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Do the More Difficult Thing

Daily Stoic Emails

Today you are going to face plenty of little crossroads—decisions about how to do things and what things to do. Should you walk the 15 minutes to your meeting or take an Uber? Should you pick up the phone and have the difficult conversation or leave it to an email? Should you apologize and take responsibility or hope it goes unnoticed? Should you swim in the outdoor pool or enjoy the warmth of the indoor one?

As you weigh these competing options, let Stoicism make the call. Let Stoicism give you the strength to choose the option that challenges you the most—let it steer you away from the drift of least resistance.

Marcus Aurelius wrote in Meditations about holding the reins in his non-dominant hand as both an exercise to practice and a metaphor for doing the difficult thing. Seneca talked about how a person who skates through life without being tested and challenged is actually depriving themselves of opportunities to grow and improve. It is both these ideas that we should take to heart today. 

Jump into the colder pool. Have the tougher conversation. Walk instead of drive. Take ownership where you can. Choose the more difficult option. Seek out the challenge. Lean into it. Iron sharpens iron, after all. You’ll be better for it—not only for the improvement that comes from the challenge itself, but for the willpower you are developing by choosing that option on purpose. 

When you have two choices, choose the one that challenges you the most. Choose the one, as Marcus would agree, that allows you to take the reins in any situation.

P.S. This was originally sent on February 23, 2019. Sign up today for the Daily Stoic’s email and get our popular free 7-day course on Stoicism.