for today. That you are alive, you live in a time of peace, you have enough health and leisure to read these entries. What of the little things? The person who smiled at you, that song you like on the radio, the pleasant weather.
  • Gratitude is infectious. It's positivity is radiant.
  • Even if today was your last day - would there still be plenty to be grateful for? How much better would your life be if you kicked off every day like that? If you let it carry through from morning to night and touch every part of your life?

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Taking The Bite Out Of It - Day 146

"To bear trials with a calm mind robs misfortune of its strength and burden" - Seneca

  • You can take a bite out of any tough situation by bringing a calm mind to it. But considering and meditating on it in advance. And this is not true for just our day-to-day adversities but for the greatest and most unavoidable trial of all: our own eventual death.
  • Death could come tomorrow or in another forty years. It could be quick and painless or excruciating. Our greatest asset in that ordeal will not be religion or the wise words of the philosophers. It will be, simply, our calm and reasoned mind.

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Get Active In Your Own Rescue - Day 147

  • The purpose of all our reading and studying is to aid us in the pursuit of the good life. At some point, we must put our books aside and take action. So that, as Seneca put it, the "words become works." There is an old saying that a "scholar made is a soldier spoiled." We want to be both scholars and soldiers - soldiers in the good fight.
  • That's what's next for you. Move forward, move onward. Another book isn't the answer. The right choices and decisions are. Who knows how much time you have left, or what awaits us tomorrow?

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Control And Choice - Day 148

  • The single most important practice in Stoic philosophy is differentiation between what we can change and what we can't. What we have influence over and what we do not.
  • There's something called Serenity prayer: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
  • If we can focus on making clear what parts of our day are within our control and what parts are not, we will not only be happier, we will have a distinct advantage over other people who fail to realize they are fighting an unwinnable battle.

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Education Is Freedom - Day 149

  • Why are you reading these entries? Not to pass your time - there are plenty of easier choices than reading. Because you are learning how to live. Because you want to be freer, fear less, and achieve a state of peace. Education - reading and meditating on the wisdom of great minds - is not to be done for its own sake. It has a purpose.
  • Remember that imperative on the days you start to feel distracted, when watching television or having a snack seems like a better use of your time than reading or studying philosophy. Knowledge - self knowledge in particular - is freedom.

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Be Ruthless To The Things That Don't Matter - Day 150

  • One of the hardest things in life is to say "No." To invitations, entertainment and obligations. Even harder is saying no to certain time-consuming emotions: anger, excitement, obsession, lust. These don't feel like a big deal, but they become commitment like anything else.
  • Saying no may hurt some feelings. It may turn people off. It may take some hard work. But the more you say no to the things that don't matter, the more you can say yes to the things that do. This will let you live and enjoy your life - the life that you want.

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The Big Three - Day 151

"All you need are these: certainty of judgement in the present moment; action for the common good in the present moment; and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way." - Marcus Aurelius

Perception, Action, Will. Those three sum up the critical disciplines of Stoicism.

  1. Control your perceptions.
  2. Direct your actions properly.
  3. Willingly accept what's outside your control.

That's all we need to do.

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Clarify Your Intentions - Day 152

"By planning to the end you will not be overwhelmed by circumstances and you will know when to stop." - Robert Greene

  • Having an end in mind is no guarantee that you'll reach it - but not having an end in mind is a guarantee you won't.
  • How will you know what do to in a day, where to say yes/no, when you've had enough of something, when you've gotten off track, if you've never defined what those things are?
  • The answer is that you cannot. And so you are driven into failure - or worse, into madness by the oblivion of directionlessness.

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Where, Who, What, And Why? - Day 153

  • How often are we asked a simple question like "Who are you?" and or "What do you do?" or "Where are you from?" Considering it a superficial question - if we even consider it at all - we don't bother with more than a superficial answer.
  • But, gun to their head, most people couldn't give much in the way of a substantive answer. Could you? Have you taken the time to get clarity about who you are and what you stand for? Or are you too busy chasing unimportant things, mimicking the wrong influences, and following disappointing or un fulfilling or non-existent paths?

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Seven Clear Functions Of The Mind - Day 154

Let's get into the tasks:

  1. Choice - to do and think right
  2. Refusal - of temptation
  3. Yearning - to be better
  4. Repulsion - of negativity, of bad influences, of what isn't true
  5. Preparation - for what lies ahead or whatever may happen
  6. Purpose - our guiding principle and highest priority
  7. Assent - to be free of deception about what's inside and outside our control (and be ready to accept the latter)

This is what the mind is here to do. We must make sure that it does - and see everything else as pollution or a corruption.

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Seeing Our Addictions - Day 155

  • What we consider to be harmless indulgences can easily become full-blown addictions. The little compulsions and drives we have not only chip away at our freedom and sovereignty, they cloud our clarity. We think we're in control - but are we really? As one addict put it, addiction is when we've "lost the freedom to abstain." Let us reclaim that freedom.
  • What that addiction is for you can vary: Soda? Drugs? Complaining? Gossip? Internet? Pornography? Biting your nails? But you must reclaim the ability to abstain because within it is your clarity and self-control.

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What We Control And What We Don't - Day 156

  • Today you won't control the external events that happen. Is that scary? A little, but it's balanced when we see that we can control our opinion about those events. You decide whether they're good or bad, fair or unfair. You don't control the situation, but you control what you think about it.
  • Best of all, an honest understanding of what is within our control provides real clarity about the world: all we have is our own mind. Remember that today when you try to extend your reach outward - that it's much better and more appropriately directed inward.

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If You Want To Be Steady - Day 157

  • The Stoics seek steadiness, stability, and tranquility - traits most of us aspire to but seem to experience only fleetingly.
  • These can be achieved by filtering the outside world through the straightener of our judgment. That's what our reason can do - it can take the crooked, confusing, and overwhelming nature of external events and make them orderly.
  • If our judgments are crooked because we don't use reason, then everything that follows will be crooked and we will lose our ability to steady ourselves in the chaos and rush of life. Proper judgment is the best way to steadiness.

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If You Want To Be Unsteady - Day 158

"If a person seeks what is controlled by others, he will be agitated, fearful, and unstable." - Epictetus

  • Epictetus is reminding you that serenity and stability are the results of your choices and judgment, not your environment. If you seek to avoid all disruptions to tranquility - other people, external events, stress - you will never be successful. Your problems will follow you wherever you run and hide. But if you seek to avoid the harmful and disruptive judgments that cause those problems, then you will be stable and steady wherever you happen to be.

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The One Path To Serenity - Day 159

  • In the morning, remind yourself of what is in your control and what's not.
  • Before lunch, remind yourself that the only thing you truly possess is your ability to make choices.
  • In the afternoon, remind yourself that aside from the choices, your fate is not entirely up to you.
  • In the evening, remind yourself again how much is outside of your control and where your choices begin and end.
  • As you lie in bed, remember that sleep is a form of surrender and trust and how easily it comes. And prepare to start the whole cycle over again tomorrow.

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Circle of Control - Day 160

  • This is important enough that it bears repeating: a wise person knows what's inside their circle of control and what is outside of it.
  • The circle of control contains just one thing: YOUR MIND. Everything else, even your physical body isn't completely within the circle. There are physical illness not under your control.
  • The good news is you got fewer things you need to think about. There is clarity in simplicity. You've got just one thing to manage: your choices, your will, your mind.
  • So mind it.

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Cut The Strings That Pull Your Mind - Day 161

  • Think of all the interests vying for a share of your wallet or for a second of your attention. Every human is pulled by these internal and external forces that are increasingly more powerful and harder to resist.
  • Philosophy is simply asking us to pay careful attention and to strive to be more than a pawn. Man is pushed by drives but pulled by values. These values and inner awareness prevent us from being puppets. Sure, paying attention requires work and awareness, but isn't that better than being jerked about on a string?

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Place Is In Staying The Course - Day 162

  • Clarity of vision allows us to have belief. That's not to say we're always going to be 100 percent certain of everything. Rather, we're heading generally in the right direction - that we don't need to constantly compare ourselves with other people or change our minds every three seconds based on new information.
  • Instead, tranquility and peace are found in identifying our path and in sticking to it: staying the course - making adjustments here and there, naturally - but ignoring the distracting sirens who beckon us to turn toward the rocks.

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Never Do Anything Out Of Habit - Day 163

  • A worker is asked: "Why did you do it this way?" The answer is, "Because that's the way we've always done things." The worker has stopped thinking and is mindlessly operating out of habit. The worker will probably get fired by any thinking boss.
  • We should apply the same ruthlessness to our own habits. In fact, we are studying philosophy precisely to break ourselves into rote behavior. Find what you do out of rote memory or routine. Ask yourself: Is this really the best way to do it? Know why you do what you do - do it for the right reasons.

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Reboot The Real Work - Day 164

  • Most teenagers put in half-hearted, lazy efforts which give them a ready-made excuse: "It doesn't matter. I wasn't even trying."
  • As we grow older, failure is not inconsequential anymore. What's at stake is not some grade or sports trophy, but the quality of your life and your ability to deal with the world around you.
  • Don't let that intimidate you, though. You have the best teachers in the world: the wisest philosophers who ever lived. And not only you are capable, but the professor is also asking for something very simple: just begin the work. The rest follows.

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See The World Like A Poet And An Artist - Day 165

  • A powerful perspective lies in ordinary or seemingly unbeautiful events. It takes an artist's eye to see that the end of life is not unlike a ripe fruit falling from its tree.
  • It takes a poet to notice the way "baking bread splits in places and those cracks, while not intended in the baker's art, catches our eye and serves to stir our appetite" and find a metaphor in them.
  • There is clarity (and joy) in seeing what others can't see, in finding grace and harmony in places others overlook. Isn't that far better than seeing the world as some dark place?

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Wherever You Go There Your Choice Is - Day 166

  • In all circumstances - adversity or advantage - we really have just one thing we need to do: focus on what is in our control as opposed to what is not. Right now we may be facing struggles but in just a few days we might do well that success is actually a burden.
  • Ultimately, this is clarity. Whoever we are, wherever we are - what matters is our choice. What are they? How will we evaluate them? How will we make the most of them? Those are the questions life asks us, regardless of our station. How will you answer?

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Reignite Your Thoughts - Day 167

  • Have you had a bad couple of weeks? Have you been drifting away from the principles and beliefs that you hold dear? It's perfectly fine. It happens to all of us.
  • But the reminder here is that no matter what happens, no matter how disappointing our behavior has been in the past, the principles themselves remain inchangés. We can return and embrace them at any moment. What happened yesterday - what happened five minutes ago - is the past. We can reignite and restart whenever we like.
  • Why not do it right now?

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A Morning Ritual - Day 168

  • Many successful people have a morning ritual. For some, it's meditation. For others, it's exercise. For many, it's journaling - just a few pages where they write down their thoughts, fears, hopes. In these cases, the point is not so much the activity itself as it is the ritualized reflection. The idea is to take some time to look inward and examine.
  • Every day starting today, ask yourself some tough questions. Let philosophy and hard work guide you to better answers, one morning at a time, over the course of a life.

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The Day In Review - Day 169

  • At the beginning or end of each day, the Stoic sits down with his journal and reviews: what he did what he thought, what could be improved.
  • Keep your own journal, whether it's saved on a computer or in a little book. Be unflinching in your assessments. Notice what contributed to your happiness and what detracted from it. Write down what you'd like to work on or quotes that you like.
  • By making the effort to record such thoughts, you're less likely to forget them. An added bonus: you'll have a running tally to track your progress too.

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The Truth About Money - Day 170

  • Seneca, who was one of the richest men in Rome, knew firsthand that money only marginally changes life. It doesn't solve the problems that people without it seem to think it will. In fact, no material possession will. External things can't fix internal issues.
  • We constantly forget this - and it causes us so much confusion and pain. Hemingway would write, "He thought (the rich) were a special glamorous race and when he found they weren't it wrecked him as much as any other thing that wrecked him." Without a change, the same will be true for us.

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Push For Deep Understanding - Day 171

  • Marcus read all of Epictetus's ideas and he absorbed them wholly with a deep understanding. They became part of his DNA as a human being. He quoted them at length over the course of his life, finding real clarity and strength in words, even amid the immense luxury and power he would come to possess.
  • That's the kind of deep reading and study we need to cultivate as well, which is why we're reading just one thought a day instead of a book at a time. So we can take the time to read attentively and deeply.

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The Only Prize - Day 172

  • Warren Buffet, whose net worth is $65 billion, lives in the same house he bought in 1958 for $31,500. There're many people like him.
  • Their lifestyle is the result of prioritizing. They cultivate interests below their financial means, and as a result, any income would allow them the freedom to pursue the things they most care about. This kind of clarity - about what they love most in the world - means they can enjoy their lives.
  • The more things we desire and the more we have to do to earn or attain those achievements, the less we actually enjoy our lives - and the less free we are.

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The Power Of A Mantra - Day 173

  • Anyone who has been exposed to Hindu or Buddhist thought has probably heard of the concept of a mantra. It's a word or utterance which allows us to block everything else while we focus.
  • Marcus would suggest this Stoic mantra - a reminder or watch phrase to use when we feel false impressions, distractions, or the crush of everyday life upon us. It says, essentially, "I have the power within me to keep that out. I can see the truth."
  • Change the wording as you like. That part is up to you. But have a mantra and use it to find the clarity you crave.

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The Three Areas Of Training - Day 174

  • First, we must consider what we should desire and what we should be averse to. Why? So that we want what is good and avoid what is bad. It's not enough to just listen to your body - because our attractions often lead us astray.
  • Next, we just examine our impulses to act - that is, our motivations. Are we doing things for the right reasons? Or do we act because we haven't stopped to think? Or do we believe that we have to do something?
  • Finally, there is our judgment. Our ability to see things clearly and properly comes when we use our great gift from nature: reason.

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Watching The Wise - Day 175

  • Seneca has said, "Without a ruler to do it against, you can't make crooked straight." That is the role of wise people in our lives - to serve as models and inspiration. To bounce our ideas off and test our presumptions.
  • Who that person will be for you is up to you. Perhaps it's your father or your mother. Maybe it's a philosopher or a writer or a thinker. Perhaps WWJD (What would Jesus do?) is the right model for you.
  • But pick someone, watch what they do (and what they don't do), and do your best to do the same.

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Keep It Simple - Day 176

  • Each day presents the chance to overthink things. What should I wear? Do they like me? Am I eating well enough? What's next for me in life? Is my boss happy with my work?
  • Today, let's focus just on what's in front of us. "Do your job."We don't need to get lost in a thousand other distractions or in other people's business.
  • Marcus says to approach each task as if it were your last because it very well could be. And even if it isn't, botching what's right in front of you doesn't help anything. Find clarity in the simplicity of doing your job today.

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You Don't Have To Stay On Top Of Everything - Day 177

  • Most of society seems to have taken it as a commandment that one must know about every single current event, watch every episode of a critically acclaimed series, follow the news regularly, etc.
  • But where is the evidence that this is actually necessary? How much more time, energy, and pure brainpower would you have available if you drastically cut your media consumption? How much more rested and present would you feel if you were no longer excited and outraged by every breaking story of and potential crisis (many of which never come to pass anyway)?

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Philosophy As Medicine Of The Soul - Day 178

  • We're making money and we're stimulated and busy. But the busier we get we drift further and further from philosophy.
  • Eventually, stress builds up, our mind gets clouded and we forget what's important. When that happens it's needful that we tap The breaks - put aside all the momentum and the moment. Return to the practices that we know are rooted in clarity and good judgment.
  • Stoicism is designed to be medicine for the soul. It relieves us of the vulnerabilities of modern life. It restores us with the vigor we need to thrive in life. Check-in with it today, and let it do its healing.

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For The Hot-Headed Man - Day 179

  • Try to remember that anger is not impressive or tough - it's a mistake. It's a weakness. Depending on what you're doing, it might even be a trap that someone laid for you.
  • Fans and opponents call boxer Joe Louis the "Ring Robot" because he was utterly unemotional - his cold, calm demeanor was far more terrifying than any crazed look or emotional outburst would have been.
  • Strength is the ability to maintain a hold of oneself. It's being the person who never gets mad, who cannot be rattled because they are in control of their passions - rather than controlled by their passions.

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A Proper Frame Of Mind - Day 180

  • We resent the person who comes in and tries to boss us around. This is because we are independent, self-sufficient people. Or at least that's what we tell ourselves.
  • Yet if someone says something we disagree with, something inside us tells us we have to argue with them.
  • We would never let another person jerk us around the way we let our impulses do. It's time we start seeing it that way - that we're not puppets that can be made to dance this way or that way just because we feel like it. We should be the ones in control, not our emotions because we are independent, self-sufficient people.

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The Source Of Your Anxiety - Day 181

  • Anxiety surfaces when we're wanting something outside our control. Getting worked up, getting excited, nervously pacing - these intense, pained, and anxious moments show us at our most futile and servile. Staring at the clock, at the sky - it's as if we all belong to a religious cult that believes the gods of fate will only give us what we want if we sacrifice our peace of mind.
  • Today, when you find yourself getting anxious, ask yourself: Why are my insides twisted into knots? Am I in control here or is my anxiety? And most important: Is my anxiety doing me any good?

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On Being Invincible - Day 182

  • "Who then is invincible? The one who cannot be upset by anything outside their reasoned choice." - Epictetus
  • Have you watched a seasoned pro handle the media? They parry every blow with humor, poise, and patience. They always choose not to flinch or react.
  • Our reasoned choice - Our prohairesis, as the Stoics called it - is a kind of invincibility that we can cultivate. We can shrug off hostile attacks and breeze through pressure or problems. And, like our pro, when we finish, we can point back to the crowd and say, "Next!

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Steady Your Impulses - Day 183

  • Think of the maniac people in your life, the ones whose lives and choices are in disorder. Everything is soaring highs or crushing lows; the day is either amazing or awful. Don't you wish they has a filter through which they could test the good impulses versus the bad ones?
  • There is such a filter. Justice. Reason. Philosophy. If there's a central message of Stoic thought, it's this: impulses of all kinds are going to come, and your work is to control them, like bringing a dog to heel. Put simply: think before you act. Ask: Who is in control here? What principles are guiding me?

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Don't Seek Out Strife - Day 184

  • Roosevelt was a truly great man. But he was driven by compulsion, a work and activity addiction that was seeming without end. Many of us share this affliction - being driven by something we can't control. We're afraid of being still, so we seek out strife and action as a distraction. We choose war - when peace is a far more honorable and fitting choice.
  • Yes, the man in the arena is admirable. As is the soldier and the politician and the businesswoman and all the other occupations. But, and this is a big but, only if we're in the arena for the right reasons.

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Fear Is A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy - Day 185

  • The leader convinced that he might be betrayed acts first and betrays others first. Afraid that he's not well-liked he works hard that it has the opposite effect. Convinced of mismanagement, he micromanages and becomes the Source of mismanagement. The things we dread or fear, we blindly inflict on ourselves.
  • The next time you're afraid of some outcome, remember that if you don't control your impulses if you lose your self-control, you may be the very source of the disaster you so fear. It has happened to smarter and more powerful and more successful people. It can happen to us too

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Did That Make You Feel Better? - Day 186

  • The next time someone gets upset near you - crying, yelling, or breaking something, watch how quickly this statement will stop them cold: "I hope this is making you feel better." Because of course, it isn't.
  • It's worth applying that standard to yourself. The next time you find yourself in the middle of a freakout, moaning and groaning with flu-like symptoms, or crying tears of regret, just ask: Is this actually making me feel better? Is this actually relieving any of the symptoms I wish were gone?

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You Don't Have To Have An Opinion - Day 187

  • Think about all the upsetting things you don't know about - people talking behind your back, the valuable things you would've lost without your knowledge. What's your reaction? You don't have one because you don't know about it.
  • It is possible to hold no opinion about a negative thing. Apply this to all scenarios. Practice the ability to have absolutely no thoughts about something - act as if you had no idea it ever occurred. Or that you've never heard of it before. Let it become irrelevant or non-existent to you. It'll be a lot less powerful this way.

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Anger Is Bad Fuel - Day 188

  • As the Stoics have said many times, getting angry almost never solves anything. Usually, it makes things worse. We get upset, then the other person gets upset - now everyone is upset, and the problem is no closer to getting solved.
  • Some say anger is a good fuel. The desire to "prove them all wrong" has made many a millionaire. But those people ignore the side effects and the wear and tear caused by anger. When the initial anger runs out - now more and more must be generated to keep the machine going (until, eventually, the only source left is anger at oneself)

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Hero Or Nero? - Day 189

  • There are kings who are tyrants and like Nero and Domitian. And also there were kings like Marcus Aurelius, a wise philosopher-king.
  • So in fact it looks like it comes down, in any way, to the inner strength and self-awareness of individuals - what they value, what desires they keep in check, whether their understanding of fairness and justice can counteract the temptations of unlimited wealth and difference.
  • The same is true for you. Both personally and professionally. Tyrant or king? Hero or Nero? Which will you be?

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Protect Your Piece Of Mind - Day 190

  • The dysfunctional job that stresses you out, a contentious relationship, life in the spotlight. Why are you subjecting yourself to this? Our adrenal glands can handle only so much before they become exhausted. Shouldn't you preserve them for life-and-death situations?
  • So yes, use Stoicism to manage these difficulties. But don't forget to ask: Is this really the life I want? Every time you get upset, a little bit of life leaves the body. Are these really the things on which you want to spend that priceless resource? Don't be afraid to make a change - a big one.

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Pleasure Can Become Punishment - Day 191

  • Whenever you get an impression of some pleasure, as with any impression, guard yourself against being carried away by it, let it await your action, tube yourself a pause. After that, bring to mind both times, first when you have enjoyed the pleasure and later when you will regret it and hate yourself.
  • Then compare to those the joy and satisfaction you'd feel for abstaining altogether. However, if a seemingly appropriate time arises to act on it, don't be overcome by its comfort, pleasantness, and allure - but against all of this, how much better the consciousness of conquering it.

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Think Before You Act - Day 192

  • Why did I do that? You've probably asked yourself. We all have. How could I have been so stupid? What was I thinking?
  • You weren't. That's the problem. Within that head of yours is all the reason and intelligence you need. It's making sure that it's deferred to and utilized that's the tough part. It's making sure that your mind is in charge, not your emotions, not your immediate physical sensations, not your surging hormones.
  • Fix your attention on your intelligence. Let it do its thing.

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Only Bad Dreams - Day 193

  • Many of the things that upset us are a product of the imagination, not reality. They are vivid and realistic at the time like dreams. We don't stop and say: "Does this make any sense?". No, we go along with it. The same goes with our flights of anger or fear or other extreme emotions.
  • Getting upset is like continuing the dream while you're awake. The thing that provoked you wasn't real - but your reaction was. And so from the fake comes real consequences. Which is why you need to wake up right now instead of creating a nightmare.

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Don't Make Things Harder Than They Need To Be - Day 194

  • Imagine working with a frustrating boss. If you could step back and see, you'd probably see that not everything he's asking for is unreasonable. In fact, some of it is pretty easy to do or is, at least agreeable. And if you did it, it might make the rest of the tasks a bit more tolerable.
  • Life (and our job) is difficult enough. Let's not make it harder by getting emotional about insignificant matters or digging in for battles we don't actually care about. Let's not let emotion get in the way of "kathekon", the simple, appropriate actions on the path to virtue.

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The Enemy Of Happiness - Day 195

  • I'll be happy when I graduate when I get this promotion when I do this or that. Psychologists call this conditional happiness. Like the horizon, you can walk for miles but you'll never reach it.
  • Eagerly anticipating some future event, passionately imagining something you desire, looking forward to some happy scenario - as pleasurable as these activities might seem, they ruin your chance at happiness here and now. Locate the yearning for more, better, someday and see it for what it is: the enemy of your contentment. Choose it or your happiness, because these two are not compatible.

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Prepare For The Storm - Day 196

  • Today, we have forecasters and experts who can fairly accurately predict storm patterns. Today, we're defenseless against a hurricane only if we refuse to prepare or heed the warnings.
  • If we don't have a plan, if we never learned how to put up the storm windows, we will be at the mercy of these external - and internal - elements. We're still puny human beings compared with one hundred miles per hour winds, but we have the advantage of being able to prepare - being able to struggle against them in a new way.

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The Banquet Of Life - Day 197

  • Remember to conduct yourself in life as if at a banquet. As something being passed around comes to you, reach out your hand and take a moderate helping. Does it pass you by? Don't stop it. It hasn't yet come? Don't burn desire for it, but wait until it arrives in front of you. Act this way with children, a spouse, toward position, with wealth - one day it will make you worthy of a banquet with the gods.

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The Grand Parade Of Desire - Day 198

  • It's never great to judge other people, but it's worth taking a second to investigate how a life dedicated to indulging every whim actually works out.
  • Ever wonder what God thinks of money? Just look at the people he gives it to. The same goes for pleasure. Look how quickly the partying of a young starlet turns to drug addiction and a stalled cancer.
  • Ask yourself: Is that really worth it? Is it really that pleasurable?
  • Consider that when you crave something or contemplate indulging in a "harmless" vice.

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Wish Not, Want Not - Day 199

  • Remember that it's not only the desire for wealth and position that debates and subjugates us, but also the desire for peace, leisure, travel, and learning. It doesn't matter what the external thing is, the value we place on it subjugates us to another... where our heart is set, there our impediment lies.
  • Because fate can always intervene and then we'll likely lose our self-control in response.
  • When it comes to your goals and the things you strive for, ask yourself: Am I in control of them, or are they in control of me?

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What's Better Left Unsaid - Day 199

  • It's easy to act - to just dive in. It's harder to stop, to pause, to think.
  • As Cato entered politics, many expected swift and great things from him. He was aware of this pressure - a pressure that exists on all of us at all times - and resisted.
  • Instead, he waited and prepared. He parsed his own thoughts, made sure he was not reacting emotionally, selfishly, ignorantly, or prematurely. Only then he would speak - when he was confident that his words were worthy of being heard.
  • To do this requires awareness. It requires us to stop and evaluate ourselves honestly. Can you do that?

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Circumstances Have No Care For Our Feelings - Day 200

"You shouldn't give circumstances the power to rouse anger, for they don't care at all" - Marcus Aurelius

  • Marcus was reminding himself: circumstances are incapable of considering or caring for your feelings, your anxiety, or your excitement. They don't care about your reaction. They are not people. So stop acting like getting worked up is having an impact on a given situation. Situations don't care at all.

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The Real Source Of Harm - Day 201

  • Our reaction is what actually decides whether harm has occurred. If we feel that we've been wronged and get angry, of course, that's how it will seem. If we raise our voice because we feel we're being confronted, naturally a confrontation will ensue.
  • But if we retain control of ourselves, we decide whether to label something good or bad. In fact, if that same event happened to us at different points in our lifetime, we might have very different reactions. So why not choose now to not apply these labels? Why not choose not to react?

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The Smoke And Dust Of Myth - Day 202

  • Marcus Aurelius constantly points out how the emperors who came before him were barely remembered just a few years later.
  • The same goes for those driven to the heights of hate or anger or obsession or perfection. Alexander the great - one of the most ambitious and passionate men - was buried in the same ground as his mule driver. Eventually, all of us will pass away and slowly be forgotten. We should enjoy this brief time we have on earth - not be enslaved to emotions that make us miserable and dissatisfied.

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To Each His Own - Day 203

  • Abraham Lincoln got fuming mad with a subordinate. Rather than taking it out on that person directly, he'd write a long letter, outlining his case why they were wrong. Then he would fold it up, put the letter in the desk drawer, and never send it.
  • He knew, that it was easy to fight back. It's tempting to give them a piece of your mind. But you almost always end up with regret. You almost always wish you hadn't sent that letter. Think of the last time you flew off the handle. What was the outcome? Was there any benefit?

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Cultivating Indifference Where Others Grow Passion - Day 204

  • Seneca was a Stoic. He had many material things, yet, as the Stoics say, he was also indifferent to them. He enjoyed them while they were there, but he accepted that they might someday disappear. What better attitude than desperately craving more or fearfully dreading losing even one penny. Indifference is a solid middle ground.
  • It's not about avoidance or shunning, but rather not giving any possible outcome more power or preference than is appropriate. This is not easy to do, certainly, but if you could manage, how much more relaxed would you be?

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When You Lose Control - Day 205

  • You messed up a little. Or maybe you messed up a lot.
  • So? That doesn't change the philosophy that you know. It's not as if your reasoned choice has permanently abandoned you. Rather, it was you who temporarily abandoned it.
  • Remember that the tools and aims of our training are unaffected by the turbulence of the moment. Stop, regain your composure. It's waiting for you.

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Where Philosophy Begins - Day 206

  • Philosophy is intimidating. Where does one start? With books? With lectures? With selling worldly possessions?
  • Epictetus is saying that one becomes a philosopher when they begin to exercise their guiding reason and start to question the emotions and beliefs that others take for granted. Perhaps we could say that we begin our journey into philosophy when we become aware of the ability to analyze our own minds.
  • Can you start with that step today? When you do not want you'll find that from it we really come alive, that we live lives - to paraphrase Socrates - that is actually worth living.

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Accurate Self-Assessment - Day 207

  • Most people resist the idea of a true self estimate probably because they fear it might mean downgrading some of their beliefs about who they are and what they're capable of. Don't fear self-assessment. It's equally damaging to value yourself at less than your true worth.
  • We underestimate our capabilities just as much and just as dangerous as we overestimate other abilities. Cultivate the ability to judge yourself accurately and honestly. Look inward to discern what you're capable of and what it will take to unlock that potential.

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(Dis)Integration - Day 208

We're all complicated people. We have multiple sides to ourselves - conflicting wants to be desires, and fears. The outside world is no less confusing and contradictory. If we're not careful, all these forces - pushing and pulling - will eventually tear us apart.

We have a choice: to stand with the philosopher and focus strenuously on the inside of the or to behave like a leader of a mob, becoming whatever the crowd needs at a given moment.

If we do not focus on our internal integration - on self-awareness - we risk external disintegration.

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Awareness Is Freedom - Day 209

  • Seneca observes how often powerful people are slaves to their money, positions, mistress, etc. We see this slavery all the time - a codependent person who can't help but clean up after a dysfunctional friend, a boss who micromanages employees and sweats every penny. The countless causes, events, and get-togethers we're too busy to attend but agree to anyway.
  • Take an inventory of your obligations from time to time. How many of these are self-imposed? How many of them are truly necessary? Are you as free as you think?

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Cutting Back On The Costly - Day 210

  • Seneca is making a point that goes unheard in a society or ever bigger houses and ever more possessions: that there's a hidden cost to all that accumulating. And the sooner we're aware of it, the better.
  • Remember: even what we get for free has a cost, if only in what we pay to store it - in our garages and in our minds. As you walk past your possessions today, ask yourself: Do I need this? Is it superfluous? What's this actually worth? What is it costing me?
  • You might be surprised by the answers and how much we've been paying without even knowing it.

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Don't Tell Yourself Stories - Day 211

  • Epictetus points out, there is no reason to tell stories about your past. It's boring, annoying, and self-absorbed. It might make you feel good to dominate the conversation and make it all about you, but how do you think it is for everyone else? Do you think people are really enjoying your life's highlights?
  • Try your best not to create this fantasy bubble - live in what's real. Listen and connect with people, don't perform for them

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Don't Trust The Senses - Day 212

  • Self-awareness is the ability to objectively evaluate the self, to question our own instincts, patterns, and assumptions. But even our own eyes deceive us.
  • I can't even trust my own senses? Because our senses are often wrong, our emotions overly alarmed, our projections overly optimistic, were better off not rushing to conclusions about anything. We can take a beat with everything we do and become aware of everything that's going on so we can make the right decision.

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Don't Unintentionally Hand Over Your Freedom - Day 213

  • Instinctively, we protect our physical selves. We don't let people touch us, push us, control where we go. But when it comes to the mind, we're less disciplined. We hand it over willingly to social media, to television, to what other people are doing, thinking, or saying.
  • We don't realize how much waste is in it, how inefficient and distracted it makes us.
  • To the Stoics, this is an abomination. The mind is ours. We must protect it. Maintain control over your mind and perceptions, they'd say. It's your most prized possession.

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Find The Right Scene - Day 214

  • Consciously consider whom you allow into your life - like someone who is trying to cultivate the best life possible. Ask yourself about the people you meet and spend time with: Are they making me better? Do they encourage me to push forward or do they drag me down to their level? Now, with this in mind, ask the question: Should I spend more or less time with these folks?

"Tell me with whom you consort and I will tell you who you are." - Goethe

"If I know how you spend your time, then I know what might become of you." - Goethe

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Find Yourself A Cato - Day 215

  • Seneca tells us that we should each have our own Cato - a great and noble person we can allow into our minds and use to guide our actions. It doesn't have to be an actual person, just someone who, like Seneca said, can stand witness to our behavior. Someone who can quietly admonish us if we are considering doing something lazy, dishonest, or selfish.
  • And if we do it right, and live our lives in such a way, perhaps we can serve as someone else's Cato when they need it.

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Living Without Restriction - Day 216

  • Take a look at some of the powerful, rich people. Look at what success has cost them. Mostly? Freedom.
  • Their work demands they wear a suit. It will require - inevitably - realizing they are unable to say what they actually think. Worse, it demands that they become a different person.
  • Sure, it might pay well - but they haven't truly examined the transaction. As Seneca put it, "Slavery resides under marble and gold." Too many successful people are prisoners in jails of their own making. Is that what you want? Is that what you're working hard toward? Let's hope not.

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Seeing Things As The Person At Fault Does - Day 217

  • Socrates used to say that "nobody does wrong willingly." Meaning that no one is wrong on purpose either. Nobody thinks they're wrong, even when they are. They think they're right, they're just mistaken. Otherwise, they wouldn't think it anymore.
  • How much more tolerant and understanding would you be today if you could see the actions of other people as attempts to do the right thing? Whether you agree or not, how radically would this lens change your perspective on otherwise offensive or belligerent actions?

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One Day It Will All Make Sense - Day 218

  • Part of the reason we fight against the things that happen is that we're so focused on our plan that we forget that there might be a bigger plan we don't know about. Plenty of times, something we thought was a disaster turned out to be, a lucky break?
  • This sense of being wrong is a simple awareness problem. We need to remember that all things are guided by reason - but that it is a vast and universal reason that we cannot always see. The misfortune we have experienced is simply the prelude to a pleasant and enviable future.

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Self Deception Is Our Enemy - Day 219

  • Self-deception and ego are the sworn enemy of our ability to learn and grow. We will be unable to improve, to learn, to earn the respect of others if we think we're already perfect, a genius admired far and wide.
  • In this sense, ego and self-deception are the enemies of the things we wish to have because we delude ourselves into believing that we already possess them.
  • So we must meet ego with the hostility and contempt that it insidiously deploys against us - to keep it away, if only for twenty-four hours at a time.

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The Present Is All We Possess - Day 220

  • Today, notice how often you look for more. That is, wanting the past to be more than what it was (different, better, still here) or wanting the future to unfold exactly as you expect (with hardly a thought as to how that might affect other people).
  • When you do this, you're neglecting the present moment. Talk about ungratefulness. This present is in our possession - but it has an expiration date, a quickly approaching one. If you enjoy all of it, it will be enough. It can last a whole lifetime.

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That Sacred Part Of You - Day 221

  • That fact that you can think, read this thought, able to reason things - all of this is what gives you the ability to improve your circumstances and become better. It's important to appreciate this because it's a genuine ability.
  • Take a little time today to remember that you're blessed with the capacity to use logic and reason to navigate situations and circumstances. This gives you the unthinkable power to alter your circumstances and the circumstances of others. And remember that with power comes great responsibility.

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The Beauty Of Choice - Day 222

"You are not your body and hairstyle, but your capacity for choosing well. If your choices are beautiful, so too will you be." - Epictetus

  • You might look beautiful today, but if that was the result of vain obsession in the mirror this morning, the Stoics would ask, are you actually beautiful? A body built from hard work is admirable. A body built to impress gym rats is not.
  • That's what the Stoics urge us to consider. Not how things appear, but what effort, activity, and choices they are a result of.

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CURATED BY

alfredmaxwell

When you want something, the whole universe conspires in helping you achieve it :)

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