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How to Change Your Life

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Daily Stoic

It was today in 1965 that Malcolm X was gunned down while delivering a speech in a New York City ballroom. Perhaps the most controversial of the Civil Rights leaders, Malcolm was a complicated man. His early life was defined by crime, liqueur and violence and it was a story that ended, as it ends for so many, in a prison cell.

But in that cell, Malcolm Little, as he was then called, picked up a book…and then another book…and then another. “People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book,” he would say later. In fact, he would come to refer to “books” rather than college as his “alma mater.”

We don’t know if Malcolm read the Stoics as some Civil Rights leaders did, but we know that he drank deeply from history and philosophy and religion and as a result, he came to at least one conclusion that sounds like it could have come from Marcus or Seneca or Epictetus.

“There is no better than adversity,” he said. “Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance next time.”

It’s true. The impediment to action advances action. The obstacle is the way.

We need to understand this simple but completely counterintuitive idea, and then we need to impute it onto our DNA and mind. Because, to paraphrase Malcolm, when we change our philosophy we change our attitude and when we change our attitude, we change our actions.

And then, as he did, we can change ourselves and change the world.

P.S. Our “The Obstacle Is the Way” print is made in collaboration with renowned artist Joey Roth and is inspired by the cult Stoic classic The Obstacle Is the Way. Discover more and order yours now.

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Daily Stoic

Thanks to Daily Stoic for sharing…

Epictetus reminds us: “It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”

He tells us that this is the “first task” of philosophy: to get rid of our preconceptions, to do away with the dogmas we have in our heads. Be humble. Be open to things you don’t know, or things that challenge what you do know.

Emerson talked about the advantage of a life of humility in his memorable line: “In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.”…

Humility is an easy virtue to talk about—and a much harder one to put into practice. We don’t want to seem stupid. We don’t like saying, “I don’t know” or “You might have a point.” Harder still: “Maybe I’m wrong? Maybe I have more to learn?”  But it’s this attitude that leads to change and improvement. So give it a try. You can’t get better if you think you’re superior.

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