This book contains more content and less filler than many books I’ve read. It gives me many insights from page one till the end.
If you ask me what book I recommend you to read, ‘The Daily Stoics’ is at the top of the list. This book is so good that I can’t give you a summary, since every page is worth reading.
I had heard about stoics a long time before, but by reading this, it gives me a better understanding of what it is.
My first thought about stoicism is focusing on what we can control, but it’s actually more than that. It also involves managing perception and expectations, focusing on things that really matter to ourselves, not being influenced by external stuff, having the freedom to make reasoned choices, and paying more attention to signals while dismissing the noise in our lives.
And here are some quotes that resonate with me on various subjects:
No matter how hard you try, you can’t make someone like you.
Have you taken the time to get clarity about who you are and what you stand for? Or are you too busy chasing unimportant things, mimicking the wrong influences, and following disappointing or unfulfilling or nonexistent paths?
Paying attention requires work and awareness.
Just begin the work. The rest follows.
Money only marginally changes life. It doesn’t solve the problems that people without it seem to think it will. In fact, no material possession will. External things can’t fix internal issues.
The more things we desire and the more we have to do to earn or attain those achievements, the less we actually enjoy our lives—and the less free we are.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO STAY ON TOP OF EVERYTHING.
One of the most powerful things you can do as a human being in our hyperconnected, 24/7 media world is say: “I don’t know.” Or, more provocatively: “I don’t care.”
Strength is the ability to maintain a hold of oneself. It’s being the person who never gets mad, who cannot be rattled, because they are in control of their passions—rather than controlled by their passions.
Getting upset is like continuing the dream while you’re awake. The thing that provoked you wasn’t real—but your reaction was. And so from the fake comes real consequences. Which is why you need to wake up right now instead of creating a nightmare.
When it comes to your goals and the things you strive for, ask yourself: Am I in control of them or they in control of me?
Eventually, all of us will pass away and slowly be forgotten. We should enjoy this brief time we have on earth— not be enslaved to emotions that make us miserable and dissatisfied.
Part of the reason we fight against the things that happen is that we’re so focused on our plan that we forget that there might be a bigger plan we don’t know about.
“Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” This present is in our possession—but it has an expiration date, a quickly approaching one. If you enjoy all of it, it will be enough. It can last a whole lifetime.
You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet.
Remember, each individual has a choice. You are always the one in control.
It’s not hard to look at that situation and understand that greed was some part of the problem. Greed was what led people to create complex markets that no one understood in the hope of making a quick buck. Greed caused other people to make trades on strange pools of debt.
Freedom isn’t secured by filling up on your heart’s desire but by removing your desire.
There are two ways to be wealthy—to get everything you want or to want everything you have.
How much harder is it to do the right thing when you’re surrounded by people with low standards?
Uninvited guests might arrive at your home, but you don’t have to ask them to stay for dinner.
TRUST, BUT VERIFY.
IF YOU WANT TO LEARN, BE HUMBLE.
As smart or successful as we may be, there is always someone who is smarter, more successful, and wiser than us.
If you want to learn, if you want to improve your life, seeking out teachers, philosophers, and great books is a good start. But this approach will only be effective if you’re humble and ready to let go of opinions you already have.
But more important, income taxes are not the only taxes you pay in life. They are just the financial form. Everything we do has a toll attached to it. Waiting around is a tax on traveling. Rumors and gossip are the taxes that come from acquiring a public persona. Disagreements and occasional frustration are taxes placed on even the happiest of relationships. Theft is a tax on abundance and having things that other people want. Stress and problems are tariffs that come attached to success. And on and on and on.
MAKE CHARACTER YOUR LOUDEST STATEMENT.
It’s not enough to wish and hope. One must act—and act right.
How you do anything is how you do everything.
What if, when it came to your reading and learning, you prioritized quality over quantity? What if you read the few great books deeply instead of briefly skimming all the new books? Your shelves might be emptier, but your brain and your life would be fuller.
STOP CARING WHAT PEOPLE THINK.
We don’t feel good about our accomplishments or talents until some third party validates them.
Don’t spend much time thinking about what other people think. Think about what you think. Think instead about the results, about the impact, about whether it is the right thing to do.
We like to say that we don’t get to choose our parents, that they were given by chance—yet we can truly choose whose children we’d like to be.
There are two kinds of people in this world. The first looks at others who have accomplished things and thinks: Why them? Why not me? The other looks at those same people and thinks: If they can do it, why can’t I?
JUST DON’T MAKE THINGS WORSE.
Stoics do not seek to have the answer for every question or a plan for every contingency. Yet they’re also not worried. Why? Because they have confidence that they’ll be able to adapt and change with the circumstances. Instead of looking for instruction, they cultivate skills like creativity, independence, self-confidence, ingenuity, and the ability to problem solve. In this way, they are resilient instead of rigid.
If you need help, comrade, just ask.
Today, make sure you take a walk. And in the future, when you get stressed or overwhelmed, take a walk. When you have a tough problem to solve or a decision to make, take a walk. When you want to be creative, take a walk. When you need to get some air, take a walk. When you have a phone call to make, take a walk. When you need some exercise, take a long walk. When you have a meeting or a friend over, take a walk together.
If someone hurts you, it’s a chance to practice forgiveness.
Sometimes our professional commitments can become an end unto themselves. A politician might justify the neglect of his family for his office, or a writer might believe her “genius” excuses antisocial or selfish behavior. Anyone with some perspective can see that, in fact, the politician is really just in love with fame, and the writer enjoys being condescending and feeling superior. Workaholics always make excuses for their selfishness.
While these attitudes can lead to impressive accomplishments, their cost is rarely justified. The ability to work hard and long is admirable. But you are a human being, not a human doing.
We’ve all chased things we thought would matter. At some point, we all thought that money would be the answer, that success was the highest prize, that the undying love of a beautiful person would finally make us feel warm inside. What do we find when we actually attain these sacred objects? Not that they are empty or meaningless—only those who have never had them think that—but what we find is that they are not enough.
Don’t get emotional—get focused.
Have you ever heard the expression “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough”? The idea is not to settle or compromise your standards, but rather not to become trapped by idealism.
PERFECTION IS THE ENEMY OF ACTION.
RESPECT THE PAST, BUT BE OPEN TO THE FUTURE.
He might have wealth, but he didn’t need it.
Humans can be happy with very little.
No person has the power to have everything they want, but it is in their power not to want what they don’t have, and to cheerfully put to good use what they do have.
Is there a person so rich that there is literally nothing they can’t afford? Surely there isn’t. Even the richest people regularly fail in their attempts to buy elections, to purchase respect, class, love, and any number of other things that are not for sale.
A man’s wealth must be determined by the relation of his desires and expenditures to his income.
Don’t be the person who says yes with their mouth but no with their actions.
Money doesn’t change people, it just makes them more of who they are.
Let’s not confuse acceptance with passivity.
Acceptance isn’t passive. It’s the first step in an active process toward self-improvement.
Life is in a constant state of change.
Everything is change. Embrace that. Flow with it.
Hope is generally regarded as good. Fear is generally regarded as bad. To a Stoic like Hecato (known as Hecato of Rhodes), they are the same—both are projections into the future about things we do not control. Both are the enemy of this present moment that you are actually in. Both mean you’re living a life in opposition to amor fati.
There is one thing and only one thing that causes unhappiness. The name of that thing is Attachment.
Attachments to an image you have of a person, attachments to wealth and status, attachments to a certain place or time, attachments to a job or to a lifestyle. All of those things are dangerous for one reason: they are outside of our reasoned choice. How long we keep them is not in our control.
But everything is in a constant state of change. We have certain things for a while and then lose them. The only permanent thing is prohairesis, our capacity for reasoned choice. The things we are attached to can come and go, our choice is resilient and adaptable. The sooner we become aware of this the better. The easier it will be to accept and adapt to what does happen.
TRAIN TO LET GO OF WHAT’S NOT YOURS.
In our own lives, we can train to be that whisper. When there is something we prize—or someone that we love— we can whisper to ourselves that it is fragile, mortal, and not truly ours. No matter how strong or invincible something feels, it never is. We must remind ourselves that it can break, can die, can leave us.
Loss is one of our deepest fears. Ignorance and pretending don’t make things any better. They just mean the loss will be all the more jarring when it occurs.
As for me, I would choose being sick over living in luxury, for being sick only harms the body, whereas luxury destroys both the body and the soul, causing weakness and incapacity in the body, and lack of control and cowardice in the soul. What’s more, luxury breeds injustice because it also breeds greediness.
Suddenly coming into a great deal of money is a curse, not a blessing.
Measuring ourselves against other people makes acceptance difficult, because we want what they have, or we want how things could have gone, not what we happen to have. But that makes no difference.
Why bother? We have no idea what the future holds. We have no idea what’s coming up around the bend. It could be more problems, or this could be the darkness before the dawn.
Whatever happens, we’re going to be OK.
So what do we own? Just our lives—and not for long.
DON’T SELL YOURSELF TOO CHEAPLY.
All things die. Not just people but companies, kingdoms, religions, and ideas—eventually.
Use today. Use every day. Make yourself satisfied with what you have been given.
Don’t wait. Know yourself. Before it’s impossibly late.
If death is truly the end, then what is there exactly to fear?
The purpose of all our reading and studying is to aid us in the pursuit of the good life (and death). At some point, we must put our books aside and take action.
Sorry if this review just contains direct quotations from the book. But, really, this book is so good that the best way to review it is just to directly quote from it.