16 Gift Ideas For The Stoics In Your Life

Stoicism is supposed to be a living, breathing thing. Not just words you look at on a page once, but something you carry with you—something you use to live. So that, as Seneca put it, the “words become works.” And he also urged us to take the words he and the other Stoics had written and find real uses for them: “Take charge and stake your own claim—something posterity will carry in its notebook.”

As we’ve built up this site and thought about the ways we could help spread Stoicism, we’ve tried to honor the insights of Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca and Epictetus as well as staking our own claim and making our own contributions. One of the best ways we’ve been able to do that is coming up with creative and beautiful objects to serve as daily reminders of the most important Stoic practices. Each one of the products we’ve created has had that mission in mind: to bring Stoicism as a practice to ordinary people. We wanted to make things that we could actually use ourselves (we’ll leave the t-shirts to someone else).

It’s been truly inspiring to see thousands of people carry around our memento mori medallion in the past 6 months to create real perspective and urgency. Or seen the “Waste No More Time Arguing What A Good Man Should Be. Be One” poster on the gyms of football teams, in dorm rooms, in entryways and on office walls. There are more than 100,000 copies of The Daily Stoic in print now, and every morning, we use The Daily Stoic Journal along with the rest of you guys.

So as you’re thinking of a gift for your friends and family this holiday season, here are 16 ideas that can act as reminders not just in the new year, but in the years to come. Each helps spread the idea of Stoicism and may move a new wave of people closer to living the life they want.

The majority of these are from our own Daily Stoic Store, but we have also added other suggestions. Enjoy!

BOOKS

Below are some books that would make great holiday gifts and serve as a great starting point for family and friends. For more book suggestions, check out our post “The Stoic Reading List: 3 Must-Read Books To Get You Started” as well as “28 Books On Stoicism: The (Hopefully) Ultimate Reading List.”

The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

The Daily Stoic offers 366 days of Stoic insights and exercises, featuring all-new translations from the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the playwright Seneca, or slave-turned-philosopher Epictetus, as well as lesser-known luminaries like Zeno, Cleanthes, and Musonius Rufus. Every day of the year you’ll find one of their pithy, powerful quotations, as well as historical anecdotes, provocative commentary, and a helpful glossary of Greek terms.

Want a more personal touch? You can get a signed copy at BookPeople.

The Daily Stoic Journal by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

The Daily Stoic Journal features fifty-two new Stoic disciplines or practices, one for each week of the year, along with a special introduction about the art of journaling. Each weekly practice is presented with advice and direction, along with a few quotes from the great Stoics to help focus your attention on the practice for the week. Each day presents a question to focus on in your morning preparations or evening review. Whether you need help with bad habits like complaining, procrastination, or a hot temper, or are looking to get stronger, wiser and braver, this journal is a tool to get you there.

Want a more personal touch? You can get a signed copy at BookPeople.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Meditations is perhaps the only document of its kind ever made. It is the private thoughts of the world’s most powerful man giving advice to himself on how to make good on the responsibilities and obligations of his positions. Trained in stoic philosophy, Marcus stopped almost every night to practice a series of spiritual exercises—reminders designed to make him humble, patient, empathetic, generous, and strong in the face of whatever he was dealing with. Well, now we have this book. It is imminently readable and perfectly accessible. You cannot read this book and not come away with a phrase or a line that will be helpful to you next time you are in trouble. Read it, it is practical philosophy embodied. Make sure you pick up the Gregory Hays translation from Modern Library. It is the most accessible edition—completely devoid of any “thou’s” and “shalls”.

Discourses and Selected Writings by Epictetus

Of the big three (Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus), Epictetus is the most preachy and for many, the least fun to read. That doesn’t mean he isn’t brilliant. On many occasions he expresses something so clearly and profoundly that it will shake you to your core. Personally, I prefer the Penguin translations, but I’ve tried a handful of others and found the differences to be relatively negligible.

Letters from a Stoic by Seneca

Seneca, like Marcus, was also a powerful man in Rome. He was also a great writer and from the looks of it, a trusted friend who gave great advice to his friends. Much of that advice survives in the form of letters. Now we can read those letters and they can guide us through problems with grief, wealth, poverty, success, failure, education and so many other things. Seneca was a stoic as well, but like Marcus, he was practical and borrowed liberally from other schools. As he quipped to a friend, “I don’t care about the author if the line is good.” That is the ethos of practical philosophy—it doesn’t matter from whom or when it came from, what matters if it helps you in your life, if only for a second. Reading Seneca will do that. The Penguin translation is fantastic, both for this collection of letters (which are more like essays than true correspondence) and for his collection of essays, On the Shortness of Life.

The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday

The Obstacle is the Way has become a cult classic, beloved by men and women around the world who apply its wisdom to become more successful at whatever they do. The book draws its inspiration from the Stoics who focus on the things they can control, let go of everything else, and turn every new obstacle into an opportunity to get better, stronger, tougher. As Marcus Aurelius put it nearly 2000 years ago: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

Want a more personal touch? You can get a signed copy at BookPeople.

Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

Ego Is the Enemy takes the thinking in The Obstacle Is the Way, and applies it to our greatest internal obstacle—our own ego. If The Obstacle Is the Way was a philosophical approach to dealing with the difficulties we face in life, Ego Is the Enemy is a philosophical exploration of difficulties we create for ourselves in life. Early in our careers, ego impedes learning and the cultivation of talent. With success, ego can blind us to our faults and sow future problems. In failure, ego magnifies each blow and makes recovery more difficult. At every stage, ego holds us back.

Want a more personal touch? You can get a signed copy at BookPeople.

MEDALLIONS & COINS

Memento Mori Medallion

Our most popular item, the memento mori medallion has been added to the daily carry of thousands as a literal and inescapable reminder that “you could leave life right now.” The front features an interpretation of the three essentials of existence – the tulip (life), the skull (death), and the hourglass (time). The back shows a quote from Marcus Aurelius “You could leave life right now.”

Each coin is shipped in a velvet ring box with an accompanying information card, explaining the practice to anyone receiving the coin. Learn more here.

Amor Fati Medallion

Amor fati (Latin: “a love of fate”) is a mindset that you take on for making the best out of anything that happens: Treating each and every moment—no matter how challenging—as something to be embraced, not avoided. The flame on the front of the medallion is inspired by Marcus Aurelius’s timeless wisdom: “a blazing fire makes flame and brightness out of everything that is thrown into it.” The back features an excerpt of the great philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s formula for greatness: “Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it….but love it.”

Each coin is shipped in a velvet ring box with an accompanying information card, explaining the practice to anyone receiving the coin. Learn more here.

Roman silver coin (denarius) with Marcus Aurelius

Another gift idea is getting a silver coin (denarius) on eBay which features Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. You can learn more here.

PRINTS

Epictetus Print – “How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?”

The limited edition print is signed by New Orleans based artist Ron Domingue and hand-numbered to 500. The print features a screenprint of Ron’s Epictetus depiction and the quote “How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?” letterpressed into 11”*17” 100lb cover weight stock to give each print impressive depth and contrast. Learn more here.

Ego Is The Enemy Print (in collaboration with Joey Roth)

Designed in collaboration with Portland based artist Joey Roth, the print is inspired by the international bestseller Ego Is The Enemy. The print shows an interpretation of the following: humility is a knowledge of our weaknesses, confidence is a knowledge of our strengths, and ego is something dangerous with none of the former and a skewed sense of the latter.

Each print is hand-numbered out of 1,000 and letterpress printed on 11″ x 17″ Lettra stock. Learn more here.

Marcus Aurelius Print – “Waste No More Time Arguing What A Good Man Should Be. Be One.”

In collaboration with the acclaimed artist Nick van Hofwegen (AKA Young & Sick, creator of album covers for multiple Grammy award winning musicians like Foster the People, Maroon 5, and Robin Thicke), Daily Stoic produced an exclusive 11×17 print of Marcus Aurelius’s essential maxim: “Waste No More Time Arguing What A Good Man Should Be. Be One.” Learn more here.

Memento Mori Poster

Inspired by our memento mori medallion and the three essentials of existence – the tulip (life), the skull (death), and the hourglass (time), this 11 x 17″ print is letterpressed into thick 100lb French Kraft-Tone stock. Each print is made using the centuries old letterpress technique, stamping each image into the paper to give incredible detail and texture. Learn more here.

BUSTS

Marcus Aurelius bust from AnatolianHands on Etsy

This bust from Marcus Aurelius is made in Turkey and the seller has great reviews. It is created from marble powder and is made to order. You can learn more here.

Marcus Aurelius bust from GreekMarbleArt on Etsy

Another bust suggestion can be found at the GreekMarbleArt store on Etsy which also has fantastic reviews. It is also handmade and you can learn more about it here.

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