There are so many reasons why I finally downloaded a copy of The Daily Stoic to my ereader. In a year filled with increased anxiety, depression, and way too much talk of death, I needed… something.
And when my doctor offered me relief from anxiety in the form of magic pills, it made me sit up and truly ask myself if that was what I wanted. I’m not knocking medication for anxiety. Not by a long shot. I know many who get much needed relief that way. But I’m not big on taking medications unless they’re truly what I need. And, to be honest, I thought I knew where my increased anxiety was “mostly” coming from — a terrifying and looming deadline for Secret is in the Bones. A deadline that would soon pass.
I kindly told my doctor, “I don’t think I’m there yet, but if I don’t feel relief after I meet my deadline (if I meet my deadline), I’ll call you.”
I did meet my deadline. WHEW! And I did feel some relief after that.
In addition to looking for something to ease anxiety, I was also searching for a new way of thinking, or gathering my thoughts. As I was entering a very busy season of my life, I was looking for new ways to see life, to keep my creativity alive, and to stay disciplined in what I chose to spend time on.
I’ve started journaling more — or I should say… again. Sometimes that’s in the form of “morning pages.” A subject for another post, morning pages are essentially the result of writing three pages of free-form writing about anything on your mind. It doesn’t have to be neat or organized or even make sense to anyone but you. It’s a way of word-vomiting anything you’d like to write about first thing in the morning before you do anything else.
While morning pages is a great tool, I was still searching for a new way of looking at things — to train my brain differently.
Stoicism is defined by Wikipedia (not always the best place to find a definition, but it was tough to find something succinct) as:
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. It is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world.
The idea of learning more about Stoicism has been building in me over time, but just look at that definition. It’s intimidating to someone who’s busy.
But what better way to dive into something “new to them” than by practicing it in short, daily bursts? Enter The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday.
A short description from Ryan’s website:
The first page-a-day book on Stoicism. Each day features a different quote from a preeminent Stoic philosopher, along with an exploration of the ideas raised by the quote. The months are grouped thematically to help you get a complete and thorough understanding of Stoicism.
Just to give you an example of the types of philosophy or subjects you might find inside the daily stoic, on January 21, you’ll examine “The Morning Ritual.”
“Many successful people have a morning ritual. For some, it’s meditation. For others, it’s exercise. For many, it’s journaling — just a few pages where they write down their thoughts, fears, hopes. In these cases, the point is not so much the activity itself as it is the ritualized reflection. The idea is to take some time to look inward and examine.”
But even that snapshot on only one given day is not enough to tell you what stoicism actually is, so let’s look at the 4 virtues of Stoicism from TheDailyStoic.com:
IV. What Are The 4 Virtues of Stoicism?
They are the most essential values in Stoic philosophy. “If, at some point in your life,” Marcus Aurelius wrote, “you should come across anything better than justice, truth, self-control, courage—it must be an extraordinary thing indeed.” That was almost twenty centuries ago. We have discovered a lot of things since then—automobiles, the Internet, cures for diseases that were previously a death sentence—but have we found anything better?
…than being brave
…than moderation and sobriety
…than doing what’s right
…than truth and understanding?
No, we have not. It’s unlikely we ever will.
There is a lot to Stoicism, and I’m finding it near impossible to tell you everything that Stoicism is in this post. Especially since I’ve only been truly studying it for a couple of weeks. Maybe you’re already a seasoned Stoic. If so, feel free to offer me advice in the comments. Maybe you’re brand new to the idea. If that’s the case, I invite you to check it out.