Do What Little You Can, And Do It As Best You Can

In Walker Percy’s 1961 novel The Moviegoer, the stoic philosopher is not the character based on Percy (though Percy loved Stoicism and wrote about it often), it’s his Aunt Emily. A rich, Southern aristocrat in New Orleans, she wanted the best for Binx Bolling, the boy she had essentially adopted and raised. She would give … Continued

Doing The Right Thing Can Cost You Everything

In early 2014, an employee of the multi-billion dollar medical company Theranos began to worry that the company may be engaged in fraudulent activities. Despite being a relatively low-level employee in his early twenties, he decided to do something about it. So he wrote a letter to the company’s CEO outlining the problems as he … Continued

Focus On The Present Moment

The temptation exists for all of us to let our imagination run wild envisioning all the ways things can go wrong. Of course, such an exercise can be useful in preparing us for the future and making us ready for adversity, but Marcus Aurelius well understood that it can become crippling fear that will paralyze … Continued

A Clever Thought On Death

It’s scary to think that we will someday die. What of our family, we think? What of our possessions, our potential, and our plans? Death in this way, is a great loss. The poet Lucretius described it in haunting language: “Never again will your dear children race for the prize of your first kisses and … Continued

Our Choices Are The Only Thing That Matters

The Stoics are very clear that the stories we tell ourselves about why things are the way they are has an enormous impact on how we feel about them. If we decide that something is unfair, we’ll feel wronged. If we tell ourselves that we deserve something, we’ll be disappointed or upset if we don’t … Continued

Judge Yourself, Not Other People

It’s easy to think that Stoicism is about judging other people. Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and Epictetus talk critically about their fellow men quite a bit. In one passage, Marcus says, “Robbers, perverts, killers and tyrants—gather for your inspection their so-called pleasures!” This a good exercise but it can also lead to a sense of moral … Continued

Clarify Your Intentions

“Let all your efforts be directed to something, let it keep that end in view. It’s not activity that disturbs people, but false conceptions of things that drive them mad.” —Seneca, On Tranquility of Mind, 12.5 Law 29 of The 48 Laws of Power is: Plan All The Way To The End. Robert Greene writes, “By … Continued

Rise And Shine

  “On those mornings you struggle with getting up, keep this thought in mind—I am awakening to the work of a human being. Why then am I annoyed that I am going to do what I’m made for, the very things for which I was put into this world? Or was I made for this, … Continued

The Less You Want, The More You Have

There is a line in Seneca’s famous play, Thyestes. “It is a vast kingdom,” Thyestes says, “to be able to come without a kingdom.” It reminds me of a line in Steven Pressfield’s novel on Alexander the Great, Virtues of War, where the an old philosopher accosts the great conqueror. This man has conquered the world, … Continued