Stoicism, an ancient philosophy developed in Athens around the early 3rd century BC, provides a timeless guide for leading a life of wisdom and tranquility. Its principles emphasize personal virtue, self-control, and understanding the things we can and cannot control. To integrate Stoic teachings into our modern lives, incorporating daily habits inspired by this philosophy can be immensely beneficial.
Here are eight Stoic habits that, when practiced consistently, can enhance our well-being and mindset.
1. Journal—Prepare for the Hours Ahead
The Stoic practice of journaling involves reflecting on the day ahead, planning actions, and contemplating potential challenges. This practice allows for intentional living, aligning actions with values and preparing for various scenarios. By setting clear objectives and mentally rehearsing potential obstacles, one gains a sense of control and reduces anxiety associated with the unknown.
2. Go for a Walk
Taking a walk is a simple yet powerful Stoic habit. It encourages mindfulness and connection with nature, providing an opportunity for contemplation and self-reflection. Walking allows us to clear our minds, gain perspective on our concerns, and appreciate the beauty of the world around us—reminding us of the impermanence of all things, a fundamental Stoic principle.
3. Do Some Deep Work
Deep work, a concept popularized by author Cal Newport, involves intense, undistracted focus on meaningful tasks. Stoicism advocates for engaging in work that aligns with our values and contributes to our purpose. By dedicating focused time to activities that matter most, we cultivate diligence, discipline, and excellence, reinforcing Stoic ideals of virtue and self-mastery.
4. Do a Kindness
Acts of kindness, no matter how small, resonate with Stoic principles of compassion and empathy. By consciously engaging in acts of kindness each day—whether through a kind word, a helping hand, or thoughtful gestures—we foster connections with others and enhance our own sense of purpose and contentment. Such actions remind us of the interconnectedness of humanity and the importance of contributing positively to the world.
5. Read. Read. Read.
Reading is a fundamental Stoic habit that aligns with the philosophy’s emphasis on continuous learning and self-improvement. By reading widely and diversely, we expose ourselves to different perspectives, gain knowledge, and refine our understanding of the world. Reading also enables us to reflect on the wisdom of past thinkers, including Stoic philosophers, providing valuable insights into leading a virtuous life.
6. Get Some Strenuous Exercise
Physical exercise aligns with Stoic ideals by promoting discipline, resilience, and self-control. Engaging in strenuous exercise challenges the body and mind, fostering a strong and resilient character. Regular workouts not only improve physical health but also cultivate mental fortitude, preparing us to face challenges and endure discomfort with grace and determination.
7. Connect with Friends and Family
Stoicism emphasizes the value of relationships and social connections in leading a fulfilling life. Taking time each day to connect with loved ones—whether through meaningful conversations, gestures of appreciation, or acts of support—strengthens our bonds and reminds us of the importance of human connection. Nurturing relationships aligns with Stoic teachings on virtues such as love, kindness, and empathy.
8. Meditate on Your Mortality
Meditating on our mortality, while initially unsettling, is a central Stoic practice aimed at cultivating gratitude, purpose, and a sense of urgency. Reflecting on the impermanence of life motivates us to prioritize what truly matters, making the most of our limited time. By contemplating our mortality regularly, we embrace life more fully, living in alignment with our values and appreciating the present moment.
Incorporating these eight Stoic habits into our daily routines can profoundly impact our outlook on life, helping us cultivate virtues such as wisdom, courage, and temperance. By embracing these practices, we enhance our well-being, resilience, and capacity for leading a purpose-driven and fulfilling life, just as the Stoic philosophers intended.