If you search any phrase or question related to Stoicism on the web you’ll land on content that Ryan Holiday’s team has produced. Ryan is an American author, marketer, and entrepreneur known for his work in the fields of Stoicism, marketing, and personal development. Holiday has written a dozen bestselling books, many of which draw from ancient philosophy and offer practical advice for modern readers. I’ve read a bunch of his work and enjoy his delivery.
Ryan has commendably commercialised the shit out of Stoicism using his learned in-depth knowledge of the philosophy, his writing ability and his background as the Director of Marketing for American Apparel and advising various other brands and authors on growth strategies.
I’ve tapped into his podcast frequently this year, the content and the people he interviews are quality. In yesterday’s episode, he briefly talked through “10 rules for life from the Stoics” which resonated in my mind like the perfect-sized glove on my hand.
Focus on what you control, seek out challenges, own the morning, don’t suffer imagined troubles, don’t feel more than you have to, every situation has two handles, you have the power to have no opinion, put your day up for review, amor fati and meditate on your mortality.
One of the most underlying currents with these 10 suggested rules, is time. The Stoics saw time as a precious and finite resource that should be used wisely. They encouraged acceptance of the past, a measured approach to the future, and a focus on the present as the key to living a virtuous and fulfilling life.
I’ve read about these 10 pillars in detail over the last nine months, I actively practice them and I’ve journaled about the concepts too. It’s powerful to group them together and use them as 10 rules for life as suggested by the Stoics and voiced by Ryan. You could add many more to the list but if you followed these 10 religiously, so they became you, it’s inevitable your life would be better; physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually.
I have fleshed out the 10 rules to ruminate on.
- Focus on what you control:
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the myriad of factors and circumstances that surround us. However, focusing on what you can control is key to maintaining a sense of agency and reducing stress. By identifying and directing your efforts towards those elements of a situation that are within your sphere of influence, you can make more meaningful progress and avoid wasting energy on things beyond your control.
- Seek out challenges; you become better for what you struggle with:
Embracing challenges is a fundamental part of personal growth and development. When you step outside your comfort zone and tackle difficult tasks or situations, you not only acquire new skills but also build resilience and confidence. These experiences shape you into a more capable and adaptable individual.
- Own the morning:
Your morning routine sets the tone for the rest of your day. Taking charge of your mornings by establishing healthy habits, such as exercise, meditation, or a nutritious breakfast, can boost your productivity and overall well-being. It’s a time for self-care and preparation, allowing you to approach the day with clarity and purpose.
- Don’t suffer imagined troubles; don’t feel more than you have to:
Often, we create unnecessary suffering by dwelling on imagined future problems or by letting our emotions run rampant. Stoicism teaches us to stay grounded in the present moment, acknowledge our emotions without being ruled by them, and avoid magnifying our distress through overthinking. This mindset can lead to greater emotional balance and resilience.
- Every situation has two handles – grab the one that makes you better, the smooth handle:
This concept from Stoicism emphasizes the importance of perspective. In any situation, you have the choice to view it positively or negatively. By choosing the perspective that fosters personal growth and learning, you can transform even challenging circumstances into opportunities for self-improvement.
- You have the power to have no opinion:
It’s a reminder that not every situation requires your judgment or reaction. Sometimes, it’s best to withhold judgment or opinion, especially when you lack sufficient information. This practice can help you avoid unnecessary conflicts, biases, and misunderstandings.
- Put your day up for review:
Regular self-reflection is crucial for personal growth. By reviewing your day, you can assess your actions, decisions, and progress towards your goals. This practice allows you to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments in your daily routine and habits.
- Is this essential?
This question encourages you to prioritize tasks and commitments. When faced with a task or decision, ask yourself whether it is essential or aligns with your goals. This helps you avoid spreading yourself too thin and directs your efforts toward what truly matters.
- Amor fati, embrace everything that happens:
Amor fati, which means “love of fate”, is about accepting and even celebrating all events, whether they are perceived as good or bad, as part of the grand tapestry of your life. This mindset allows you to find meaning and growth in every experience, contributing to a deeper sense of contentment and resilience.
- Meditate on your mortality so you don’t waste time:
Reflecting on your mortality serves as a powerful motivator to make the most of your limited time. By acknowledging the finite nature of life, you’re inspired to prioritize what truly matters, pursue your passions, and avoid procrastination. This practice encourages a sense of urgency and purpose in your actions and decisions.
Incorporating these principles into your life can help you cultivate a more mindful, purpose-driven, and resilient approach to living. They are ingredients of powerful mindfulness, providing valuable guidance for personal growth and well-being.
Are there any essential rules you would you add to the list?