366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living
You want to live a happier and more fulfilled life?
Then, please do – with Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman’s “The Daily Stoic.”
There’s a lesson here for every day in the year.
And each of them is timeless.
Who Should Read “The Daily Stoic”? And Why?
You don’t have to be interested in philosophy to read “The Daily Stoic.”
In fact, the goal of the book is to show that the Stoics were the original self-helpers and motivational coaches, and that, moreover, they were far better (because smarter) than their contemporary colleagues.
So, think of this book both as an introduction to Stoicism – if you need one – and as a guide through life – because, let’s face it, we all need one.
About Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman
Ryan Holiday is an American author, media strategist, and marketer.
After dropping out of college at the age of 19, Holiday went on a successful professional writing career, during which he has so far authored seven bestselling books.
Stephen Hanselman is a literary agent, bookseller, and publisher.
“The Daily Stoic” is his first book.
“The Daily Stoic PDF Summary”
“Of all people only those are at leisure who make time for philosophy, only they truly live,” wrote Seneca once. “Only an ingrate would fail to see that these great architects of venerable thoughts were born for us and have designed a way of life for us.”
In an age when life is understood to be an adventure and when basically every social media site abounds with testimonies that living your life to the fullest means drinking huge amounts of alcohol and taking selfies – it sure seems strange to see this passage quoted as an epigraph to any non-academic book, let alone one which aims to teach you the art of living.
But that’s how “The Daily Stoic,” “a beautiful daily devotional of Stoic meditation,” begins: with a sincere belief that living will always be the end result of thinking about life, and not what happens after you press the pause button of your brain.
But, wait a second!
You want us to believe that only philosophers – aka “no-thank-you-I’d-rather-spend-my-night-reading” nerds – truly live?
I won’t buy that!
Well, you should – because if you stretch that definition a bit, the answer to your question is “yes.”
Just a quick comparison:
Remember that time when you broke the screen on your iPod, and you couldn’t get your act together for the next month or so?
Well, Epictetus – one of the stars of this book – was a slave with a disabled leg and he was supposedly capable of accepting both things, spending most of his life without ever feeling angry or sad.
Fast forward two millennia, and you have William Ernest Henley, a poet with an amputated leg, Nelson Mandela, a prisoner for 27 years, and James Stockdale, a Vietnamese prisoner of war – all surviving through some of the worst things that can happen to anyone in life, by reading Epictetus and the other great Stoic philosophers.
If you want to join their company, then “The Daily Stoic” may be the best book you can find on the market.
No summary will do the book enough justice, since, as we said above, it’s structured as a daily devotional, meaning you should read one page of it per day.
Every single page contains a newly translated quote from some of the most important Stoic philosophers – mainly, the holy triumvirate of Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca, but also some lesser-known Stoics such as Zeno, Cleanthes, and Musonius Rufus – along with a commentary provided by the authors.
These are in turn divided into three parts (coinciding with Stoicism’s three critical disciplines):
#1. THE DISCIPLINE OF PERCEPTION
This part refers to how we perceive (and how we should perceive) the world around us.
It contains the first four months of the year, during which you’ll learn how to achieve clarity in your vision (January), how to restrain your passions and emotions (February), and how to be aware (March) and unbiased (April).
Needless to say, the book starts (January 1st) with Stoicism 101, i.e., Epictetus’ dichotomy of control:
The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own…
#2. THE DISCIPLINE OF ACTION
This part is all about how actions should always be taken with the end in sight, as the product of clear and unbiased perception.
In May you’ll learn about right actions, in June about problem-solving, in July about duty and in August everything you need to know about pragmatism.
Here (June 7th) you’ll happen upon Seneca’s brilliant advice from “On the Shortness of Life” concerning role models (aka, why people write and you should read this kind of books):
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.
#3. THE DISCIPLINE OF WILL
The Discipline of Will part is dedicated to the problem of “how we deal with the things we cannot change, attain clear and convincing judgment, and come to a true understanding of our place in the world.”
Or, more precisely, to fortitude and resilience (September), virtue and kindness (October), acceptance/amor fati (November) and meditation on mortality (December).
Meditate often on the interconnectedness and mutual interdependence of all things in the universe. For in a sense, all things are mutually woven together and therefore have an affinity for each other — for one thing follows after another according to their tension of movement, their sympathetic stirrings, and the unity of all substance.
All in all, a book you should own.
Because, as Kipling implicitly put it in “If–,“ becoming a Stoic is not that much different from becoming a man.
Over to you!
Key Lessons from “The Daily Stoic”
1. The Three Stoic Interests
2. The Three Stoic Disciplines
3. The Easiest Way to be a Stoic: The Four Fundamental Habits
The Three Stoic Interests
Stoics were interested in only three aspects of philosophy: logic, physics, and ethics.
In fact, they often used the analogy of the fertile field to describe their endeavors.
In the analogy, physics (or Nature) was the field itself with all of the laws governing its existence; logic was the fence protecting the field from outsiders (think: superstitions, false beliefs… khm… alternative facts); finally, ethics was the crop you produce, that is the life you manage to extract out of what you are naturally endowed with.
The Three Stoic Disciplines
Now, in order to extract as much as possible out of life, the Stoics were profoundly interested in mastering three disciplines: the discipline of perception, the discipline of action, and the discipline of will.
The discipline of perception was all about learning to see the world clearly; the discipline of action dealt with the decisions and actions we take – and to what end we take them; finally, attaining a discipline of will meant conquering your fears and doubts by accepting what you can’t change.
The Easiest Way to be a Stoic: The Four Fundamental Habits
These are the four steps to becoming a Stoic:
#1. Learn how to differentiate between what is true and what is not and accept only the former;
#2. Try to harmonize your needs and desires with what you can control;
#3. Embrace that which you can’t;
#4. You are part of humanity: work toward the common good.
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“The Daily Stoic Quotes”Knowledge—self-knowledge in particular—is freedom. Click To Tweet The more you say no to the things that don’t matter, the more you can say yes to the things that do. Click To Tweet Pretend that each event—whether desired or unexpected—was willed to happen, willed specifically for you. Click To Tweet Having an end in mind is no guarantee that you’ll reach it—no Stoic would tolerate that assumption—but not having an end in mind is a guarantee you won’t. Click To Tweet Serenity and stability are results of your choices and judgment, not your environment. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
“The Daily Stoic” is “The Upper Room” for secularists. So, no reason why – to quote Jack Canfield – you shouldn’t make it “your guide and [start growing] in clarity, effectiveness, and serenity each day!”
In the meantime, check out The Daily Stoic’s website and browse through it for free.
If you find it appealing, then do buy this book.
And grow into a Stoic – day by day.