The Most Important Ritual You Can Practice This Year

  Why did Marcus Aurelius spend those precious hours in his tent, writing by the lamplight, even on the nights and mornings he strained under the burdens of his war-time duties? It wasn’t for our benefit. No, he never expected Meditations would see an audience. He was writing for himself, to himself, as a way to practice the principles of the … Continued

Memento Mori Tattoos and Inspiration

There was a tradition in ancient Rome to celebrate the return of a victorious military general with a drawn out spectacle to sanctify the triumphant leader. On the day of his parade, the victor wore a crown and a purple, gold-adorned toga, otherwise reserved for kings. His four-horse chariot parted the streets lined with thanks-givers … Continued

What’s Essential Is Invisible To The Eye

In a framed print on his wall, Fred Rogers prominently displayed his favorite quote “L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” What’s essential is invisible to the eye. It’s a line from the wonderful children’s book The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Why did he like this quote so much? What did it mean to him? Well, as a … Continued

Good Men Can’t Just Do Nothing

Around 1998, Miep Gies supplied a small note to be appended to the end of a forthcoming biography of Anne Frank. It was completely fitting that Gies have the last word on Anne Frank, given all that she had risked and sacrificed between 1942 and 1944 to provide for and supply Frank’s family as they hid … Continued

It’s All On Slippery Footing

Watching the news, we see stories of bankruptcy, this or that industry disrupted by new technologies, stories of people in the wrong place at the wrong time. Most of the time, what is our reaction? Our mind searches for ways to make it that person’s fault. They spent too much. They were too complacent. Serves them right … Continued

Practice What Needs Practice

Today, you have a simple prompt from Marcus Aurelius: Try to improve at something you’re not naturally good at. “Practice even what seems impossible. The left hand is useless at almost everything, for lack of practice. But it guides the reins better than the right. From practice.” Think about all the things you’re good at. … Continued

“What’s Wrong With This Person?”

When you inevitably get frustrated with someone today, remember this line from Anthony de Mello: “The question to ask is not, ‘What’s wrong with this person?’ but ‘What does this irritation tell me about myself?’” This question—this pause and then reversal—is an essential element of Stoicism. It goes back to Epictetus who said that we are complicit in … Continued

Forgiving Those Who Trespass Against Us

In 1993, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, the then-Archbishop of Chicago, was accused of having molested a young man in Philadelphia some two decades earlier. Unfortunately, this is an old story with an all-too familiar ending: A Catholic priest who abused his trust and authority to take advantage of a vulnerable young person. Right? And of course … Continued

How To Stop Caring What Other People Think

The secret from Marcus Aurelius for when we get flak or insults or judgement from other people? He said we should look inside their soul. “Get inside him,” Marcus wrote. “Look at what sort of person he is. You’ll find you don’t need to strain to impress him.” His point was that too often we blindly “accept” … Continued