the daily stoic book summary

Book Summary: The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

The Book in Three Sentences

In this book summary of The Daily Stoic, you’ll learn 366 stoic lessons. The idea is to read them over the course of the year so that you can live a good and happy life. The teachings come from luminaries such as Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus, Zeno, and more.

The Daily Stoic Summary


Stoicism is an old philosophy, but it’s often misunderstood as emotionless. This tool to reach self-mastery, perseverance, and wisdom can help you live a great life though. Some famous stoics include George Washington, Walt Whitman, Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Stoicism was a school of philosophy that started in the third century BC in Athens. According to this philosophy, virtue is happiness, and our perception is what causes our problems. Stoicism asserts that we can’t rely on the outside world or reason. We can achieve mental clarity by controlling our perceptions. 

Stoicism is more relevant than ever: we’re overstressed, overworked, and struggling with countless responsibilities, and this ancient branch of philosophy can help. This book is a compilation of translations from three of the most famous stoics: Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius. The book is divided into three disciplines: perception, action, and will. At the same time, each disciple is divided into themes.

Part I: The Discipline of Perception

January: Clarity

  1. Determine which matters are under your control and which ones aren’t. Time spent on things you can’t change is time we waste.
  2. Education has a purpose, we’re trying to learn something and learning gives us freedom.
  3. Say no more often. This is hard, but some commitments can be overwhelming and time-consuming. Saying no to something unimportant lets you say yes to the things that matter.
  4. The three main disciplines of stoicism are perception, action, and will. Control your perceptions, direct your actions, and accept what’s beyond your control.
  5. Have an end in mind. Although you might never reach it, directing your efforts toward a purpose lets us know which actions to take on a daily basis. A goal gives us direction.
  6. Don’t be busy changing unimportant things. Don’t ignore the deep questions. Determine who you are and what you stand for.
  7. Your mind is prepared for the following: choice to do, refusal of temptation, yearning to improve, repulsion of negativity, preparation for the future, purpose to guide us, and assent to accept what’s outside of our control. Everything else inside our minds is pollution or corruption.
  8. Harmless practices can become addictions. These habits can take away freedom. Never lose the freedom to abstain from something.
  9. We can’t control external events, but we can control how we react to them. This gives us power. We shouldn’t extend our reach outward, but inward.
  10. The stoics look for steadiness, stability, and tranquility. We achieve these traits by filtering the outside world using our judgment. Develop proper judgment and use it to get clarity.
  11. The stoics were common people, but they were always at peace. Serenity and stability can be obtained through our choices, not the environment. Don’t avoid disruptions to your peace, avoid disruptive judgments.
  12. The only thing we have is our ability to make choices.
  13. We should know what’s inside our circle of control and what’s outside. The circle of control only includes one thing: our mind. This makes everything clear and simple because it reduces the number of things we have to consider. The only thing you can manage is our choices.
  14. There are many temptations in the form of food, technology, and so on. There have always been temptations though. We avoid such temptations by having strong values.
  15. Achieve a state of mind where you believe in yourself. This produces tranquility. By having clarity of vision, you know you’re headed in the right direction. Identify your path and stay in it. Make adjustments as you go, but ignore distractions.
  16. Never stop thinking and operate out of habit. Determine what you do out of routine and ask yourself if that’s the best way to do it.
  17. Fear of failure is natural but always do your best. By being lazy, your quality of life and your ability to deal with the external world is at risk.
  18. Seeing what others can’t gives us clarity and harmony.
  19. Regardless of your circumstances, focus on what is in your control and never on what isn’t. Our freedom of choice is a constant in life, so take advantage of it. This gives you clarity.
  20. Whatever happened, happened and you can’t change it. But you can restart whenever you desire.
  21. Most successful people have a morning ritual: they meditate, exercise, or journal. The activity itself isn’t that important, but making reflection a daily habit is all about finding moments of quiet alone time.
  22. Review each day using a physical or digital journal. Determine what makes you happy or unhappy.
  23. Money doesn’t solve all your problems. External things can never fix internal problems.
  24. Judge what you read, and once it passes the trial, absorb its content. The words that resonate with you should be part of who you are. Cultivate deep study.
  25. Have clarity about what you love most in the world. If you cultivate interests below your financial means, you can do what you love the most and be happy even if you don’t have money. The less we have, the freer we are.
  26. Mantras are sacred phrases that give you clarity and spiritual guidance. Repeat or write your own mantras and use them to get the clarity you need.
  27. Epictetus refers to three areas of training: desire, impulses/motivations, and judgment/reason. Put effort into these areas to get clarity and success.
  28. Find a role model. Look at what they do and what they don’t and copy it.
  29. Don’t get lost in distractions, approach each task as if it’s your last. Just do your job.
  30. Choose carefully what to care about and what to know about, especially in a modern society that values media consumption and hyperconnectivity.
  31. The busier we are, the more we neglect philosophy. We feel stressed and forget what matters. When that happens, slow down.

February: Passions and Emotions

  1. When you find yourself getting mad, remember that anger distracts you. Anger is a mistake, a weakness, and a trap. Remaining cold and unemotional when it matters is a strength.
  2. When you disagree with someone, you don’t have to argue. Don’t let your impulses control you. We should be the ones in control, not our feelings.
  3. Anxiety is futile.
  4. Reacting emotionally will make most situations worse than they have to. The ability to control your emotions can make you invincible.
  5. All kinds of impulses (both high and low) must be controlled.
  6. Most people are driven by something they can’t control. Don’t be afraid to sit still. Never choose war when you can be at peace, even when the man in the arena is admired. Only choose to be in the arena if you’re doing it for the right reasons.
  7. Power, fear, and mania can be a deadly combination. Fear can have the opposite effect and make your worst nightmare a reality.
  8. When you freak out, remember that your reaction isn’t helping.
  9. Cultivate the power of not having an opinion about the things you don’t know about.
  10. Anger never solves anything. If anything, anger makes a problem even worse. Like most extreme emotions, anger is a toxic fuel.
  11. Absolute power doesn’t corrupt people. People’s inner strength and self-awareness determine how they’ll react. You can be a tyrant or a king. The decision is up to you.
  12. Stoicism can help you with your problems, but remember that you can design a life where you don’t have problems, or at least, you can determine which ones you’ll care about.
  13. Sometimes indulging is worse than resisting. Self-control gives you pleasure and temptation is a regret.
  14. Your mind (your reason and intelligence) should be in charge, not your emotions. Let intelligence take over.
  15. Many of the things we dread, never become a reality. The cause is an illusion, but how you feel is real. Wake up from a nightmare that will never happen.
  16. Even when you don’t agree with specific requests, do them anyway. Don’t make things than they have to be.
  17. Don’t make happiness conditional. By postponing happiness to a potential future, you ruin your chances of being happy now.
  18. Prepare for the storm. Have a plan for the events that might happen.
  19. When you see something that excites you, wait patiently. Be grateful that you’re in a position where you can see it, enjoy the moment, be selfless, and create moments that might make others the same way.
  20. Be careful what you wish for, you might get it, and when you do, you’ll realize it wasn’t the answer to your problems.
  21. A ceaseless desire for something comes with its own set of problems. We should want little or nothing at all. Wanting nothing makes us invincible. Our goals and the things we want shouldn’t control us.
  22. It’s easy to do something, but it is harder to stop and think. When in doubt, wait and prepare yourself.
  23. Don’t react to external events because that won’t change anything. Circumstances don’t care about your feelings.
  24. Situations need context to be considered good or bad. Our reaction is what determines if it’s one or the other. Don’t attach any labels and don’t react.
  25. Regardless of who you are and what you do, you’ll eventually be forgotten. Enjoy your brief time on earth and don’t react to the emotions that make you feel bad.
  26. It’s easy to get mad and fight back, but you’ll end up regretting the decision.
  27. If you were immune to all the things that trouble everyone (money, weight, death, and so on), you’d be powerful. Be indifferent to most things and remember that they’ll disappear eventually.
  28. When you make a mistake, it seems that the chaos of the situation has made your plan, values, ideas, or philosophies abandon you. But they are still there and they’re unaffected.
  29. You can’t get everything you want in life. Focus and prioritize. Get rid of all the needless things. Aim to be balanced and happy.

March: Awareness

  1. Philosophy is scary, but to become a philosopher, you should use reason to question your belief and emotions.
  2. Don’t resist the idea of self-assessment, even if you have to admit flaws or mistakes. Value yourself less than you’re worth. Over time, you’ll learn to judge yourself honestly.
  3. The outside world is confusing. But instead of focusing on the outside, you can choose to focus on the inside. By being more self-aware, we can be stronger on the outside. 
  4. Never feel like you have to do anything to impress others or fulfill urges that go unquestioned. Don’t be a slave to money, possessions, positions, and so on. What are your obligations and which ones are self-imposed? Are they necessary? Are you truly free?
  5. There’s a hidden cost to accumulating things. All the things we own have a cost, either physical or mental. You might be paying a price without realizing it.
  6. Don’t tell stories about your past. It’s misleading and boring, and you’ll look self-absorbed. Live in the present, not in the past. When spending time with people, listen and connect, don’t perform.
  7. Self-awareness is a tool to evaluate the self. It’s a way to question instincts, patterns, and assumptions.
  8. We protect our physical selves, but we’re much more lenient when it comes to our minds and attention. We let social media, television, the internet, and other people control us. This is a waste and the worst part is that it’s self-inflicted. We must protect our minds, they are our most prized possession.
  9. Be careful who you allow to be part of your life, they have a big influence on you.
  10. Let a great and novel person take over and guide your actions even when that person isn’t physically present. Hopefully, if you do things right, you can become that person for someone else.
  11. Successful people have given up their freedom. They have to wear suits, attend certain parties, and hang out with people they don’t like. To remain successful, they became someone they don’t like.
  12. No one is wrong on purpose. People do things, thinking they’re right. Seeing things this way makes you tolerant and understanding even if you agree with other people’s actions or not.
  13. We fight against certain things because we’re so focused on our plan that we fault to see a bigger plan. Everything is guided by reason, even if we can’t see it.
  14. Ego is the enemy because negativity impacts our ability to learn and grow. If we think we’re perfect, we won’t be able to learn or earn the respect of others.
  15. We want the past to be better than it was and the future to go exactly as planned. By doing this, you’re ignoring the present. The only thing we have is the present moment, but it’ll soon be over. The present will be enough if you enjoy every minute of it.
  16. Your ability to reason is what lets you improve and become better. You’re blessed to be able to use logic to navigate through life. You can alter your own circumstances and other people’s and that’s a big responsibility.
  17. The image you present is not who you are. The only thing that’s admirable about an image is when it’s the result of effort, activity, and choices.
  18. External objects have no access to the mind. If something frustrates you or overwhelms you, it doesn’t come from the inside but from the outside. You can’t blame anyone for your emotions, they are up to you.
  19. Even if it doesn’t feel that way, you’re always the one in control. You can change the labels you attach to something. It can be good or bad. It’s up to you.
  20. No one wants to face difficulties in life, but never pretend that it won’t happen.
  21. You don’t have to wait until the next vacation or weekend to go on a retreat. You can find a retreat right now by looking inside you. This will give you peace, not something else.
  22. A degree doesn’t mean you’re educated, it’s a start, but nothing else. Awareness and reflection are ways to educate yourself too.
  23. Greed leads to lapses in judgment. Use reason to regulate your own vices.
  24. Study, but live your life too. You won’t be able to study philosophy unless you live. Also, you’ll soon learn if the teachings you learned have worked and impacted your choices and actions. Actions such as calling your parents, bathing your children, getting married, and going to work are part of philosophy.
  25. To be wealthy, you can get everything you want or you can want everything you have. If you’re always struggling to get more, you’ll never be free.
  26. Deeper forces share rational minds. Examples include philosophy, biology, and neurology. Stoicism is a great start, but don’t neglect other disciplines.
  27. When people around you spend a lot of money on useless things, remember that they won’t be able to take them with them when they die. Don’t see this as a good investment. It doesn’t matter how much money unnecessary things cost, they’re not worth it anyway. Just be better at spotting essential and unessential things.
  28. Not having a plan leads to failure. Plans aren’t perfect, but not having them overwhelms us. Don’t play by year and always have a plan.
  29. Don’t do anything to impress others. Those people are flawed and easily distracted.
  30. Our lives should be ruled by reason because if they aren’t, another force, virtue, or emotion will take over. Act consciously and deliberately and whatever it is that rules your life, evaluate it beforehand.
  31. Your mind should understand the power to control itself. Otherwise, it’ll be shaken by external events. Train yourself, and establish habits to be disciplined. Once you do it, you’ll identify what’s impossible, shortsighted, and unnecessary.

April: Unbiased Thought

  1. The way you perceive the world around you will affect your mind. If you’re immersed in negative thoughts, everything will seem negative.
  2. We’re exposed to external influences. Don’t allow those influences to penetrate your mind.
  3. Don’t wish for things without putting in the effort to accomplish them. Don’t work against yourself.
  4. Regardless of who you are, what you do for a living, and what kind of life you live, never forget what’s truly important. Success shouldn’t change who you are. Don’t be tempted to modify your character. Despite good fortune, reason always leads the way.
  5. Experience and knowledge can help you make decisions in an instant, but those skills can also contribute to prejudices and assumptions. The former is a strength and the latter is a weakness. Question your thoughts constantly. Trust, but verify.
  6. We’re all going to interact with bad people at some point, we just have to be ready. If you’re prepared, you should act with patience and forgiveness.
  7. We’re not as smart as we think we are. Windom comes from questioning ourselves and from humility, not from mistrust and arrogance.
  8. A long time ago, people spent a lot of time making sure that the money they received was genuine, but they accepted the most important thoughts without question. The fact that a lot of people believe something doesn’t make it true. Test your notions on a regular basis.
  9. Following your instincts can guide you toward problems. Be aware and analyze your emotions, question the accuracy of your assumptions, and only move forward using constructive ones. What feels right doesn’t make it the best solution.
  10. We have an “observing eye” that sees things as they are and a “perceiving eye” that sees things as they’re supposed to be. The latter causes anguish because we’re trying to judge events, but events are objective.
  11. You can’t learn unless you’re humble. Even if you’re smart and successful, there’s always someone smarter and more successful.
  12. Being attracted to new and shiny things is dangerous.
  13. Less is more. This is true in all areas of life.
  14. Be an expert in what matters: your life, habits, and tendencies. Find expertise in what matters the most. Learn about happiness and meaning, not facts about a sports team.
  15. Pay your taxes. They go to several programs and services. You’re not special and paying taxes is a good problem to have. Financial taxes aren’t the only taxes you pay. Everything comes at a price. Famous people are criticized. When you travel somewhere, you have to wait. Being part of a relationship means frustrations and disagreement from time to time. Don’t argue or avoid taxes, just pay them.
  16. Observe your thoughts to see what they provoke. Thoughts can construct or destroy. Look for destructive patterns and break them.
  17. A word can have different meanings. What’s your default interpretation of things?  Choose the correct inference, so that this leads to the right response.
  18. Don’t have an opinion about everything. Some things just are which means they aren’t good or bad.
  19. Learning from anyone.
  20. Never covet something without thinking. Wealth isn’t the answer. Values such as wisdom, self-control, justice, and courage are.
  21. Attention matters. Nowadays everything is fighting for your attention. Be careful what you allow into your life. Attention is a habit and letting your attention wander is a bad habit that leads to mistakes. Your attention is one of the most important resources you have. Protect it at all costs.
  22. To be rational, we need to look inward, examine ourselves critically, and make our own decisions.
  23. We have three parts: body, breath, and mind. The first two matter, but they’re less yours than our mind. Our mind is truly ours and we have to treat it right.
  24. See something you envy or covet as something shameful or embarrassing. Even when something looks perfect, it doesn’t mean that it is and there’s probably something wrong with it. This doesn’t make you a cynic, but it provides objectivity.
  25. Don’t be afraid to be embarrassed for changing your mind. Embarrassing would be to learn new things and always think in the same way.
  26. Don’t treat every situation as life or death. Be generous with your mistakes and other people’s, we are all still learning after all.
  27. Stoicism is about looking at problems from every angle. In some negative situations, a shallow look is the superior way of looking at it.
  28. Wanting something from others and accepting their offer makes you their servant. Be indifferent to them and what they have.
  29. Look at nature or the sky to see that you’re not the most important being in the universe.
  30. Don’t obsess over your own opinions. Question these invisible scripts because you’ll become your own compass. In this way, your thoughts and convictions will truly be your own.

Part III: The Disciple of Action

May: Right Action

  1. Stoics have no uniform and no stereotype. The only way to recognize a stoic is by their character.
  2. Spend real and uninterrupted time thinking about your priorities and then determine the actions you need to do to carry them out.
  3. Philosophy isn’t about memorizing quotes and then mindlessly repeating them. Don’t repeat stuff, just let your actions illustrate the knowledge you have,
  4. There’s no real value to spending money. The people who have money and give it to charity and use old things are more impressive than those who spend money on lavish parties and extravagant houses.
  5. Your mind is an asset and the thing you should work on the most.
  6. Being beautiful isn’t about genes, it’s about having certain values and it’s about character. Traits such as justice and commitment to duty are deeper than appearances. Adopting certain traits requires dedication and sacrifice. That’s true beauty.
  7. To have a good day, do good things. Sources of joy outside your control are limited.
  8. Right things come from our reasoned choice. The right choice won’t always be rewarded and it won’t always succeed, but it’ll still be right.
  9. Once today is over, it’ll be gone forever, so do your best work. Make something you’re proud of today before the day is over.
  10. Flattery is empty and accomplishes nothing. Don’t admire the words from this book, use them and follow their example.
  11. Doing something wrong comes at a high price. By rejecting ethics and discipline, you’re opening the doors to chaos and mystery. Doing this right gives you peace of mind.
  12. When mistreated, respond with kindness. This makes the other person and you better. Only people with great strength can respond with kindness. Be that person.
  13. We are the products of our habits and our thoughts. Do the activities you plan correspond to the person you want to become?
  14. Your happiness shouldn’t depend on achieving certain goals because if fate gets in the way, you won’t be happy. We should take pleasure from our actions rather than their results. The ultimate goal shouldn’t be to win but to play the game with full effort.
  15. We shouldn’t desire what others have. Don’t gather and hoard. Appreciate what you already have.
  16. To write jokes, Jerry Seinfeld put an X on a calendar and tried to get a chain going without breaking it. Success is about momentum. To start good habits and eliminate bad ones, use the chain method.
  17. Philosophy isn’t a goal, it’s something we apply over the course of our life. When it comes to self-development, you have to remember you’ll never arrive at a destination. You’ll never be perfect. Perfection is an ideal, not the end.
  18. It’s easier to engage with the past and future than it’s the present. How you handle little things says a lot about you.
  19. To truly learn, you have to do something several times. Knowing something isn’t enough, you have to practice it so much that it becomes a part of you. This also applies to philosophical principles. Practice even if it seems unnecessary.
  20. The most dedicated readers in the world won’t get a prize when they die. When it comes to reading and learning, prioritize quality over quantity.
  21. You can leave the boxing ring at any time, but there are consequences. The trials you face are all opportunities for using what you’ve learned and staying to fight requires discipline.
  22. We can always tell what’s right. The difficulty comes from deciding what to do now. Make today the day that you start to do good and not tomorrow.
  23. A long and full life isn’t about how many years you’ve lived. It’s about focusing on doing the task at hand as well as possible.
  24. Good luck isn’t defined by random factors outside of your control, but by a probability that’s influenced by the right decisions and the right preparation. You can do nothing and wait for good fortune to appear or you can focus on the right thing and prepare to get lucky that way.
  25. To find our essence, we have to work and that requires ignoring certain emotions and material luxuries.
  26. We can’t control how other people think, so don’t put yourself at the mercy of their opinion. Don’t look for the approval of others. Don’t think about what others think. Think about what you think and whether your actions are the right thing to do or not.
  27. Little actions over time make you who you are. The individual actions are small, but their cumulative impact isn’t. Choose the right way over the easy way.
  28. To make decisions don’t get upset and remember the purposes and principles that are most important to you.
  29. The mind and the body exist to be used. That’s why you feel funny after not going to the gym for a while or after taking an extended vacation. Should you not engage in anything productive, you’ll feel frustrated and make mistakes. Don’t buy things, go out, create conflict, or eat empty calories, just work.
  30. Being busy has nothing to do with being productive. Determine what you do, why you do it, and where that will take you. Don’t continue doing it unless you have a good answer.
  31. According to stoicism, our job is to be good human beings.

June: Problem Solving

  1. When the stoic mind works well, nothing can stop it. Always expect obstacles. Use a reverse clause to learn from what happens and move on. Our mind has the power to change paths.
  2. Take a bird’s eye view of people, situations, and problems. By looking at things from another perspective, you see how small everything is.
  3. Stoicism is all about flexibility and determination. When you face a problem, try different solutions until you find one.
  4. Life isn’t easy or fair. Our ancestors survived adversity and struggled and we still possess those qualities.
  5. Stop complaining. Self-pity doesn’t help. Instead of spending time and energy thinking about how we were wrong, get to work and solve your problems.
  6. You don’t have to commit to one path forever, especially if that path is flawed. Have the courage, discipline, and awareness to identify a better path and move to it. You can’t keep changing paths forever though.
  7. You can’t choose your parents, but if they were poor mentors, you can learn from those you want to be like.
  8. Ignore the big picture and focus on the small things. This is “the process” and it was created by University of Alabama coach, Nick Saban. The process is all about doing the right actions in the right order.
  9. Bad habits are easy to stop the sooner you identify them.
  10. When you look at someone who’s accomplished something, don’t be jealous, be motivated. One attitude propels you onward and then upward.
  11. Getting angry only makes things worse. Don’t do anything right away and then plan the solution.
  12. No one can tell us what to do. Instead, what we must do is spend a sizeable part of our lives preparing and studying. Even if you plan, you have to cultivate the ability to adapt and change. Become creative, independent, self-confident, and a problem-solver.
  13. We’re fighting all the time. Fight for your goals, against impulses, and to become the person you want to be. To win, you need discipline, fortitude, courage, clearheadedness, selflessness, and sacrifice. To lose, you need cowardice, rashness, disorganization, overconfidence, weakness, and selfishness. These are attributes that matter in war and in life.
  14. Sometimes you have to stop doing things your way and open yourself to the teachings of those who lived before you. This might not solve the problem entirely, but at least you’re not using the same technique that hasn’t worked so far.
  15. Wise people seem to have fewer problems than the rest. This happens because they don’t expect the impossible, they consider the best and worst-case scenarios, and they are prepared for things to go wrong.
  16. You won’t be able to solve every problem that comes your way. At some point, you might need some help from someone else.
  17. There’s a choice between endless offense and resilient defense.  Only you can determine which one you’ll use.
  18. Whatever happens, you should be prepared.
  19. Seeing the big picture is important at times, but it can also be overwhelming. By focusing on the present, we remove intimidating thoughts.
  20. The person in charge has to remain calm. Calm is contagious. Instill calm by example. Being calm amid the chaos is an asset.
  21. Walking can help us clear our heads and get fresh air. It also gives us time and space for work. When feeling stressed and overwhelmed, take a walk.
  22. Hope isn’t a strategy. Don’t do the same thing expecting different results. We all fail at some point, but not everyone learns from failure. Sticking with unsuccessful patterns is easy, so do the hard thing and make tweaks to obtain the desired result.
  23. We all want freedom, happiness, and respect. These are straightforward things that are easy to acquire yet we go to extreme lengths to get them. Freedom is in your choices. Don’t take the long way to get those things, they’re in front of you already.
  24. A wise and educated person isn’t quarrelsome. They resist the temptation to argue, fight, and create conflict.
  25. Hearing someone is usually the solution, not talking. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
  26. Sometimes the solution to a problem involves doing the opposite, you can break bad patterns by trying to do the opposite every once in a while.
  27. How you handle minor adversities reveals a lot about your character.
  28. The stoics encouraged self-criticism, but that’s where it stops. There’s no flagellation, no self-esteem problems, or self-loathing. Self-criticism is constructive. Punishing yourself has nothing to do with self-improvement.
  29. Strive to become better and avoid using excuses to justify what you do. No one’s perfect, they worked to do what they do, it became a priority. To solve your problems, dedicate yourself to finding a solution.
  30. There will always be obstacles and you won’t be able to carry out your plans. This is good because your mind can adapt. Turn the obstacle upside down. Use obstacles as an opportunity to learn lessons, practice patience, start over, get stronger, and be forgiving.

July: Duty

  1. In stoicism, everyone and everything has a purpose. The job of the stoics is to be good. Do your job.
  2. There are many decisions you’ll have to make. The right choice is usually intuitive.
  3. Turn your “have to do” (an obligation) into a “get to do” (a privilege). While the former is a  burden, the latter is an opportunity to be excited about. Try to see everything that happens as an opportunity you’re fortunate to do.
  4. You must keep the goddess inside you alive.
  5. Doing good isn’t easy most of the time. Doing bad is tempting most of the time. Do what’s hard and resist temptations.
  6. Struggling to get out of bed has always been a problem for people, but we have to get up to do our job and carry out our calling. Get up and the earlier you do it, the better.
  7. Reading and studying teach us to be good humans.
  8. Stop complaining and be the owner of your life. Develop your character and self-respect.
  9. Philosophy is essential for leaders and we all lead in some way. Philosophy gives us the tools to do our job well.
  10. When you don’t have to do something and you choose to do it anyway, you’re truly free.
  11. You shouldn’t invest everything in a company or creative pursuit. Not because it isn’t rewarding, but because we should invest in ourselves first. Treat your life as seriously as you treat your business idea.
  12. Don’t procrastinate in your actions. Don’t get confused in your conversations. Don’t wander in your thoughts. Don’t be passive-aggressive on your soul. Don’t be all about business in life.
  13. Be a good example to others and expect nothing in return. That’s the job of a leader.
  14. Natural ability can be dangerous because it might lead to overconfidence. Take it slow and be humble.
  15. Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Don’t expect thanks or recognition.
  16. To what cause, mission, or purpose are you committed? Discover what you’re supposed to do in life and fulfill it.
  17. Don’t abandon your path because someone has a problem with it and don’t abandon those people either.
  18. Someone is free to do something as long as it doesn’t affect someone else’s body and space. So live your life in such a way that it doesn’t impact others negatively. Accept that others will do the same.
  19. Forgive others. Be gentle and gracious.
  20. Some acts go against nature and humanity. Our sense of justice goes deep. Support your inclination to justice with boundaries and commitments.
  21. While a cat can spend all day sleeping, humans have a higher obligation than animals. Humans were made for cooperation. Get up because others are depending on you.
  22. Doing the right thing is a choice. No one is forcing you to do it.
  23. Respond to honor and dishonor the same way, with indifference. Don’t take things personally.  
  24. Do whatever you can to help people suffering, but always remember that disturbing news (and your reaction to them) won’t change a thing.
  25. Some people try to make it to the top by ignoring their families or by being selfish. If this happens, your attitude can lead to meaningful accomplishments, but they come at a high cost.
  26. Humanity is capable of evil, not just actively, but passively. The perpetrators are evil, but so are the common people who choose to not get involved.
  27. Some things are not enough (money, possessions, love, and so on), but there is something better: real virtue. Virtue is a combination of justice, honesty, discipline, and courage. Showing high moral standards is the only thing worth getting.
  28. Everyone has had different environments growing up. Be understanding and patient with others.
  29. Philosophy is a “cure for the self”. Philosophy helps you be confident and invincible.
  30. According to Seneca, joy is a deep state. The stoics were fully content with their life and they could recover from adversity.
  31. The fact that we work doesn’t mean that we’re immune to getting old. Work is an important part of life, but it isn’t everything.

August: Pragmatism

  1. Don’t expect things to go perfectly for you to start something. The conditions might never be right, just start with what you have.
  2. See difficult situations and obstacles as opportunities, not as something that prevents you from learning.
  3. You don’t need the right setup to thrive. Become pragmatic and adaptable whenever you are and with whatever you have. The best place to work or live a good life is here, wherever here is.
  4. Self-assurance is something we all have inside us and no one can take it away from us. Ignore your emotions, don’t get distracted, and don’t get emotional. Focus.
  5. The ability to listen is a rare trait. Build strength and self-sufficiency by remaining silent.
  6. Believe in yourself even when you’re likely to fail. Do everything humanly possible to succeed and you just might.
  7. Principles and pragmatism can go hand in hand. You can have a profession and still have integrity and other values one doesn’t associate with it. You can live well regardless of where you come from.
  8. Idealism shouldn’t be your trap. Don’t compromise your standards, but don’t look for perfection either. Take the small steps that move things forward. Looking for perfection is an excuse.
  9. Don’t get carried away. See things as they first appear.
  10. Perfection seldom leads to perfection but disappointment.
  11. To deal with real-life situations, theories aren’t always useful. How to deal with situations in practical matters is important.
  12. The stoics borrowed ideas from each other, but that’s because they were concerned with what worked rather than with authorship. To truly understand what you read, you must make changes or improvements. To be original, put the theory into practice.
  13. Let your reason be your guide.
  14. Arguing is a waste of time and energy. Philosophy is for using it, not for arguing with others.
  15. People who have strong character (those that are dependable, trustworthy, and excellent) are consistent. Their qualities permeate every action they take. You can’t be courageous once and expect to be described as courageous, you have to sustain that quality throughout your life. You are the sum of your actions. Choose them wisely.
  16. Turn your curse into a blessing. Use your abilities that others underestimate to your advantage. What you see as something that’s holding you back can be a source of power.
  17. Don’t blame anyone or anything.
  18. Think through difficult tasks and pick your battles. This is what the stoics called “reasoned choice”.
  19. Eliminate what’s inessential.
  20. An outward transformation is shallow. If you’re going to change anything, make sure it’s something from your inside.
  21. Don’t feel bad about what might happen. Be busy working while the news (good or bad) come.
  22. Don’t waste your time (our most precious resource) on unimportant things. By giving them your time and attention, you’re making them important and you’re making what truly matters (family, health, and commitments) less important.
  23. Don’t persuade someone to change, show them instead.
  24. Look for wisdom. It doesn’t matter where or who is from. Focus on merit rather than affiliation.
  25. Traditions seem like time-tested ideas, but don’t forget that they were once new and provocative. Try new ideas and embrace them when they work.
  26. Unfortunate events can lead to great results.
  27. Find humor in despair. Choose to laugh about your misery, at least, you’d be making things better instead of worse.
  28. Even if you’re wealthy, don’t be dependent or addicted to it. Don’t be a slave to luxury and wealth. Humans don’t need that much to be happy.
  29. You can try to have more wealth or you could just want less. The choice is yours. 
  30. When you decide to do something, be committed to it. You can’t say you’re going to do something and then do it reluctantly.
  31. We all make mistakes, so be as forgiving of others as you are of yourself.

Part III: The Discipline of Will

September: Fortitude and Resilience

  1. Train your soul to be strong and resilient. Allow yourself to be uncomfortable from time to time.
  2. Hearing hurts and so does philosophy at times. But this allows you to persevere through difficulties.
  3. To achieve victory, you have to dedicate every second to training. Don’t live life halfheartedly.
  4. Misfortune made you who you are. When something bad happens, it can be a formative experience.
  5. Focus on the only thing you can control, yourself.
  6. Evil people can make you suffer, but they can’t change who you are. No one can force you to give up your principles. The power of your mind and making your own decisions is something that no one can take away from you. Never give it up.
  7. Our ability to reason and made choices is a hidden power. Always focus on your choices.
  8. Don’t rely on fortune and whenever take it for granted. When everything goes according to plan, keep your rational soul strong, you’ll deen it when adversity comes.
  9. Tough situations are worse when you panic. Resist turning into fear.
  10. Common fears include poverty, hunger, or isolation. But if you were to try to live in poverty, you’d realize that it isn’t that scary. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations and do it when everything is well. This prepares us for times of adversity.
  11. Anyone could be forced to live with less, but we can prepare for it. 
  12. Overconfidence is a liability, but if you’re humble, you won’t have problems.
  13. The inner citadel is a fortress that guards our soul. Although our bodies are vulnerable, our soul is unreachable. Don’t betray your fortress from the inside or it might fail. Resist your fears and don’t lose your nerve.
  14. When we yearn for something, we usually do it for selfish reasons. We want divine intervention to help us. What we need isn’t spiritual support, but fortitude and clarity and we have those things already, we just have to use them.
  15. Reading books to impress others is shallow. Use the knowledge you read to prepare for adversity. Nurture the ideas of stoicism.
  16. It’s natural to envy lucky people because they have it easy, but is luck something to admire? It involves no skill after all. Instead, we should admire people who persevere, those who work hard, and those who are honest.
  17. Never hate a hater. If there’s something within your control to influence or change their opinion, do it. Otherwise, let’s simply accept that person even if we disagree with their opinions.
  18. No pain is unending. Be strong enough to withstand it.
  19. Don’t be a prisoner of determination. It’s admirable to complete everything you set out to do, but things can change and we must adapt. Flexibility is a sort of strength too.
  20. Life has a lot in common with wrestling. You have to fight your limitations and emotions and we must train our will.
  21. Unexpected occurrences will catch us off guard at one point or another. If the order and peace we were expecting were interrupted, we just have to find our way back.
  22. The way in which we respond to problems shows who we are. See difficulties as a chance to learn and improve, not as something to complain about. Don’t avoid difficulties, look for them.
  23. Train yourself to develop healthy habits. Give up anger, and avoid gossip. Practice often.
  24. Know that any adversity could happen to you. Be prepared for it.
  25. We’re all slaves to something. We’re all addicted to something (to our routines, to coffee, comfort, social networks, and so on). Epictetus said that to be free, you should never desire something that is in someone else’s control. Resist these urges whenever possible. Make yourself vulnerable and see how you respond to it.
  26. Study even when you’re on a vacation. Enjoy your downtime actively. Take a day off from work, but never have a day off from studying.
  27. Don’t hope for good fortune, hope for a strong character.
  28. Look at all the things you can’t control and be delighted at the one thing you do: how you react to them. This is our ultimate power.
  29. Never forget how strong you used to be: how big your first paycheck seemed, how comfortable your tiny apartment was, how tasty that cheap food was. Even if things go wrong, you’ll be fine.
  30. Don’t let others compromise your mind. No matter what happens outside, your mind can remain untouched if you want it.

October: Virtue and Kindness

  1. Regardless of where you are in life, today is a good time as any to let virtue shine. Just make sure it continues to shine as long as you’re alive.
  2. You can invest in many things (stocks, bonds, property, relationships, accomplishments, and so on). The best asset you can have is to invest in yourself. Be good and wise. This kind of investment makes you immune to market disasters and it’ll never abandon you. When everything else falls apart, you can rely on your virtue and inner strength.
  3. Life is interconnected. Each of us plays a role in the world we live in.
  4. We are part of something bigger. What’s food for us isn’t necessarily good for the community. Good actions by the community are good for the individual though.
  5. Cruel and hurtful things can’t be unsaid.
  6. Practice empathy and selflessness, especially when others around you are successful and you aren’t. Cheer for others and put jealousy aside.
  7. Doing the wrong thing makes you feel bad. Try to be self-aware when you’re about to do something wrong.
  8. Pleasure makes you feel good, but it isn’t as powerful as virtue. Pleasure is powerful but momentarily and we soon want more. Wisdom, good character, and kindness last longer.
  9. Set standards and don’t compromise them. Everything you do in life is an opportunity to do good.
  10. To live a tranquil life, you need two words according to Aulus Gellius: persist and resist. The principles that determine what to persist in and what to resist are reverence and justice or what we know as virtue.
  11. Cultivate a reputation for honesty. Live a life where you don’t have to announce that you’re going to be honest. Be honest all the time.
  12. Hatred never helps, so love. Everything is made better by love. Hopefully, you can get some love back.
  13. The best revenge is to inflict no revenge. If someone’s rude to you and you react with rudeness, you’re proving them right.
  14. Don’t expect people to magically be better. To make the world a better palace, be polite.
  15. A virtuous person doesn’t jump to conclusions. Assume the best from people.
  16. Anyone can benefit from stoicism: share what you learn with others if they’re open to it.
  17. Everyone you meet is an opportunity to be kind. You can both benefit from kindness.
  18. Like Marcus Aurelius says, avoid false friends. But don’t judge people’s behaviors, just your own. Don’t be false with your friends.
  19. Break patterns and negative impulses. When something happens, do the opposite virtue. When you procrastinate, take action. When you say something bad, stop and say something nice for a change.
  20. Some answers you won’t have in books, traveling, or from other people. Some answers you find yourself, through your actions or living the good life. Just use the principles of self-control, courage, and freedom.
  21. By definition, no one can enjoy their legacy. Never waste time thinking about what future people will think of you. Focus on the present moment and by being the best person you can be, the future is irrelevant. Be good now.
  22. Self-improvement is a noble endeavor. Don’t let shallow feelings, like vanity, corrupt it. Do things to challenge yourself, not to impress others, or to run away from problems. You can get better at something and still be a bad person.
  23. Don’t blame your circumstances. Remember the good qualities you have or the ones you can develop. It’s more impressive to get certain traits by effort and skill than to simply have them.
  24. You can hope for goodness or we can simply find it within ourselves.
  25. There are two essential tasks: to be good and to find an occupation you love. Everything else is a distraction.
  26. There are three parts to philosophy: the moral, the natural, and the rational. Their aim is the same, they help you live a good life right now.
  27. If you teach others a crime, it’ll return to you in some form. Be a good example to others.
  28. Humans are social animals which means that we need each other. Don’t present this isn’t the case because it’s in our nature.
  29. Past success won’t always indicate future success. Character is a better measure than past success. This is true for relationships, friendships, jobs, and everything else. Character is the best virtue you can use to advance your position in life in the long term.
  30. Make time to study philosophy and self-improvement and pursue other occupations once our study is over. This is the only way to improve.
  31. We were born good and learned to be evil somewhere along the way. Philosophy is a tool that’s supposed to help us get in touch with our true nature.

November: Acceptance/Amor Fati

  1. When something happens that we wished it hadn’t, it’s easier to change our opinion than past events. Accept what happened and enjoy it whenever possible. Feeling gratitude for everything that happens is a recipe for happiness.
  2. Once you do everything you can, you just have to accept what happens. When an outcome is outside of your control, how everything unfolds is up to someone or something else.
  3. Don’t fight or resist external events, even if they are contrary to what you expect.
  4. Change isn’t good. It just is. Change, like events in general, is objective.
  5. Let go of the idea that we’re the center of the universe. Give up control because we don’t have any.
  6. Nothing is certain. Life can change suddenly and unexpectedly.
  7. By achieving self-mastery, you’ll get real power. Focus inward rather than outward because that’s the only thing that you can change.
  8. Whatever happens to us, we shouldn’t complain. We should accept what happens and try to be the best we can at the job we’ve been given.
  9. Our understanding of what something is or isn’t is a matter of opinion. The universe is constantly changing and we can’t do anything about it.
  10. Every new generation thinks that we’ve reached the apex of humanity. But things have been the same and they always will be. We will come and go, but the earth will go on.
  11. Accepting something isn’t the same as being passive.
  12. We can’t blame anyone other than ourselves for what happens. The only thing we have control over is our attitudes and responses to what happens.
  13. Never complain and never make excuses because this never solves anything.
  14. An event is objective and how we interpret it is up to us. Acceptance is a process that leads to self-improvement.
  15. Life is changing constantly and so are we. Everything changes all the time and the only thing you can do is go with it.
  16. Although most people see hope as good and fear as bad, the stoics see them the same. They are enemies of the present moment.
  17. The point of studying philosophy is to make ourselves better, not to point out the flaws of others. Don’t judge people, simply accept them.
  18. Marcus Aurelius reminded himself of four habits: 1) accept what’s true, 2) act for the common good, 3) your needs and wants should align with what’s in our control, and 4) accept what nature does with us.
  19. Be tolerant, and flexible. Accept what happens.
  20. What happened today is what has always happened.
  21. When something you perceive as good happens to you, don’t hold on to it because it won’t last. Enjoy it, accept it, and remember it. That should be enough because no one can take that away from you.
  22. By accepting a turn of events before they transpire, we won’t be surprised if they do. Take the time to consider the possibility of something happening and you won’t be shocked if it does.
  23. Attachment causes unhappiness because most things are beyond our control. By being resilient and adaptable, the easier it’ll be when something happens.
  24. When you’re at your peak, remember you will die. Everything we love is fragile and not ours. We must remind ourselves that everything can break or die.
  25. Having a lot of money can be a curse. Surviving a terminal illness can be a blessing in disguise.
  26. Don’t compare yourself to others, there isn’t much difference between you and others. We’re here now, but we’re all going to die eventually, so don’t waste your time thinking about unimportant matters.
  27. An undisciplined person will always find a distraction. Whenever possible, cultivate ignorance, at least for all the things that cause aggravation. The result will be peace and serenity.
  28. When someone makes a mistake, try to help the person. If you can’t, let it go.
  29. When something happens, it shouldn’t become a struggle. After all, we don’t know what will happen. Whatever happens, you’ll be OK.
  30. The guiding reason (what the stoics call “logos”) works mysteriously. This force that rules the universe can give us what we want or take something away from us. Regardless of what happens, you can accept it or refuse it, but it won’t make a difference.

December: Meditation on Mortality

  1. Get your affairs in order as if today was your last day.
  2. Everyone is going to die someday, don’t pretend otherwise.
  3. Philosophy is about doing the most difficult things (living and dying) as well as possible.
  4. Nothing belongs to you, especially the things that will outlast you. The only thing you own is your life, but only momentarily.
  5. Death and any terrible thing could happen unexpectedly. Don’t ignore the possibilities.
  6. Life can be taken away from us at any moment. Such though can scare us or motivate us. Choose to be good now rather than later.
  7. Thinking about death shouldn’t be depressing, but invigorating. Death gives us clarity.
  8. Deal with emotions immediately and don’t run away from them. To conquer grief, feel the pain, and accept it because it’s part of life.
  9. We should protect our personal space and thoughts from distractions and interruptions. Time is our greatest asset, it’s nonrenewable and you can’t buy more of it.
  10. Don’t spend your time mindlessly as if you had an unlimited number of days.
  11. Don’t be a coward because no one will respect you or admire you. Don’t put a high price on your needs.
  12. Everything comes to an end. Everyone dies. Don’t dwell on it and don’t ignore it.
  13. Don’t waste the life you’ve been given. Use it today and every day and be content with what you have.
  14.  Spend as much time as you can free of anxiety and insincerity. Make progress today until the day you die.
  15. Start every day hoping to get closer to the ideal version of you.
  16. Have confidence in your reasoned choice. Have confidence in it because it never wears down and anyone can do it.
  17. Some celebrities lack self-awareness and don’t know much about themselves. Explore yourself now and ask yourself important questions before it’s too late.
  18. Death is the ultimate equalizer. All stories have the same ending.
  19. The universe is vast and the earth, as well as everything in it, is a small part of the universe. You’re not that important, so remember you’re a person among many.
  20. Death is scary because no one knows what it’s like. Death is also the end of fear.
  21. Don’t take your time for granted because it’s running out. To make the most out of life, you must focus on wisdom and insight.
  22. Don’t quote and solely rely on the words of others. Express your own thoughts.
  23. Why are we so scared of death? Will we miss television, gossiping, and complaining? Is that life?
  24. Fancy items, regardless of what they are, are meaningless. You are a conduit that interacts with them temporarily. You won’t get a prize for collecting, spending, or working more than everyone else.
  25. Your mind is a miracle, don’t overwork it. To be able to handle life (which can be exhausting), you mustn’t overwork.
  26. Life is long enough, but you have to learn to use it. Don’t waste life sitting around or pursuing unimportant endeavors. Use life properly.
  27. Regardless of what happens, your soul must remain strong, even when your body is weak.
  28. Important people will soon be forgotten. Like Marcus Aurelius said, “Everything lasts for a day”.
  29. Be grateful and positive because these qualities are contagious.
  30. The people you admire have something in common, they share a sense of equilibrium and discipline. By staying calm in tough situations, you’ll have an advantage.
  31. Reading and studying should help us live a good life. Take action and move forward.

Further Reading

If you enjoyed this book summary of The Daily Stoic, you might also like the following articles:

The Almanack of Naval Ravickant by Eric Jorgenson

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