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The Daily Stoic Summary |  Ryan Holiday

366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living

The Daily Stoic summary featured image.png

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Introduction

The Daily Stoic is an original translation of selected writings of several Stoic philosophers, including Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Musonius Rufus, and Zeno. It aims to teach about personal growth, life management, and mindfulness.

The Daily Stoic is intended to be read one page per day. Each page features a quote from a Stoic philosopher and Ryan Holiday’s commentary. It is organized into themes that cover the twelve months of the year.

“A perfect book to read every morning. The lessons are short and sweet, and get you into the right mindset for the day.”

– Arnold Schwarzenegger

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About Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday is an American marketer and author. Holiday dropped out of college at 19 to apprentice under Robert Greene, the author of The 48 Laws of Power. Holiday became the marketing director for American Apparel and founded a creative agency called Brass Check. Brass Check has advised companies like Google, and authors like Neil Strauss, Tony Robbins, and Tim Ferriss. Holiday is also a media columnist and editor-at-large for the New York Observer. He has written 10 books including Ego is The Enemy, The Obstacle Is the Way, Stillness Is the Key, and Discipline Is Destiny. They have collectively sold millions of copies.

StoryShot #1: There Are Three Stoic Interests

Stoics were interested in only three aspects of philosophy:

  1. Logic: Logic involves the study of reason and argument. It involves understanding how to form valid conclusions based on evidence and reasoning. The Stoics believed that sound logic was key to a virtuous and fulfilling life.
  2. Physics: Physics involves the study of the natural world and the laws governing its existence. It involves understanding how the universe works and how different phenomena are connected. Stoics saw physics as a key area of study for gaining insight into the nature of the world.
  3. Ethics: Ethics involves the study of moral principles and how to live a good life. It involves understanding what is right and wrong, and how to behave in a way that is in line with our values. The Stoics saw ethics as an important aspect of philosophy and believed it was essential for living a virtuous and fulfilling life.

Overall, they often used the analogy of the fertile field. Physics was the field itself, along with all the laws governing its existence. Logic was the fence protecting the field from outsiders. Finally, ethics was the crop the field produced.

StoryShot #2: There Are Three Stoic Disciplines

To extract as much as possible from life, the Stoics were interested in mastering three disciplines. These disciplines were perception, action, and will.

  1. Perception: The discipline of perception involves learning to see the world clearly and understand things as they really are. This involves being mindful of our thoughts and attitudes and making sure we use accurate and objective information. This provides insight and wisdom that can help us navigate the challenges of life.
  2. Action: The discipline of action involves making good decisions and taking actions that are in line with our values and goals. It involves being mindful of the consequences of our actions and considering how they may affect others. By cultivating this discipline, we can live in alignment with our values and make a positive impact on the world.
  3. Will: The discipline of will involves conquering our fears and doubts and accepting what we cannot change. Developing inner strength and resilience to overcome challenges and setbacks. This makes it easier to face the challenges of life with courage and determination.

Overall, the discipline of perception is all about learning to see the world clearly. The discipline of action deals with the decisions and actions we take – and to what end we take them. Finally, attaining the discipline of will means conquering your fears and doubts by accepting what you can’t change.

Part I: Master the Discipline of Perception

StoryShot #3: January’s Focus Is Clarity

Holiday breaks stoicism down into a month-by-month transformation path. The focus for January is clarity. This month, aim to better understand and control the tools within your reach. In doing so, you can regain your personal power. This approach aligns with the Stoics’ idea that you cannot control a situation, but you can control what you think about it. 

Controlling your responses will help you respond to the curveballs that the world will throw at you. Plus, you will grow as an individual by controlling your daily habits and actions. You can make progress while others are complaining about the world. 

Epictetus described clarity as the first time you become a philosopher. Philosophy is about examining your assumptions, emotions, and beliefs. Therefore, start your Stoicism journey by considering all your weaknesses and the times when you have excelled. This honest self-reflection will allow you to identify areas of improvement. 

Also, surround yourself with individuals who will challenge you. The 18th-century economist Adam Smith called these people your “indifferent spectators”. 

StoryShot #4: February’s Focus Is Passions and Emotions

The advanced stage of clarity is controlling your passions and emotions. People let their passions control them. Holiday describes it as a modern-day superpower to reverse this relationship. If you can control your passions and emotions, you can ponder deeply before you act. Thought is essential to all your perceptions, including judging good or bad.

Holiday provides examples of Theodore Roosevelt and Cato the Younger. Roosevelt engaged in several bizarre actions during his time as US president. He almost died exploring a river in the Amazon, and he needlessly slaughtered thousands of animals on Safari. He also begged to enlist as a soldier in the First World War, even though he was too old to fight. Roosevelt had some impressive accomplishments, but he was also prone to letting his emotions dictate his decisions. 

Instead of adopting this type of leadership, Holiday recommends acting like Cato the Younger. Cato was a senator and prominent rival of Julius Caesar. People expected Cato to produce extravagant speeches. However, Cato decided to repress his ego and instead took time to evaluate his thoughts. Subsequently, he only gave speeches when he felt they would be most impactful. He did not let his emotions rule him, and that ensured his success.

StoryShot #5: March’s Focus Is Awareness

This month, focus on being aware of your mind. Holiday describes your mind as consisting of your instincts, patterns, and assumptions. By being more aware of these internal processes, we can better understand ourselves and our potential. We can then work to unlock that potential by making positive changes in our lives. So, the focus of March is to be more aware of ourselves and our minds to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

You must avoid letting your ego lead you astray. The best way to keep your ego in check is to use logic and reasoning.

Self-awareness is the foundation for wisdom and effectiveness. It involves:

  • Being honest with ourselves about our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
  • Paying attention to the present moment and seeing things as they truly are.

Mindfulness is a powerful tool for cultivating self-awareness. By being more self-aware, we can better understand ourselves and our potential. 

StoryShot #6: April’s Focus Is Unbiased Thought

Humans naturally have biases. To overcome these biases, we have to think purposefully and act upon the information we take in. Holiday is not arguing that you should ignore your instincts. Instead, constantly evaluate your instincts. Improve them when presented with new information. If you learn that you have made errors, accept those errors and improve. You can then adopt the optimal approach for each circumstance.

Avoid attributing automatic perceptions to events. Musashi, a 17th-century samurai swordsman and philosopher, described the difference between automatic and purposeful responses to events. According to Musashi, you can look at something with an observing eye or a perceiving eye. The observing eye sees things for what they truly are. The perceiving eye relies on impulsive and subjective perceptions, so it is prone to biases.

Part II: Master the Discipline of Action

StoryShot #7: May’s Focus Is Right Action

Do not focus on achieving the right outcome. Focus on choosing the right action. Focus on the process rather than the result. You cannot control the outcome, but you can control your level of effort and your chosen action. Therefore, be content knowing that you made the correct decision.

Rating

We rate The Daily Stoic 4.5/5 based on this summary.

Our Score

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Editor’s Note

This piece was first published in Dec 2020. It was revised in Jan 2023.

Disclaimer

This is an unofficial summary and analysis.

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