12 Stoic Lessons That Will Immediately Change Your Life – Ryan Holiday

12 Stoic Lessons That Will Immediately Change Your Life – Ryan Holiday

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he was born a slave and died one of the most influential teachers of his time but epictetus wouldn't have considered himself a teacher he was a philosopher a stoic philosopher a man who sought a very specific kind of knowledge the knowledge that when applied helped with facing and overcoming the inevitable difficulties of life and through a combination of his own life experiences and the wisdom of his mentor the stoic philosopher missonius rufus epictetus had the kind of insights that people traveled
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hundreds of miles for the chance to hear it even if only for an hour or two they sent their children to hear him even the poor the affluent the powerful even the future emperor hadrian were told they all vied for a chance to sit in and sit down at epictetus feet and fortunately there was a young man who regularly got to listen into epictetus and he wrote down what epictetus had to say and remarkably these notes survived to us and have been passed on to some of history's greatest figures over the last few thousand years
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the roman emperor marcus aurelius wrote in his journal thanking the man who had loaned him a copy of epictetus theodore roosevelt famously carried a copy of epictetus with him along his incredibly dangerous river of doubt expedition admiral james stockdale had epitetus with him as he led fighter squadrons in daily combat in vietnam and it was on epictetus whom he leaned when he had to survive seven years as a prisoner of war the list is endless and hopefully after this video you'll understand why and add your name to the
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list of epictetus's admirers because he truly was one of the wisest and most inspiring people to ever live our first job is this epictetus said to divide and distinguish things into two categories externals i cannot control but the choices i make with regard to what i do control where will i find good and bad in me in my choices this single skill epictetus said will change your life the art of differentiating between what's up to us and what is not up to us what we have
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influence over and what we do not a flight is delayed because of weather no amount of yelling at an airline representative will end the storm no amount of wishing will make you taller or shorter or born in a different country no matter how hard you try you can't make someone like you on top of all that time spent hurling yourself at these immovable objects is time not spent on the things we can change as epictetus said all we can control is the choices they make right now and the same is true for you focus on making clear what parts of your
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day are within your control and what parts are not you will not only be happier but you will have a distinct advantage over all the people who fail to realize they are wasting their time on unwinnable battles it is not events that disturb people epitheta said it's their judgment about things albert ellis one of the most influential figures in modern psychology said it was this line that guided the development of cognitive behavioral therapy epictetus said it was the most important power we have something happens but we decide
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that it's unfair or bad or a failure someone says something but we decide that it's offensive or presumptuous or rude if someone succeeds in provoking you epictetus said realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation events are objective the opinion that they're objectionable is just that your opinion and you always have the power to change it get rid of self-conceit epictetus said it is impossible to learn that which one thinks they already know epictetus kept his eyes and ears open always actively looking for
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opportunities to learn from everyone and everything and this is the attitude we must take with us day in and day out whether we're one of the best at what we do or just starting out it doesn't matter every person we meet every situation we find ourselves in every book we read or movie we watch there is an opportunity to learn to keep getting better to take another step forward on the path to progress and that was one of epictetus's favorite questions how have you made progress more than anything else we answer that question by focusing on what we don't know on where we can get better on where we can
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improve rather than patting ourselves on the back for how great we are the true man is revealed in difficult times epictetus said so when trouble comes think of yourself as a wrestler paired with a tough young buck for what purpose to turn you in to olympic class material we can think of hardship many ways as failure as unfairness as the end of the conversation clearly this was not meant to be we say they don't want me to succeed what's the point in trying or we can choose we can train ourselves to see it a better way as grist for the mill has a chance to learn about endurance patience
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resilience struggle has a chance to prove our metal as resistance that is making our muscles stronger as a sparring partner epictetus preferred the latter and became in his time and in ours the ultimate symbol of the ability of a human being to overcome dark circumstances he said it was not about accepting hardship or resigning ourselves to it but agreeing to work with it to decide to make the most of it to see hardship as an opportunity not as an obstacle and in this way we can turn everything that happens to us into fuel
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and we can be made better and stronger by everything that happens would you really know what philosophy offers humanity seneca once said philosophy offers counsel born at the turn of the first millennium a time of paranoia and violence and political turmoil seneca needed counsel just as you need counsel he read widely and eventually discovered a school of philosophy known as stoicism founded in greece only a few centuries before
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there in the works of the stoics seneca found what he was looking for guidance on how to live a good life and soon he began writing letters and essays to family members friends promising young talents sharing the wisdom that changed his life because nothing will ever please me he said no matter how excellent or beneficial if i must retain the knowledge of it myself no good thing is pleasant to possess he said without friends to share it there are more things likely to frighten us seneca wrote than there are to crush us
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we suffer more in imagination than in reality seneca's life was full of suffering he was born with a chronic lung condition he lived through the reins of the first five emperors each increasingly more deranged and violent than the previous he was exiled and lost everything twice and yet for all this suffering his advice was that the only thing we should be worried about is what we're worried about we spend so much time imagining worrying in advance that we actually torture ourselves more than the thing
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we're worried about ever could and that is of course if it actually happens at all the most important thing to remember about pain and suffering seneca said is that it is inevitable it can't be avoided but what we must avoid is the phantom premonitions of what may or may not happen instead of suffering in imagination focus on what's immediately in front of you stay in the present stay in reality excellence withers without an adversary seneca said as fire is the test of gold so adversity is
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the test of strong men we'd like to live comfortably to minimize inconveniences to not have to do what we don't like to do to find what we enjoy where we enjoy it and never leave but seneca said that this is a kind of death trap a person who has never been challenged he said who always gets their way is a tragic figure you have passed through life without an opponent he said no one can ever know what you are capable of not even you which is why seneca talked over and over again about the importance of adversity
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of not only embracing the struggle life throws at you but actively seeking out that difficulty so you can be stronger and better and more prepared every day he said we should look to challenge ourselves we should make choices that push us rather than help us atrophy and when we are going through something tough we should be grateful for the chance that it is helping us realize our full potential associate with those who will make a better man of you seneca said welcome those whom you yourself can improve the process is mutual for men
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learn as they teach jim rohn's widely quoted line is that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with james altucher advises young writers and entrepreneurs to find their scene a group of peers who push them to be better but gerta's maxim is better tell me whom you can sort with and i will tell you who you are and seneca said if there's one thing we should be especially careful of it's who we surround ourselves with i never bring back home the same character that i took with me he said there is no person who does not stamp their character upon
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us or taint us unconsciously we have to consider who we allow in our lives we can't be afraid of cutting ties with old environments or relationships when it's clear that they're no longer serving us well we can't be afraid of reaching out to new people or to make an attempt to break into new and better social circles the stakes are high as seneca put it just as some diseases jump over onto those we have touched so the mind infects those closest to us with evils this is our big mistake seneca said to
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think we look forward to death most of death is already gone whatever time has passed is owned by death like many philosophers death was a common theme in seneca's writings let us prepare our minds as if we'd come to the very end of life he said let us postpone nothing let us balance life's books each day the one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time but seneca's greatest contribution on the topic of life's final act is that it wasn't
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actually a final act death seneca realized is not something that lay ahead of us in the uncertain future he realized that we were dying every day the time you have spent listening to this video you have died just a few minutes no day no minute no second once dead can be revived it's not that we have a short time to live seneca said but that we waste a lot of it there is therefore only one thing we should do he said live immediately so if you take anything from seneca's writings from his wisdom
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from the philosophy that so offered you counsel it is that go out and live now while you still can fortune is fickle do not wait take it now live while you can there was no one like him marcus aurelius the last of the five good emperors marcus aurelius was a student of stoicism an ancient school of philosophy founded in athens in the early 3rd century bc on the belief that we don't control the world
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around us we control only how we respond marcus was the leader of a world facing a pandemic which spanned 15 years civil unrest wars on the border cultural decadence income inequality and so much more and so it's easy to see why he was drawn to this philosophy he compared himself to someone seeking relief from a rash or a burn and that stoicism was his soothing ointment a warm lotion and that's why marcus aurelius
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tried to provide in meditations his only known work a totally unique and peerless document in the annals of history to pass on this ointment this guidance this medicine to future generations as bran blanchard the historian would note few now care about the marches and counter-marches of the roman commanders what the centuries have clung to is the notebook of thoughts of a man whose real life was largely unknown who put down in the midnight dimness not the events of the day or the plans of
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the morrow but something of far more permanent interest the ideals and the aspirations that a rare spirit lived by and that's what stoicism was designed to be medicine for the soul relieving us of the vulnerabilities of life and restoring us with vigor to what we need to thrive at dawn when you have trouble getting out of bed marcus aurelius said tell yourself i have to go to work as a human being what do i have to complain of if i am going to do what i was born for
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the things i was brought into this world to do or is this what i was created for to huddle under the blankets and stay warm it is one of the most relatable moments in meditations this argument marcus aurelius was having with himself in the opening of book five it's clearly an argument he had many times on many mornings as many of us have he knows he has to get out of bed but so desperately wants to remain under the warm covers it's relatable but it's also impressive
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marcus didn't actually have to get out of bed being the emperor meant that he didn't have to do anything he could have slept in every day without immediate consequence no one would have docked his pay no one would have asked him why he was late and yet here marcus was insisting that he rise early and get to work why as dante wrote in his epic poem beneath the blanket is no way to fame you can't accomplish anything curled up under the covers marcus knew that winning the morning was
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key to winning the day and winning at life he knew that being the most powerful man in the world still didn't exempt him from living as nature requires he knew that his status didn't mean anything and that his obligations to it were waiting for him to wake up he knew that sleeping in would only mean that he had a lot of catching up to do and that he had handed over control and was now in reactionary mode and so it's simple if you want to be productive get more done and be great you have to get up early our actions may be impeded marcus aurelius wrote but
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there can be no impeding our intentions or our dispositions because we can accommodate and adapt the mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting the impediment to action advances action what stands in the way becomes the way one way to go through life is to turn away from hardship you can close your ears and eyes to what is unpleasant you can take the easy way foregoing difficulty whenever possible the other way is the stoic way we can choose we can train
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ourselves we can see hardship as an opportunity as grist for the mill as a chance to learn about endurance patience resilience and struggle we can see it as a chance to prove our mettle as a way of learning about people or situations or actions or things and marcus aurelius believed in the latter approach he wrote about how fire turns everything that is thrown into it into flame he says that obstacles are better seen as fuel it's not about accepting hardship for the stoics then or resigning ourselves to it
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rather it's a matter of agreeing to work with it to decide to make the most of it to see hardship as an opportunity and not as an obstacle and in this way we can turn what happens to us in to fuel we can be made better and brighter by everything that happens we can turn the obstacle into the way if at some point in your life marcus aurelius wrote if you should find anything better than justice honesty self-control and courage if you find anything better than that embrace it without reservation
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it must be an extraordinary thing indeed while marcus aurelius was writing meditations rome was invaded and a war followed that would last five years the tiber had one of its most severe floods in history destroying homes and livestock which brought famine into rome eventually winning that war returning soldiers brought home with them a deadly contagion which became known as the antonine plague crippled by famine and plagued numerous hostile tribes in the north seized the opportunity to band together and attack the romans for the remainder of his reign
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he faced the twin evils of plague and war and yet marcus mentions none of these horrific events in his journal he does however mention that there is no challenge no problem so big that it prevents him from responding with the four stoic virtues courage moderation justice and wisdom that is to not be afraid not to give in to our base or instincts not to put oneself above others not to get lost in what is up close but to see the bigger picture he said that everything he faced was an opportunity to respond with those four
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virtues which made even the most complex situation simple and straightforward just that you do the right thing he said the rest doesn't matter remember this principle marcus aurelius wrote when something threatens to cause you pain the thing itself was no misfortune at all to endure it and to prevail is a great good fortune things we didn't want to happen they happen to all of us including marcus aurelius a business deal falls through a grade comes back that we didn't expect a person we care about leaves us our instinct is to call these events
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unfortunate because they are not what we wanted it makes sense it's fortunate when you get what you want it's unfortunate when for whatever reason you don't right marcus aurelius proposes a different way of looking at things instead of telling ourselves that we're unfortunate because our expectations were disappointed he said we should do the opposite no it's fortunate that this has happened he says and i've remained unharmed by it not shattered by the present or frightened of the future
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it could have happened to anyone but not everyone could have remained unharmed by it too a stoic we're harmed only when our character is affected we're only harmed when we let go of what we believe in or when we drop our own standards it might not be desirable to lose money or a friend to fail at something or be criticized but how does that make us unfortunate we haven't been deprived of our ability to respond our character remains intact there's no rule that says you have to freak out by this be shattered by it or that you have to
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start getting anxious about the future no you're still in control you're still you and that's very fortunate you could leave life right now marcus aurelius said let that determine what you do and say and think pierre hedo called meditations a collection of spiritual exercises and there is no exercise that marcus does more than meditating on his mortality perhaps it was his own health issues that made him so acutely aware of death perhaps it was losing his father at an
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early age perhaps it was losing eight children perhaps it was the antonine plague that killed somewhere between 10 and 18 million people perhaps it was the realization in the power of momento mori the ancient practice of reflection on mortality that goes back to socrates who said that the proper practice of philosophy is about nothing else but dying and being dead most people push back on the memento mori that marcus aurelius did as being morbid or dark most people want to avoid thinking about death it's unpleasant
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it's scary it's sad why would anyone want to think about a thing they don't want to happen all of this misses the point it's not about making you anxious about how few days you have left the purpose is the opposite it's to free you to inspire you it is the key to happiness that unlocks empowerment gratitude charity and a bonus round attitude every moment of every day momento mori is the jolt that keeps us in the present moment marcus aurelius liked to ask who on earth would think of their mortality that they could only have a few minutes left on earth
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and go yes i should spend more time being upset or afraid or depressed our mortality isn't depressing it's energizing it turns down the volume on pointless stupid divisive matters we waste so much energy on because in the light of death very little is worth getting angry or stressed or overwhelmed about so keep reminding yourself just as marcus did you could leave life right now let that determine what you do and say and think

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