Repeat This In Your Head

This verse in one of Alice in Chains’ most haunting songs captures the essence of the Stoic battle: “And yet I find And yet I find Repeating in my head If I can’t be my own I’d feel better dead” The need to be one’s own. One’s own man. Free from outside influence. Free from tyranny. Free from … Continued

Character Is Fate, Deeds Not Words

It was today 162 years ago that one of our favorite subjects on this site was born: Booker T. Washington. Born a slave in Virginia, made free by the Civil War, and then a self-educated college graduate, Booker T. Washington is one of the most underrated of all the Civil Rights Activists, a man who … Continued

Leaders Eat Last

Marcus Aurelius used his Meditations both as a journal and as a kind of commonplace book where he jotted down quotes and anecdotes he liked. We can’t be sure how the original manuscript was organized and what order he actually put his thoughts in, but it is interesting that a big chunk of Book 11 of Meditations is a … Continued

A Slave To Fewer Things

On an ordinary afternoon in 1949, the physicist Richard Feynman was going about his business as he felt a pull to have a drink. Not an intense craving by any means, but still it was a disconcerting desire for some alcohol. On the spot, Feynman gave up drinking right then and there. He didn’t want … Continued

A Piece of Advice

Marcus Aurelius found this piece of advice from an opposing philosophical school important enough to jot it down to himself. It’s worth considering today and practical enough to incorporate into your life immediately: “This advice from Epicurean writings: To think continually of one of the men of old who lived a virtuous life.” For you perhaps that … Continued

Character Is The Monument

In the township of Tredyffrin, Pennsylvania, not far from the railway station, is a small cemetery filled with the remains of many unnamed Revolutionary War heroes. There are a few other gravestones of various sizes in various states of collapse and decay, the oldest of which dates back to 1777. One is still visible, though … Continued

Which Is Harder To Find?

In Larry Hendrick’s wonderful reinterpretation of Xenophon’s 2,400 year old book about Cyrus the Great, he has Cyrus make this observation: “In my experience, men who respond to good fortune with modesty are harder to find than those who face adversity with courage.” Xenophon was an interesting writer. He was a student of Socrates, a Greek who … Continued

Success And Failure Don’t Change Who You Are

Marcus Aurelius had an interesting metaphor. He believed that a man, an emperor, a soldier—everyone—was like a rock. Throw the rock up in the air, he said, and “it loses nothing by coming down and gained nothing by going up.” The rock stays the same. We can imagine his own life mirror this analogy. He was … Continued

How To Teach Philosophy

The way to spread Stoicism, to teach this philosophy to others, is perfectly captured in this exchange in Steven Pressfield’s wonderful novel, The Tides of War, “How does one lead free men? By being better than they…By being better and thus commanding their emulation.” The same is true for philosophy. The best form of evangelism is always … Continued