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    Labor Day was first proposed by Matthew Maguire, a labor union secretary in 1882 in New York. It is a “tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country” and the idea that they deserved a rest for that work. The Stoics were hard driving, no-excuses, disciplined folks […]

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    This Sunday will mark 179 years since a young man named Frederick Douglass began his escape out of slavery by stealing onto a train outside of Baltimore. He made it to Delaware, then Philadelphia and finally New York City where he found protection from members of the Underground Railroad. But in fact, he’d made considerable progress […]

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    In the year 64 AD, during the reign of Nero, a fire tore through the city of Rome. The French city of Lyons sent a large sum of money to aid the victims. The next year the citizens of Lyons were suddenly struck by a tragic fire of their own, prompting Nero to send an […]

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    Epictetus once said that “every habit and capability is confirmed and grows in its corresponding actions, walking by walking, and running by running . . . therefore, if you want to do something, make a habit of it.” If you don’t want to do something, he said, make a habit of doing the opposite. For this […]

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    Saturday was Women’s Equality Day and it happened to fall just as the controversy about a memo from an employee of Google about female programmers is finally dying down. If the ancient Stoics were here they would have shaken their heads at that entire fiasco. First, they wouldn’t let the scribblings of anyone, let alone […]

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    Hannibal was perhaps the one general who managed to terrify even the most Stoic Romans. When he appeared in Italy with his war elephants, when he crossed the Alps that no one believed were possible to cross, there was pandemonium in Rome. As his army began to defeat the Roman legions in battle after battle, […]

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    Discipline is easier when it’s clear. That’s why the Stoic writings are filled with rules and reminders. About what they do, what they don’t do, what they know is unvirtuous. In moments of temptation, “I probably shouldn’t” is not a great line of defense. But knowing what you do and don’t do? Much better. Try to turn […]

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    What do we find at low moments, when we are, to quote Joan Didion, “driven back upon oneself?” We find out who we really are. It’s easy to be good when things are good. It’s easy to be cheerful and generous with the wind at your back. It’s easy to stick with a philosophy when all […]

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    Admiral David Porter was not only one of the great unsung heroes of the Civil War, but he spent time with almost all the great and brilliant minds of the war, including Lincoln, Grant and Sherman. His own father had been a naval war hero in 1812 and Porter began working for him and the […]

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