Life Lessons Learned from the Stoics

I love reading wisdom from the Stoics, some knowledge is just timeless and is helpful even today.

Life Lessons Learned from the Stoics

Hey Friends 👋,

The Stoics were a group of philosophers who lived in Ancient Greece and Rome.

They were known for their practical wisdom and their focus on leading a virtuous life. Their teachings have inspired people for thousands of years, and their ideas are still relevant today.

“If the topic is about how to live a better life or what the principles of wealth and happiness are, then the time horizon shouldn't matter all that much. Wisdom that survives decades or centuries is probably a good bet."

Naval Ravikant

I personally keep a copy of The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday on my desk. I read it every day before starting work, and it always gives me something to ponder. It is amazing that those that lived hundreds and even thousands of years before us had similar worries and concerns.

Focus on What’s in Your Control

“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.”

Epictetus

One of the Stoics' key teachings was to focus on what’s in your control. You can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can control how you respond to it.

By accepting things as they are and focusing on what’s in your control, you can live a more peaceful and fulfilling life. If you manage to accept what happens then the next stage is to enjoy what happens even if everything doesn’t go to plan.

It is mostly in your head

“There is nothing so certain in our fears that’s not yet more certain in the fact that most of what we dread comes to nothing.”

Seneca

A lot of us have irrational fears that cripple us from pursuing our dreams. This fear of what might happen usually stops anything from actually happening.

In most cases, the outcome is never going to be as bad as you imagine. The Stoica believed that most of the things that upset us are a product of our imagination.

Practice Self-Awareness

“An important place to begin in philosophy is this: a clear perception of one’s own ruling principle.”

Epictetus

The Stoics valued self-awareness and introspection. They believed that by examining your thoughts and emotions, you can gain greater control over them.

You can live a more intentional and fulfilling life by developing a deeper understanding of yourself.

Embrace Impermanence

“In short, you must remember this - that if you hold anything dear outside of your own reasoned choice, you will have destroyed your capacity for choice.”

Epictetus

The Stoics believed that nothing is permanent and that all things are subject to change. By embracing impermanence, we can learn to appreciate the present moment and let go of attachment to things that will inevitably pass away.

Nothing lasts forever and as soon as you can accept that then the more resilient we become.

Choose Your Words Carefully

“Speech is the mirror of the soul; as a man speaks, so is he.”

Publilius Syrus

The Stoics placed a high value on the power of language. They believed that the words we choose to speak can profoundly impact ourselves and others.

By deciding our words carefully and speaking with intention, we can create a more positive and meaningful life.

Practice Gratitude

“Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.”

Marcus Aurelius

The Stoics believed in cultivating a sense of gratitude and appreciation for what we have. By focusing on our blessings and the positive aspects of our lives, we can cultivate a more joyful and contented attitude.

Accept Criticism Gracefully

“Keep in mind that it isn’t the one who has it in for you and takes a swipe that harms you, but rather the harm comes from your own belief about the abuse. So when someone arouses your anger, know that it’s really your own opinion fueling it. Instead, make it your first response not to be carried away by such impressions, for with time and distance self-mastery is more easily achieved.”

Epictetus

Criticism affects us differently depending on whom it came from. Angry words from a troll on the internet do not hurt as much as harsh words from a loved one.

It isn’t who voiced the criticism that is the issue, but your reaction to it. It is better to control your reaction, so you can decide if something is good or bad, rather than your emotions.

Cultivate Inner Peace

“He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.”

Marcus Aurelius

The Stoics taught that by cultivating inner peace, we can achieve a state of harmony with the world around us.

This isn’t difficult to see when you look around. Those that aren’t at inner peace with themselves after often the ones taking their anger out on others.

Find Joy in the Journey

“Those obsessed with glory attach their well-being to the regard of others, those who love pleasure tie it to feelings, but the one with true understanding seeks it only in their own actions. . . . Think on the character of the people one wishes to please, the possessions one means to gain, and the tactics one employs to such ends. How quickly time erases such things, and how many will yet be wiped away.”

Marcus Aurelius

We have a habit of setting goals for our lives. This might be getting to a certain salary or job title, or owning a large house or fast car.

Most of these things however are outside our control. If we do manage to achieve them, they never give us the satisfaction that we had hoped. The key is to enjoy the journey, enjoy the work, not the outcome.

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💬 Quote of the Week

When you feel like you’ve learned whatever there is to learn from what you’re doing, it’s time to change course and find something new to learn so that you can move forward.

From Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. Resurfaced with Readwise.