The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday is a page-a-day book that provides bite-sized stoicism for each day of the year. Ryan breaks down quotes and philosophies from the ancient stoics in a way anyone can understand and apply to their own lives. I’ve read this book every day for about 2 years, and it has totally changed my life. It’s now a must-have part of my morning routine!
If you aren’t familiar, stoicism by definition is “a systematic philosophy, dating from around 300 b.c., that held the principles of logical thought to reflect a cosmic reason instantiated in nature.” It meditates on the ability to endure pain and struggle without displaying emotion or suffering, and asks you to take control of your responses and reactions. Ultimately, it’s the ability to accept responsibility for your emotions and your mindset so you can leverage them in your life.
The philosophies of the ancient stoics are basically timeless — sometimes I catch myself reading through a lesson and feeling it was written just for me. The actionable advice is still applicable even in today’s society, showing how tried-and-true it actually is. Of all the things I’ve carried with me from The Daily Stoic, there are 5 life lessons that I want to share with you.
5 Life Lessons of The Daily Stoic
1. No matter what happens, your reaction is always within your control.
“Understand at last that you have something in you more powerful and divine than what causes the bodily passions and pulls you like a mere puppet.”
One of the most important factors of a stoic mindset is the ability to control your reaction. No matter the situation, the way you respond to it is always within your realm of control.
It’s easy to let your emotions get the best of you. Sometimes you get angry, you get upset, you want to yell or curse or even cry. We’ve all been there, and just because it isn’t productive doesn’t mean it isn’t normal. These reactions, however, may feel good in the moment, but they’re exhausting. They don’t move you forward. And they certainly don’t shift you into the mindset of stoicism.
Next time something happens and a challenge arises, try to remain calm. It may take practice, but work towards the ability to collect yourself and react calmly or not at all. The way you respond to tough situations will either hold you back or push you forward, so help yourself make progress by taking things in stride. After all, there’s no use crying over spilled milk!
2. You are not more special than others, even as you become more stoic.
“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.”
— Marcus Aurelius
In order to live a productive life, it’s crucial that you learn to stop comparing yourself to others. No one is more or less special that anyone else. Even as you level up your mindset and learn more about the stoics, you are not more special than those around you.
Treat every person with respect. Honor them, and give of yourself as you would wish to receive. We are all equal as human beings in this world, and we’ve gotta help each other out sometimes. No matter where you are in your journey of stoicism, be humble and create connections with the people around you.
Pro tip: while it is crucial to respect and acknowledge others so you can continue to build valuable connections, do not lean too heavily on external opinions or outside approval. The mindset of a stoic cannot be shaken by petty criticisms of others, so be mindful of the weight you allow opinions to hold. In the end, it is your opinion of yourself that matters the most, so be unapologetically you!
3. It’s okay to slip up. Don’t put false meaning on something you can simply grow and move on from.
“Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will—then your life will flow well.”
Though they may feel pretty bad sometimes, mistakes are not the end of the world. Too often, we get caught up in our failures. We ruminate on them, wallow in them, and use them as excuses. They drag us down and prevent us from moving forward towards our goals.
When you make a mistake, ask yourself what you can learn from the situation. Take that advice and move on. Don’t over-apologize, don’t second-guess yourself, just move on.
One of the best ways to roll with the punches and take things as they come is ditching the word ‘should’. If you believe something should have happened another way, you should have done something different, you should be in a different place in your life right now, everything begins to feel like a mistake.
There is no ‘should be.’ There is only what actually is.
Don’t give meaning to a ‘should be’. Simply grow from what is, and move on to what’s next.
4. Someone has been in your situation before. Learn from them.
“Let us meet with bravery whatever may befall us. Let us never feel a shudder at the thought of being wounded or of being made a prisoner, or of poverty or persecution.“
No matter the struggle, you are never alone. Someone has been in your place before and there is always something you can learn from them.
We often convince ourselves that our problems are unique, that no one could possibly understand because our struggles are special. Though your situation is indeed important and worthy of addressing, it’s not special. It’s normal. And luck you — that makes it so much easier to solve.
You can always ask for help. When you face a challenge, know that there is always someone somewhere that you can turn to. Face your struggles with bravery knowing that someone has made it through your situation, and you can seek out the guidance you need for success.
5. Be in the present moment so you can always connect to your stoic philosophies.
“Life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future.”
The only way to truly connect with a stoic mindset and put the philosophies into action is by living each day in the present moment. If you dwell in the past, no progress can ever be made, and nothing can ever be changed. If you are paralyzed by fear of the future, you can’t make the moves to set yourself up for success. The only place in time where you can do the work that matters is here, in the present.
We are only given so much time. It is a gift, and we can’t bargain for more. Live each moment without fear of what’s to come so you can make the most of your life. Time spent worrying about the future is time wasted — and you can’t get it back. Use every second to its fullest potential so you can create the life you want.
QOTD: Do you practice stoicism? What habits help you keep a stoic mindset?