The Everyday Stoic is a popular account sharing Stoicism content across several social media platforms.
In a short time it has built up a following of over 100,000 on Instagram and 380,000 on YouTube.
It was great to be able to interview the man behind the account, William Mulligan, recently to find out a bit more about his motivation for creating The Everyday Stoic.
You can find The Everyday Stoic online here:
You have built a following in the hundreds of thousands through your interesting and informative Stoic content. Can you share some background on how you got started with Stoicism and what motivated you to create The Everyday Stoic?
I was given the recommendation of reading the Meditations, initially I sped through it like I did with all books at the time. I was simply reading it to say I’d finished. A few months later I was looking at self help blogs and kept coming across the Meditations as a recommendation, I decided to sit and read the book. This time I gave my best efforts to soak in the message. Upon second reading I was fascinated by the teachings of this Roman Emperor. Born almost 2000 years ago, his teachings felt so modern and intimate. I had a great interest in Aurelius and his teachings, reading over his book and applying the lessons to my life. It was quite a while after reading the Meditations that I looked into the philosophy of Stoicism. I felt like I discovered the blueprints to live a good life. I never had interest in history and certainly never considered myself academic but something about Stoicism fascinated me, I wanted to learn everything while applying it to my life.
I always believed that these teachings were reserved for academics so I’d never shown any interest in them. Yet the teachings of Stoicism came so natural to me, I began to understand that you didn’t have to be an intellect to understand the teachings of these Stoic philosophers. The teachings revolve around character, being keen to learn and to improve yourself are the keys to understanding Stoicism. After benefiting personally from Stoicism I felt an obligation to share the teachings with others.
I started The Everyday Stoic with the main goal of sharing the teachings to the broadest audience. I felt that there was a lot of gate keeping and seriousness when it came to Stoicism. From what I learned from Zeno, Stoicism is for all, it was never reserved for the elite and all were welcome to learn. I decided to take a less serious approach that hopefully those who are closed off to the academic side would be more open to learning. The feedback I got from posting Stoic themed memes and jokes was incredible so I try continue in that direction.
From a Stoic point of view how important do you feel it is to actually connect and engage with others on social media platforms in addition to producing content for them?
I believe it is very important to connect with others on social media and help guide them or give them the answers they are looking for. However I believe it is of greater importance to cultivate a community that will engage with each others and share ideas and lessons as a group. The majority of people following me will most likely know a great deal about Stoicism so I don’t think it’s too wise of me to act like my opinion is more important because I have a large following. I’ll give guidance and answers where I can but my main focus is to build the community that can interact with each other.
The tagline of The Everyday Stoic is “Stoicism for the everyday person” – which practical Stoicism concepts do you think every single person should be implementing in their lives?
To answer your question correctly I’d say the Dichotomy of control. If I was to give my best advice though in relation to Stoicism I’d say to read or listen to the Enchiridion multiple times. Upon each read through your will learn something new about yourself and about the world around you. The key though is to be open minded, unbiased and be completely honest with yourself when learning.
In addition to useful quotes you also publish excellent “Stoic reminders” on Instagram. Is it difficult to produce these regularly? Do you have any specific writing routine/process?
My job is very hectic and recently it has become difficult to write original and good Stoic reminders, you may notice that some are repeats at the current moment. When I can find some time to myself I think through all the struggles and problems I have faced throughout the week. I begin to give myself the best advice I can in regards to each problem, usually these will be very long answers that I’ll try shorten down for instagram while keeping the core message.
Do you have a daily Stoic routine or specific Stoic exercises you practice regularly?
I find that when life becomes a bit overwhelming or difficult I will practice “the view from above” , this really helps me to relax and realise that the “problems” I am facing in the current moment really are insignificant.
I will also practice negative visualisation regularly as I find this gives me a great sense of gratitude for the day and for all the blessings around me.
Who are your favourite ancient and modern Stoics? Which books/work of theirs would you recommend?
My favourite ancient Stoic is Marcus Aurelius, I’m sure everyone is aware of his book ‘meditations’ it is always my first recommendation to anyone looking for a book to read. I am a huge fan of Donald Robertson, his writing is great but mainly I’ll listen to podcast featuring him as he has an impressive knowledge on the subject of Stoicism and his teaching style is great. Also recently I have been a huge fan of Ryan Holidays approach to Stoicism through his social medias.
What’s next for The Everyday Stoic – will you explore other content and platforms? (e.g. podcast, blog, etc.)
I have so much planned for The Everyday Stoic such as a podcast, blog and free ebooks but I am in no rush to get them out as i am very busy at work. Currently I am working on longer form educational videos for YouTube that remain entertaining to a broad audience, I just want the format to be correct before I run with the idea. For a long time I have been writing a book based on the concept of Stoicism for the everyday person, it is going really well and I’m excited to share it when it’s ready.
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, William. Finally, the question I ask all interview guests – in terms of what the philosophy means to you, What is Stoicism?
As William B Irvine said, it is a guide to the good life. I believe that Stoicism can guide us all to living a better life and also a life that is better for our community. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what your circumstances are, Stoicism puts us all on the same level.