My life has been crazy. Like, really crazy. I would go into further details, but it is a long story (well, many long stories) that can wait until another day. The important takeaway is simply this: life is hard, stressful, unfair, and unpredictable. This isn’t unique to me, or to anyone else, so eventually I started to wonder: how the hell did people deal with the chaos of life over the past two thousand years?
I feel like it took me a long while to arrive at this thought considering people have been dealing with the stress of every day life since… well, literally as long as we have existed. While we have new modern problems, it turns out that many of the problems in our lives are not that different from those who lived thousands of years ago. Love, grief, wealth, happiness, success; a lot of time and energy has been spent thinking about these things over the course of human existence.
Now I know what you are thinking: didn’t you take philosophy in school? The answer is yes, and I enjoyed it. However, it never felt useful or practical. My goal when asking the question above was to find a framework that can help me deal with some of the bullshit life throws my way, and to help me de-stress my life. Researching how great people in history dealt with their problems led me back to something that was always on my “learn about this eventually” list: stoicism.
I’m not going to dive into the virtues of stoicism here, but I would highly recommend The Obstacle is the Way as a crash course that will get your feet wet and point you in the direction of what to read next. The main thing I will note here is simply this: stoicism is a timeless, battle tested, and, most importantly, practical mental framework about living a good life.
My goal with this long series of posts is to think about and practice these concepts regularly so they do not become stale, fuzzy, or worse, forgotten. Thankfully this is precisely what The Daily Stoic prescribes: read one specific stoic proverb or thought every day, and then articulate my thoughts and reactions. There is one for each and every day, so this will be a year long journey and thus very long series of posts.
Let’s get started.
(Also, as a brief aside, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, considered a god by his people and the most powerful man on the planet during his lifetime, took the time to write in a journal about virtue and how he could become a better person. This writing survives to this day, and you would be crazy not to read it.)