Day 1 of Living the Stoic Life

Post your reflections, observations, share advice and discuss any passages in Stoicism you have found particularly helpful, all in the thread below!’ Please post here anything related to Living the Stoic life today, whether in the comments or, if you would like, via your own Youtube video diary! [Feel free to publish under pseudonym if you prefer!]

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15 thoughts on “Day 1 of Living the Stoic Life”

  1. I dont know much about stoicism but am interested in how human beings react to circumstance.

    One of the things that I notice is that we seem to need to see our lives as if through the eyes of another. From my little knowledge it appears that for Stoicism this other is nature.

    Therefore our relationship to nature is how Stoics make sense of life. It seems to me that added to this are an overlay of value judgements about what is good and what is profitable. These could be attributed as coming from ourselves or from another. In either case they would be to a certain degree subjective.

    In this case Stoicism shares some of the attributes of a theistic religion but the eyes within which we view our lives being nature rather than God. Simlarly the value judgements originate within ourselves rather than with God.

    My question is whether the value projections onto nature can be as holistic as those onto God.

    For instance with God a man is sent, and his success is judged according to his use of the gifts he received from God. If is endeavours are honest his reception becomes like a judgement on those who recieve him. With stoicism it appears to me that a man who is poorly recieved by his fellows has no transcending value system against which to judge himself. Perhaps he is simply unlucky but it appears to be his opinion as opposed to theirs.

    So my point is that as an empowering philosophy, the measure of success or failure needs to be taken out of the hands others men who are too inconstant to be reliable judges.

    Perhaps the nub of it is judgement, generally men judge what you have and if you succeed. God judges how you tried insite of your possessions and abilities. In that sense simply to try is to succeed.

  2. After day 1 the 2 most popular exercises (according to our survey) are
    Mentally rehearse any potential challenges of the day ahead & Mentally rehearse generic precepts .
    You can take this survey as many times as you like. You can see from the survey what other people are trying. It may help choose a new Stoic exercise to try today.
    Visit http://eSurv.org?u=ExercisesTried

  3. I knew that today was going to involve some potentially frustrating dealings with a business project. I found that a combination of rehearsing the day ahead, remaining mindful of what was within my control or not, and Premeditatio Malorum did really aid in not letting the whole mess get to me.
    My focus (prosoche) waned a bit at mid day when things were just dragging on. I think I will set an alarm on my phone to give me a little reminder for that 2-3 pm stretch.
    On the whole, trying to stick with the program lent a certain calmness and purpose to things aside from just trying to do work and get through the day.

  4. I started the day with a reflection on mortality, what is under my control and isn’t and the thought to accept gladly whatever comes.

    Today I focused on projecting misfortune. Whenever I was upset or irritated, I imagined how it would be if it happened to someone else and how I would react. Oftentimes, I would laugh at the absurd humor of it. I also had occasional flashes of being joyful just to be alive, a side effect of my mortality contemplation earlier in the day.

    This evening I plan to reflect upon my day and write in my journal especially from a stoic perspective.

  5. Listened to the view from above meditation, and it really put me in the right frame of mind for this project. I programed reminders on my iPhone, to periodically remind to abide by the core stoic attitude : Prosoche (attention).
    This was helpful at first, but became somewhat annoying after the 3rd reminder. tonight I will start a reflection diary, and do a bedtime reflection. And do it all over again tommorrow

  6. Went for a sunrise walk, which I hoped would be a bit like the opening credits of The Lion King, but sunrise in the rain means in fact that it goes from dark grey to slightly less grey… Still, it brought perspective. I thought about trees and rain and how the sun still rises even when you can’t see it.
    Throughout the day tried to bring mindful attention to each moment and to adapt with serenity when events deviated from the plan.
    A question bothers me: if all circumstances are equally desirable, how do I make decisions? It seems in a way that accepting what comes is the easy part, but it’s harder to take responsibility for choices.

    1. Hi Postclassical!

      I think that accepting what comes more implies that you understand that such and such a situation is happening. But the Stoic still has control over actions, and voluntary thoughts in that situation, and the goal is always to respond appropriately to it. E.g. Epictetus says that you could regard being amongst a crowd of people at a party either a festival (which could be appropriate) or like being amongst brigands (sometimes this might be true of course!). Or being alone could either be serenity (appropriate), or loneliness. So I think Stoicism is about accepting that such and such is the situation, but then about deciding on best course of action for it (and it is always in the power of the Stoic to act well, they say). The first chapter of Epictetus’ Handbook might be helpful for this.

  7. I have chosen a few elements of stoicism to concentrate on during December. At the moment, I am working on failing project with a histrionic project sponsor. I have started with empathetic understanding as a way of coping with my reaction of anger to his simplistic and lazy way of addressing project issues. With any luck my focus will be better placed on other things where my efforts matter instead of dealing with his misgivings.

  8. Hi there, happy to share the first insights into the Stoic life experience. First and foremost, I think it is absolutely necessary to realize the connection between your body and your mind. When you get up in the morning, do some exercise, feel the blood pumping in your limbs, for as long as your body is sleeping you shouldn’t expect any strong activity from your brain. That’s precisely what I didn’t do today, but I know it is vital. What I did was something peculiar. I was in very good condition for self-development yesterday evening, so when I awoke this morning I decided to sustain the same ambiance as in the last hour before I went to sleep. So I didn’t open my curtains and switched on my desk lamp instead, thus simulating evening conditions. It proved to be rather effective, because I was ploughing through the material in question in quite fast a pace. Bottom line is, when you find yourself in the perfect condition for self-development, try to extend it before you loose the magic (which happens fast enough). We always apprehend to the most when we feel the natural flow…
    Next update to follow soon !!!

  9. Today I’ve been following my work with Epictetus; the externals of the weather it a crowded train did not affect my state of mind. Little things and baby steps but over the last few months I’ve found dismissing false impressions has been highly rewarding psychologically.

  10. Great video diaries from Sam and Christopher! I echo Christopher’s comments about ‘not suddenly becoming a Stoic overnight’! I can see how Stoicism is a very gradual process.

    What I have noticed is that my day started far more purposively than usual. By practising the anachoresis and the meditation on the day ahead (with the maxim: ‘what is in my control and what is not’), I felt like I was far better prepared to face the day than usual.

    Did this optimistic outlook have any basis in reality, when it came to it? To an extent, yes! I have found that just before key events during the day, the Stoic maxim I reflected on this morning just came into my mind, and I have performed these routine activities more calmly than before (this even includes reading some rather dense secondary material, with which I have never associated even a smidgen of tranquillity!).

    So all in all, I have found this start to the Stoic week to be gradual yet positive.