24 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 23 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.


Sympatheia Medallion

Perhaps the most radical idea in all of Stoicism: Sympatheia is the belief in mutual interdependence among everything in the universe, that we are all one. You will find this link between all beings throughout the works of Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Seneca. In Meditations, a book written only to himself, Marcus refers to the common good more than 80 times, self-identifying not just as a citizen of Rome, but of the World. Sympatheia is an invitation to us to take a step back, zoom out and see life from a higher vantage point than our own.

The front shows the famous 1972 “Blue Marble” earth, which instantly changed man’s perspective on himself. It is a view Marcus Aurelius could only imagine but still understood. The image is a prompt to zoom out of your own bubble and see the world as a whole and understand the interdependence of everyone on it. The back features Marcus’s timeless wisdom: “Revere the gods, and look after each other. Life is short—the fruit of this life is a good character and acts for the common good.”

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.


The Obstacle Is The Way Medallion

Marcus Aurelius would say that the Stoic finds a way to turn every negative into a positive. The things that test us make us who we are. The Stoic grows stronger and better with every obstacle they face. They rally to every challenge and thrive as a result. To keep this in mind, we’ve created The Obstacle Is The Way medallion to carry with you. The front features a great mountain. The back shows Marcus’s enduring words: “The impediment to action advances action, what stands in the way becomes the way.”

Each coin is handcrafted in the United States by a custom mint operating in Minnesota since 1882. Each coin is then shipped in a velvet ring box with an accompanying information card, explaining the practice to anyone receiving the coin. Learn more here.


Premeditatio Malorum Medallion

Premeditatio malorum (“the pre-meditation of evils”) is a Stoic exercise of imagining things that could go wrong or be taken away from us. It helps us prepare for life’s inevitable setbacks and develop resilience in the face of uncertainty. We don’t always get what is rightfully ours, even if we’ve earned it. Not everything is as clean and straightforward as we think they may be. The premeditatio malorum medallion is designed to keep us prepared–and strengthen us for any possibility. The back features part of Seneca’s quote “All the terms of our human lot should be before our eyes.” 

Each coin is handcrafted in the United States by a custom mint operating in Minnesota since 1882. The coin is shipped in a velvet ring box with an accompanying information card, explaining the practice to anyone receiving the coin. Learn more here.


Ego Is The Enemy Medallion

Inspired by the international bestseller Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday. Ego is that outsized sense of self-importance, that malignant self-absorption, a belief that one is somehow inherently better and entitled to more than everyone else, what NBA Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley famously called “the disease of me.” Whatever we’re doing in life–whether we’re aspiring to do something, experiencing success or in the middle of difficulty–ego is the enemy every step along the way. We hope that by carrying this medallion, you’re able to protect yourself against your greatest foe — your own ego.

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.

PENDANTS

Memento Mori Pendant

In MeditationsMarcus Aurelius wrote “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” That was a personal reminder to continue living a life of virtue NOW, and not wait. The French painter Philippe de Champaigne expressed a similar sentiment in his painting “Still Life with a Skull,” which showed the three essentials of existence – the tulip (life), the skull (death), and the hourglass (time). The original painting is part of a genre referred to as Vanitas, a form of 17th-century artwork featuring symbols of mortality which encourage reflection on the meaning and fleetingness of life. With this  beautiful memento mori pendant, keep this important thought in mind—a literal and inescapable reminder that “you could leave life right now.”

Each pendant designed with Proclamation Jewelry in Texas from Sterlium Plus – a sterling silver alloy that is scratch and tarnish resistant and maintains a brilliant silver color. They are oxidized to give the background a contrast from the high-polished text and design areas. The delicate but strong chains are made of genuine sterling silver darkened with oxidation for a classic vintage finish. Learn more here.


Amor Fati Pendant

Friedrich Nietzsche would describe his formula for human greatness as “amor fati”—a love of fate: “That one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backwards, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it….but love it.” In Meditations, Marcus Aurelius would say: “A blazing fire makes flame and brightness out of everything that is thrown into it.” Amor fati is a mindset that you take on for making the best out of anything that happens. And now, you can carry around this powerful message with you everyday with our amor fati pendants.

Each pendant handcrafted in Houston, Texas from Sterlium Plus – a sterling silver alloy that is scratch and tarnish resistant and maintains a brilliant silver color. They are oxidized to give the background a contrast from the high-polished text and design areas. The delicate but strong chains are made of genuine sterling silver darkened with oxidation for a classic vintage finish. 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 Print

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.


The Dance Of Death Print – “My arrow (I promise you) spares no one .You will all dance the ballet of which I sing”

A fantastic and haunting memento mori, this print is a recreation of a beautiful anonymous German engraving from 1635 that features a standing, smiling skeleton aiming a crossbow. An hourglass rests by his back foot. A broken arrow sits beside it and there is another one in the quiver. It was a piece of art designed to hang at eye level so that the arrow–the one locked and loaded into the crossbow–was pointing directly at the viewer. In French, the inscription reads:

“Ma flesche (asseure toy) n’espargnera personne

Vous danserez trestout ce balet, que je sonnne

My arrow (I promise you) spares no one

You will all dance the ballet of which I sing”

The symbolism is dark but it’s also absurd. Like life, and death. It can come and take us at any time, for the most ridiculous of reasons. This print, designed to hang at eye-level like the original engraving, is meant to help you remember–to smile and live life with urgency. 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.

BONUS

Daily Stoic Life

Become The Best Version of Yourself

Daily Stoic Life is a global community of Stoic thinkers and practitioners dedicated to becoming the best versions of themselves. No matter your age, sex, religion, or social status, you can build a stoic practice and build a better life for yourself.

Membership includes exclusive daily email meditations, a hardcover book of the best stoic wisdom, a private learning community, quarterly Q&As with Ryan Holiday, and members-only discounts in The Daily Stoic store.

Give someone the gift of a Daily Stoic Life membership by clicking here.