The Daily Stoic is a book written by Ryan Holiday that includes 366 meditations for each day of the year on wisdom, perseverance and as Ryan calls it, ‘The Art of Living’.
In that sense, it isn’t an ordinary book that you would read chapter by chapter. Instead, it provides a less-than-2-minute read for each day of the year that helps me to recalibrate my perspective, see my worries and hang-ups clearly as well as find new ideas about living a better life.
What is Stoicism?
For anyone that is not familiar, stoicism is an ancient Greek philosophy that focuses on living life with virtue, tolerance and self-control. It also deals with one of human kind’s biggest worries: our own mortality. It is making a modern-day comeback because of its many useful lessons that you can apply to your life.
From the Stoic Store UK website:
With humans and society going through so much change, Stoicism offers not a fragile belief system to cling to for hope, but rather a practical guide on how to be a more resilient, courageous, knowledgeable and wise during testing times. In that sense, it becomes more of a way of life.
Stoicism focuses largely on what is in our control and what is not in our control, and most importantly, knowing the difference.
Why The Daily Stoic?
Each page in the Daily Stoic book features a quote from one of the Stoic leaders including the famous Marcus Aurelius and Seneca. Underneath, the author provides a summary and commentary on the quotes that take the ideas into much more detail. These longer passages are designed to provoke thought and contemplation as you go about your daily life.
I know of no other source that packages the wisdom of Stoicism in such a convenient manner. Because it is one short reading per day, it is easy to integrate the reading of the book into your habits and daily routines. Personally, I read The Daily Stoic straight after my morning stretching.
An example from the book
Whilst I can tell you how great the book is all day long, it certainly helps to have a small sample for yourself to judge whether or not it is something that will be suitable for you.
Because it is a book that I not only read daily but one that I can go back to ‘January 1st’ each and every year and read again, it hasn’t and won’t feature in any of my Big Book Reviews. Here is an excerpt from just one of the days of the year:
CULTIVATING INDIFFERENCE WHERE OTHERS GROW PASSION
“Of all thing that are, some are good, others bad, and yet others indifferent. The good are virtues and all that share in them; the bad are the vices and all that indulge them; the indifferent lie in between virtue and vice and include wealth, health, life, death, pleasure and pain.” – Epictetus, Discourses, 2.19.12b-13
Imagine the power you’d have in your life and relationships if all the things that trouble everyone else – how thin they are, how much money that have, how long they have left to live, how they will die – didn’t matter so much. What if, where others were upset, envious, excited, possessive, or greedy, you were objective, calm, and clearheaded? Can you envision that? Imagine what it would do for your relationships at work, or for your love life, or your friendships.
Seneca was an incredibly wealthy, even famous, man – yet he was a Stoic. He had many material things, yet, as the Stoics say, he was also indifferent to them. He enjoyed them while they were there, but he accepted that they might someday disappear. What a better attitude than desperately craving more or fearfully dreading losing even one penny. Indifference is solid middle ground.
It’s not about avoidance or shunning, but rather not giving any possible outcome more power or preference than is appropriate. This is not easy to do, certainly, but if you could manage, how much more relaxed would you be?
How it is changing my life, day by day
When you read a short quote like that followed by Ryan Holiday’s expert commentary, it isn’t hard to see why this book has been life-changing for not just me, but for thousands of others.
Reading just one daily passage is part of my routine for a successful day. It makes me aware of any struggles that I might face in the day ahead and reminds me that I don’t need to react to any of them emotionally. Rather, intelligently and objectively. What will come, will come. And that’s ok.
‘Being stoic’ often has negative connotations for someone that doesn’t care about anything. That isn’t true, as stoicism teaches not detachment from the world but rather a healthier version of attachment, something that many of us, including myself, lack.
If you are new to stoicism and are intrigued to learn more, Ryan has a complete site dedicated to the philosophy that I recommend you visit.
If you haven’t already got The Daily Stoic book, I highly recommend it for all of the reasons above. It will make you a more aware, loving, calm and measured individual, as it has me.