it’s a philosophy designed to make us more resilient, happier, more virtuous and wiser–and as a result, better people, better parents and better professionals. Sounds a bit utopic? Maybe it is, but it helped me early in my personal life and career. I first heard of it by, again, Tim Ferriss and all his guests reading it. Famous leaders have been practising and shaping it, such as Marcus Aurelius, the emperor of Rome, Theodore Roosevelt, Epictetus, Seneca, to name a few.
philosophy as medicine for the soul
Don’t return to philosophy as a task-master, but as patients seek out relief in a treatment of sore eyes, or a dressing for a burn, or from an ointment. Regarding it this way, you’ll obey reason without putting it on display and rest easy in its care.” —MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 5.9.
The busier we get, the more we work and learn and read, the further we may drift. We get in a rhythm. We’re making money, being creative, and we’re stimulated and busy. It seems like everything is going well. But we drift further and further from philosophy.
Eventually this neglect will contribute to a problem—the stress builds up, our mind gets cloudy, we forget what’s important—and result in an injury of some kind. When that happens, it’s important that we tap the brakes—put aside all the momentum and the moment. Return to the regimen and practices that we know are rooted in clarity, good judgment, good principles, and good health.
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. Source: The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman
I got hooked when I read my all-time favourite book The Daily Stoic (366 Meditations) - Ryan Holidays, which makes it easier for people new to it. Quotes such as focusing on what’s in your control are stayed strong until today:
The chief task in life is simply this: to Identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I control… — Epictetus
I practise this every day. For example, with COVID-19, we can’t control it, no cursing, no ignoring will ever make it away. So the only way is to control ourselves and decide how we want to react to it. It’s another classic one, but many people face it twice a day and valuable waste energy in traffic when they get angry at other drivers. Why? Does it make any of it go away? Not really.
Instead, I try to think for myself that these people we get angry at just having an emergency, maybe they are on the way to the hospital. If thinking it in that way, at least to me, I’m not even mad at them anymore. The same goes for the weather. How many people are in a bad mood if the weather is not as the weather forecast proclaimed, or if it’s just bad? Next time, try not to think you can control the outcome; instead, maintain your reaction towards it by not getting angry or just staying calm.
This book is so powerful that I always have it on my phone, and at least once a week, I listen to two or three chapters. As the title says 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living, is applied meditation to me. By doing so, I’m always more calm and more understanding of my outside world and things I can’t control.
Read all and more about it in the book or on Daily Stoic Blogs.
# 4 Virtues of Stoicism