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Exercise: Prepare Your Own Stoic Reminders

The Stoics have always been known for their commitment to preparation.  Think of Cato immunizing himself against future hardship by inviting insults and leaving his home barefoot, or Seneca advising Lucilius that “It is precisely in times of immunity from care that the soul should toughen itself beforehand for occasions of greater stress.” The old…

Exercise: Hold Your Own Court Case

Cato the Younger was a politician and statesman in the late Roman Republic. He is remembered for his stubbornness, tenacity, immunity to bribes, and his unbending opposition to Julius Caesar (so unbending that he preferred death to being ruled by Caesar). He was a Stoic who exemplified virtue. When he was made quaestor in 65…

Exercise: Review Your Progress

As students of Stoicism, we don't just read about the philosophy and talk about its principles. We seek to practice it in daily life. In doing so, as anyone practicing anything does, we seek to become better. The better we become, the more we feel the benefits that the ancient Stoics spoke of - peace…

Exercise: Find Solitude

Within you there is a stillness and sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself, just as I can. Few people have that capacity and yet everyone could have it.Herman Hesse, Siddhartha When he was still involved in the day-to-day operations of Microsoft, Bill Gates had the habit of scheduling an…

Exercise: How To Invite Insults (And Why You Should)

No one enjoys the discomfort of ridicule. To be derided by someone you don’t know can be painful. When it’s someone you do know it can hurt even more. Ridicule is sent with different intentions by the aggressor - it can range from playful to sinister - but the intention doesn’t always produce a proportionate…

Exercise: Experience The View From Above

In human terms, there is no better (or higher) "view from above" than the one an astronaut experiences from outer space. As they gaze wide-eyed from their unfathomable vantage point, they see our planet as a tiny, fragile ball - a pale blue dot. For an astronaut in that moment, all of Earth's division and…

Exercise: Write Your Meditations Book One

Marcus Aurelius's Meditations is a collection of private notes the Roman Emperor wrote to himself for his own guidance and self-improvement. Written almost two thousand years ago, it remains one of the key texts on Stoic philosophy. Meditations consists of twelve books, covering different periods of Marcus's life. Book one begins as follows: 'From my…

Exercise: Learn To Want What You Have

From an early age, largely thanks to advertising, we’re told it’s normal to be on a satisfaction treadmill.  We feel dissatisfied when we develop desires that are unfulfilled. We strive to fulfil these desires in the hope of satisfaction. Before long, the fulfilled desire becomes the new normal and is taken for granted. Then the…

Excerise: Get To The Heart Of The Real Thing

The comedian David Mitchell was working on a jocular answer to the tricky question “What are things?” for his Guardian column when he wrote the following: “What is a call to prayer but a noisy sport without a scoring system? What is a drama but an unbelievably long comedy without any jokes? What is an…

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