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

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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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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 guidi...

  • 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 abjec...

"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 anyo...

  • 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 s...

  • 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 cou...

  • 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...

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 excus...

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...

"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 thei...

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

  • 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 giv...

"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 cowar...

  • 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.
  • ...

  • 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 f...

"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 critica...

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 ...

  • 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 n...

  • 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 rar...

"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 ...

  • 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...

"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 the...

  • 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...

  • 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 cen...

  • 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 idl...

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...

"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 tranquil...

  • 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 onl...

  • 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...

"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 ...

"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 sentenc...

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.

  • 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'...

  • 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 ne...

  • 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...

  • 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 i...

  • 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 seven...

"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.
  • ...

  • 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? ...

"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 bo...

"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 ...

  • 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 b...

"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...

  • 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 co...

  • 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 ...

  • 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...

  • 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.

  • 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 w...

  • 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, confusi...

  • 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.

"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 wh...

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 s...

  • 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 train...

"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 pote...

  • "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. ...

  • 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 ...

"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, bu...

  • 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 sp...

  • 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...

  • 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 coun...

"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 be...

"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 u...

  • "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, ...

  • 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 a...

  • 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 tha...

  • 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...

"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 b...

  • 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 tho...

"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. ...

  • 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, ...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 p...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 w...

"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 s...

  • 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 drinkin...

  • 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...

  • 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...

"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 ...

  • 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," E...

  • 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...

  • 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! I...

"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 some...

  • 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 i...

  • 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 impo...

  • 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 r...

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 t...

  • 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 t...

"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 r...

  • 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...

  • 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, be...

  • 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 sch...

  • 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 lik...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 l...

  • 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 com...

  • 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 kn...

"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 co...

  • 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...

  • 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 ...

  • 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...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 th...

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 understan...

"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 ric...

"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 sympathe...

  • 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. T...

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 tot...

  • 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. So...

"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 pre...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

"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...

"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

    ...

  • 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 phys...

  • 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 t...

  • 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 base...

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 no...

"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 int...

  • 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.

"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. Thi...

  • 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 - ...

  • 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 c...

"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...

  • 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...

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. Y...

  • 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 s...

  • 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...

"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 ...

"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 with...

"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 u...

  • 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 rand...

  • 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 wit...

"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 a...

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 tha...

  • 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 fro...

  • 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 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: Wh...

  • 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 ...

  • 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.

  • 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 ce...

  • 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 hav...

  • 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...

  • 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 mor...

  • 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 yours...

  • 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 o...

"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 fo...

  • 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.

  • 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 feel...

  • 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 unsuspectin...

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 i...

  • 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...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 resu...

  • 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 ho...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 l...

  • 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 som...

  • 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. ...

  • 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 ev...

  • 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.

  • 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 ...

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, ...

  • 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...

"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 ...

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Stoicism, a 3rd-century philosophy from Athens and later Rome,  is a pragmatic, realistic and practical way of addressing life's problems.

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