“Is there anything finer than this practice of examining one’s entire day?” Seneca asked. “Think of the sleep that follows this self-inspection,” he said, “how peaceful, deep, and free, when the mind has been either praised or admonished, when the sentinel and secret censor of the self has conducted its inquiry into one’s character.”
Creating a practice for self-examination is one of the most powerful and essential tools that the Stoics have passed down to us. In fact, as we’ve said before, this kind of meditation—or journaling—is the philosophy. Stoicism is not the reading of the Stoics, it is the actual doing of the teachings of those wise men and women.
That’s one of the reasons we created The Daily Stoic Journal. It’s easy enough to write in a moleskine or to jot some thoughts down on your phone from time to time. But ideally, this should be a deliberate, daily ritual. Each day should be put up for review, each day should see a new prompt or principle to follow. Without this practice, we’re just winging it—and winging it is where we go wrong.
So today, remember Epictetus’s nightly ritual and see what it can do for you.
“Allow not sleep to close your wearied eyes,
Until you have reckoned up each daytime deed:
‘Where did I go wrong? What did I do? And what duty’s left undone?’
From first to last review your acts and then
Reprove yourself for wretched [or cowardly] acts, but rejoice in those done well.”
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