The Fantastic Life

Stoic Habits

I had to send this article JUST for the first quote: “It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.”  Marcus Aurelius. 

Building on this quote, here are three stoic habits to develop.  Read more in the article below.

–Stop obsessing about other people’s opinions.  Hell yes. This is worth the message today.

–Welcome adversity and obstacles. Read The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holliday for more on this topic.

–Remember you must die. In Latin, the phrase is Memento Mori and it is a constant reminder that life is temporary.

Live. Your. Fantastic. Life. Today.

Rule # 2  from my book The Fantastic Life Be Crystal Clear on What You Want

When we fail to understand our own desires, it’s easier to get caught up in what the world thinks we should want. Identify your wants. Crystalize them. Then, when the world offers its opinion, you can accept or reject it accordingly.

9 Life-Changing Stoic Habits to Master 2021

Take charge and reinvent yourself to make this year the best one (yet).

By Clément Bourcart

January 28, 2021
Photo by Doran Erickson on Unsplash

2021 is here. New year, new you?Now is a time to start afresh, to set yourself new goals, to pick up better habits, and discard those that don’t serve you anymore.

After such a challenging year for all of us, it’s time to hit the reset button and step up to the plate for what lies ahead.

The Stoic philosophers provide us with a roadmap for living a content and composed life. Their wisdom can help you set yourself up for success by choosing how you react to the chaos around you.

Below are some key concepts which will help you set great habits for the year ahead.

Stop obsessing about other people’s opinions.

As Aurelius wrote in his Meditations:It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.”Caring about others’ judgments more than how you view yourself is a slippery slope. Because you simply can’t please everybody all the time. Whose opinion truly matters to you? Perhaps your closest friend’s or life partner’s, and your own. Then listen to them, cut out the noise from elsewhere, and don’t become a slave to others’ perceptions.

Make sure to work on something that matters.

Work nourishes noble minds”, as Seneca wrote. Work, the intentional pursuit of producing something of value to others, is a large part of being human.

So if your aim is to find fulfillment, one place to look this year is what you’re spending your time on.

Does your work fill your days with a sense of purpose and mission? Or, does it drain you because you feel like a cog in the machine, powerless, working to build others’ dreams instead of your own?

Stop aiming for perfection.

As a creator, this is a tough one. We all aim to be the best we can be, whether as a parent, at work or in our personal lives.

However, as Epictetus declared:

We don’t abandon our pursuits because we despair of ever perfecting them.”

We know we won’t ever be perfect at whatever it is we do. This doesn’t stop us, and it shouldn’t stop you. Don’t let it — perfection is an elusive lofty goal, but nothing more than an illusion.

Start a reflection ritual.

In his Discourses, Epictetus invites you to ask yourself some key questions before starting your day.

“Ask yourself the following first thing in the morning:

What am I lacking in attaining freedom from passion?
What for tranquillity?
What am I? A mere body, estate-holder, or reputation? None of these things.
What, then? A rational being.
What then is demanded of me? Meditate on your actions.
How did I steer away from serenity?
What did I do that was unfriendly, unsocial, or uncaring?
What did I fail to do in all these things?”

Carving out the time to ask yourself these important questions (or your own set of them) every day will help you stay on course. Day after day, year after year, they’ll give you clarity as you go through your life journey.

Welcome adversity and the obstacles on your way.

Seneca brilliantly reminds us that encountering challenges is the only way to measure ourselves up. To see what you’re truly made of, and what you can achieve.

I judge you unfortunate because you have never lived through misfortune. You have passed through life without an opponent — no one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you.

Rather than shying away from challenge and discomfort, start viewing those two as friends that’ll help you grow. Getting out of your comfort zone is the one sure way to grow into the best version of yourself.

Epictetus concurs:“Difficulties show a person’s character. Therefore when a difficulty falls upon you, remember that God, like a trainer of wrestlers, has matched you with a rough young man.

Why? So that you may become an Olympic conqueror, but it is not accomplished without sweat.”

So don’t be afraid of the sweat, embrace it. It’s what will get you closer to your goal (even if you’re not aiming for Olympic gold!).

Remember you must die.

The ancient adage, memento mori, was used as a constant reminder of the temporary nature of this life. In the scheme of things, your life is nothing but a brief, passing wave in the endless ocean of human history. So you better make the most of the time you do have on this Earth.

Aurelius, again:“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.”

Thinking this way forces you to strive to act as the best version of yourself, moment to moment.

Lead by example.

It’s easy to get lost in principles, concepts, and tips for living a “good” life or being a “good” human being. At the end of the day, actions speak louder than words. Instead of engaging in endless discussions about morality and gossiping about this or that person’s actions, act like the person you want to be.

Aurelius put in simply:

Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be One.

Value simplicity.

Our world of unbridled consumerism is leading us to think that the act of consuming is an end in itself. The current global pandemic has led many to re-think their priorities, and what truly matters in this life.

As Seneca advises:

Let us get used to dining out without the crowds, to being a slave to fewer slaves, to getting clothes only for their real purpose, and to living in more modest quarters.

Do we possess things, or do things possess us? When someone is so attached to their house, their big cars, and expensive bags, they are actually a slave to these lifeless objects. Let’s flip the script, and remain the masters of our lives by avoiding unnecessary clutter that doesn’t help us grow.

Accept the world as it is.

We always cling on to external events and what people have said or done to us, anger and bitterness bottled up inside. It’s easy to find excuses by putting the blame on how people treated you in the past. On what kind of childhood you had. Or on an unprecedented, global economic and health crisis…

Yet, Aurelius makes us reflect on how we perceive things that are outside of our control:

If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs you, but your own judgment about it. And it is in your power to wipe out this judgment now.

If you “wipe out this judgment”, you’ll free yourself of the self-inflicted pain that comes with wanting to control events that you can’t.

Closing Thoughts

Stoicism as a way of life can be summarized by another of Aurelius’ musings:

“Objective judgment, now, at this very moment.

Unselfish action, now, at this very moment.

Willing acceptance — now, at this very moment — of all external events.That’s all you need.”

These 3 things are the key to living a stoic life: one of acceptance, not blame. One of letting go, not attachment to the outcome.

If you can be fluid enough in your mind to stop wanting to bend the world to your will so that everything goes your way, you’ll lead a much more content life.

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