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The way to to have the best life ever according to Epictetus

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The way to to have the best life ever according to Epictetus was simple. “Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would,” he wrote, “but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will—then your life will be serene.” Friedrich Nietzsche built off the Stoics 1800 years later when he defined his formula human greatness as Amor Fati.

That one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backwards, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it….but love it.”

Amor Fati translates to “a love of fate.” Instead of wishing for things to be different, to be better, you wish them to be as they are, embrace them and make everything you can out of them. A weaker person needs things to be a certain way. The truly unstoppable person loves it all because it’s fuel for them…

Mindfulness Quotes

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Good Wednesday, so I’m practicing mindfulness and it seems to be helping a little. I like the act of looking in the present, instead of my crazy past. I’m new to it, but thought I would leave some mindful quotes to end the day with!! Maybe you can stick these on notes along with your […]

“In today’s rush, we all think too much–seek too much–want too–and forget about the jy of just being”-Eckhart Tolle

“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.”-Pema Chodron

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”-Thich Nhat Hanh

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath”-Amit Ray

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via Mindfulness Quotes!! — blackgirldown. com™

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.

Always Room to Improve

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Daily Stoic

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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.

The Philosophy Of Stoicism: Five Lessons from Seneca, Musonius Rufus, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Zeno of Citium.

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Daily Stoic

Source: The Philosophy Of Stoicism: Five Lessons from Seneca, Musonius Rufus, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Zeno of Citium.

Below is a guest post from Philip Ghezelbash, as he offered to share five of the most important lessons he took away from Stoicism. Enjoy!

1. Live Every Day As If It Were Your Last

Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher. He once said:

“You live as if you were destined to live forever, no thought of your frailty ever enters your head, of how much time has already gone by you take no heed. You squander time as if you drew from a full and abundant supply, though all the while that day which you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last.”

Death doesn’t make life pointless, death makes life worth living. The world keeps spinning when you’re gone and so many of us live life with an attitude which represents the arrogant thought that we are destined to live forever…

When you wake up, pretend today is your last day and live life as you would in this circumstance.

2. Food Is the Best Test Of Self-Control

Food is the best test of self-control and temperance because it’s presented to us every single day and in the modern world at any hour of the day.

Musonius Rufus was a Roman Stoic philosopher who in his two part discourse on food said:

“That God who made man provided him food and drink for the sake of preserving his life and not for giving him pleasure, one can see very well from this: when food is performing its real function, it does not produce pleasure for man, that is in the process of digestion and assimilation.”

Although the pleasure of food is experienced on the tongue, it’s clear that the purpose of food is revealed when it assimilates with the body through digestion.

The lesson here is similar to what Socrates once said which is that we should eat to live rather than live to eat.

3. Failure Is Natural, Regret Is Foolish

Marcus Aurelius was emperor of Rome. His untitled writing, commonly known as Meditations is an important source of Stoic philosophy.

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

He means that everything, no matter whether it is good or bad is an opportunity to practice virtue.  Don’t be surprised by failure, expect it, in fact, embrace it and seek after obstacles in your life which seem uncomfortable…

Epictetus is famous for what he called the dichotomy of control which describes what is in our control.  We can apply this to failure.

The moment you start to regret something in the past you’re fundamentally acting against something which is out of your control and so there’s no practical reward from doing so only frustration and anger.

We should learn from the past and our failures, but to regret, to ponder and to revisit our previous attempts and then look at present with disdain is a crime to your character.

4. Focus on The Small Things

Zeno of Citium was the founder of Stoicism, described as living an ascetic life. He once said that:

“Well-being is attained by little and little, and nevertheless is no little thing itself.”

The idea is basically that one must never underestimate the small things in life, because who’s to say that the small things don’t define the larger and seemingness more important parts of life? They do…

It’s easy to look at other people’s successes and pin them down to luck or good fortunate when in reality it was the small “insignificant” things done consistently which defined their successes.

Don’t place your satisfaction on big goals and dreams, place your satisfaction on small wins.

5.  Throw Away Vanity

Epictetus was born a slave in what we call Turkey today; he lived in Rome, was then banished and spent the rest of his life in Greece. He said:

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

When you wish to pursue philosophy and therefore any subject of interest to you, you must throw away conceit and excessive pride before you begin.

Be willing to learn, be willing to listen, be willing to leave your ego aside to learn, evolve and develop through the wisdom of others and through embracing the joy of ignorance.

As the Socratic paradox goes: “I know that I know nothing”

***

Philip is a health nut, writer and a certified personal trainer. His mission is to close the gap between health and philosophy. He is the upcoming author of the book The Stoic Body. What he is striving to do is combine the seemingly unrelated fields of nutrition and health in with the philosophical world and in particular, Stoicism.Subscribe to Philip’s YouTube channel here. You can also join the Stoic Body Facebook group here.

 

Daily Stoic

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Daily Stoic

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In America [and Europe], it’s Halloween, which is a fun holiday for children. In Mexico, however, it is the beginning of Día de los Muertos, a much more adult and philosophical holiday. All throughout Mexico, people will gather not to eat candy but to celebrate and remember their friends and family who have died. It is, in a sense, a three day commemoration of the idea of memento moria kind of collective bereavement mixed with the fun of a jazz funeral.

The great Montaigne would tell of a story that had trickled back to him from the New World, of an ancient drinking game where the members took turns holding up a painting of a corpse inside a coffin and cheered “Drink and be merry for when you’re dead you will look like this.” This cheeky but also profound observation captures the spirit of Día de los Muertos quite well with imagery of skulls and skeletons, the makeup and the music and the dancing, the praying and the altars set up to honor those who have left.

It might seem strange to celebrate death in this way, and stranger still to involve children in it. But is it really that stranger than banishing any thought of death from our lives and letting it return to us only as a dreaded nightmare? There is real value in taking time to process and grieve and dance with the morbidity of our mortality, of creating a ritual that allows us to come to terms with this essential part of our existence. Better to be on good terms with death and to schedule an annual check up than to be surprised and shocked by this enemy we pretend doesn’t exist.

So drink and be merry today and celebrate the day of the dead. Say goodbye to the people you have lost and enjoy the people you are lucky enough to still have with you. That’s all we can do.

***

P.S. For more ways to keep Stoic principles in mind as you navigate your day, check out our Daily Stoic Store. It features our popular amor fati and memento mori medallions, Marcus Aurelius print, and more. Also, The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living is available everywhere books are sold.

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Daily Stoic

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There is a wonderful interview with David Letterman from earlier this year, where he talks about some of the transgressive policies aimed at transgendered people in America. He said,

Look, you’re a human, I’m a human. We’re breathing the same air. We have the same problems. We’re trying to get through our day. Who the fuck are you to throw a log in the road of somebody who has a different set of difficulties in life?

Which is a very Stoic way to look at just about every contentious issue in today’s culture regardless of whatever political, religious or scientific mindset you adhere to. Far left or far right, creationist or scientist, it doesn’t matter what your opinion of transgendered people, or immigrants, an opioid-addicted kid in Ohio happens to be or why you think they got where they are. The Stoic approach would be to say: We’re all humans. We all struggle and those people are almost certainly struggling harder than me. Why would we spend our time legislating or pontificating about their issues when we have our own, right here, that we haven’t dealt with? Why would I actively try to make their lives harder?

The Stoics held strongly to the idea of sympatheia, the interconnection between all species, people and universes. They believe we were all the same, all struggling under different versions of the same logos which assigned unique roles and trials for us all. Who are we to make other people’s fates harder? Who are we to punish other people for things they don’t control—for things that have nothing to do with their behavior?

Don’t throw a log in front of someone else. Leave them alone. Or better, do the Stoic thing—offer a hand.

P.S. For more ways to keep Stoic principles in mind as you navigate your day, check out ourDaily Stoic Store. It features our popular amor fati and memento mori medallions, Marcus Aurelius print, and more. Also, The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living is available everywhere books are sold.

Like this email? Forward it to a friend. And if it was forwarded to you, sign up for our free 7-day course on Stoicism, packed with exclusive resources.

 

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