The Stoics believed in the power of ritual, particularly at the beginning and the end of the day. For them, routines and rituals were not productivity hacks, but ways of living. In a world where so much was out of our control, committing to a practice we did control was a way of establishing and reminding ourselves of our own power. It was about preparation. It was about creating peace.
Amy Landino is a bestselling author and award-winning host of AmyTV. With over 20 million views through her successful YouTube series, Amy is the World’s #1 Productive Lifestyle Coach. Amy reads The Daily Stoic each morning and her new book Good Morning, Good Life is a title whose essence the Stoics would have likely agreed with, so we reached out to learn more about her interest in Stoicism, the habits that make her happier and more productive, how to win win the morning so you can win the day, and much much more. Please enjoy our interview with Amy Landino!
Have you read any of the Stoics and who is your favorite? And if not, what books and authors have shaped you the most?
My first real introduction to the stoics was through the book The Daily Stoic. Reading this book has been instrumental in helping me understand what they were teaching us. Throughout my experience of studying this philosophy so far, I have to say my favorite stoic must be Epictetus because his natural words speak to me so easily. I’m inspired by his ideas and feel they affect me very simply, yet in a profound way.
You’ve been vlogging, writing, and speaking about all things productivity and happiness for years. What are some of the habits or activities that consistently make you happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative?
I am a bit of a lark and my time in the morning is sacred. It’s not that I’m super excited to wake up and jump out of bed. I just enjoy having a start to the day that is focused on what I am more passionate about and what I most value so I can present my best self to the rest of the world when they wake up… later. Starting with silence is the greatest gift. I think another habit that has helped me be happier and more productive is easily being able to say ‘no’ to things that I genuinely feel are not a fit. I’m quite clear on my mission and although it’s a great problem to have lots of ideas thrown my way, I’m pretty good at knowing in my gut what’s not going to work for me.
The Stoics of course were big on habits and discipline. Your new book Good Morning, Good Life zooms in on optimizing the morning. Walk us through the key activities that one should be doing first thing in the morning?
I believe starting the day on your terms is critical, but mornings have gotten a bad reputation since people assume they need to be “morning people” to truly enjoy them. I’m not a morning person, but I enjoy the time tremendously. I also think that social media has encouraged us all to think we need to do very specific things in the morning to be a success in life and I don’t believe that either. It’s about leaning into what’s right for you so that you’ll actually prioritize yourself at the start of the day. No matter what you choose to do in the morning, I believe if you fulfill 3 guidelines—no matter if it all takes 15 minutes or more than an hour—you’ll have a great morning routine:
- Movement — Do something to move your body. You can be ambitious and hit the gym right away. I prefer just a few simple stretches and massaging the muscles on my face. When you move your body a little, you wake up.
- Mindfulness — It’s too easy to pick up the phone or turn the TV on when you don’t have anything else to do. Instead of resorting to those things, start with a practice that helps you generate your own original thoughts or ideas. Meditation works for some people. I prefer stream-of-consciousness writing in a journal for 3 pages to get all the random annoyances and bad dreams off my brain so I can move forward more positively through the day.
- Mastery — This one is my favorite because if not for my mastery time, I wouldn’t have been able to figure out how to start my own business while I still had a full-time job 10 years ago. Focus on something that you’ve been meaning to get around to or that you’re passionate about. Have you been wanting to learn a foreign language? Start the day going through flashcards or using a training app. When you make time to master something, you aren’t allowing yourself to stay stuck on the hamster wheel of the every day.
As we said, a key theme in the Stoics was discipline and habit formation. That’s clearly a struggle for most people, and we are curious what you recommend to make a habit change last? How can we make these behaviors that you recommend stick?
I believe habit change is dependent on two very important things. First is the obvious: results. When we see results from what we’ve done, we’re much more motivated to keep up the thing we’ve been doing. But to get there you need an important first step and that’s to decide on your ‘why’. You can scroll through Instagram and see someone in great shape and decide to change your diet and exercise to achieve the same results, but is someone else’s result going to be enough to motivate you to keep at it? Maybe. It depends on the person. But when you truly know why you want to achieve that goal, your ability to show up for yourself becomes much more motivating. The key to this, though, is being really honest with yourself. Your ‘why’ doesn’t need to be something you tell people or paste in your social media bio. It just needs to get you out of your own way. Get to the root of your motivation and you’ll feel it working for you all the time.
The Stoics were often writing about finding stillness and tranquility. With the craziness that is your life—all the traveling, different projects, growing your businesses— how do you try to stay calm and sane? How do you balance a love of new places and new experiences with appreciating what you have?
There’s been this really interesting shift in dynamic for how I feel when it comes to wanting “more” in my life. I used to pine for new experiences and new things all the time. I thought I needed them to be relevant. But in order to make any of those possibilities happen, I’ve had to work really hard for them. And that’s exactly how it works: good things happen for the hard-working, good-intentioned people. Over so much time of staying focused and putting in the work, I’ve become so much more appreciative of the things I have in my life. My attention is less often looking out and more looking in. How does this thing make me feel? What actually makes me feel lacking? Who am I surrounding myself with and how do they make me feel? I’m not perfect and I still strive for many outside luxuries, but I know I’m in a much more calm place than I was a decade ago with my mindset. Instead of immediately rushing after the next shiny thing, I ask myself why it actually matters.
If you had one piece of advice to give to someone starting out either with a podcast or with some other creative career right now, what would you say to them?
Don’t be afraid of who you are. You will find all the tips, tricks, advice, tutorials and action steps imaginable. If you are resourceful, you can do it. But what I have always found is that the person who is hiding who they are and what they think from the world will never really make something worth paying attention to. That’s the straight-up answer to “is the content world too over saturated?” No it’s not… but you better show up with something good to say. Attention is much pricier than it used to be online. Whether content is free or not, people know the value of their time more than ever before. Don’t waste it.
A lot of young people—particularly young women—look up to you. What do you recommend to young people who are trying to figure out their path in life?
How fortunate you are! Youth in a world that is much more forgiving of the potential crazy dream you want to bring to life is a beautiful thing. Take full advantage of it, because you can literally do anything you put your mind to. If your family never told you that, let me tell you again. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO. Feel empowered because it’s true. But make no mistake. As much as the world is accepting, they will test you. Your parents will still disagree with the path they didn’t choose for you. The process is still something you need to be willing to go through, no matter what. But if you want something bad enough and you’ll do the work, I promise you’ll have everyone jumping on your bandwagon soon enough. Prove them wrong, but be sure you’re doing it for you.