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If You Want To Be Happy Do This

Daily Stoic Emails

The Stoics talk about a lot of things. But they don’t speak that much about happiness. Is that because they were too tough or too resigned to their bleak view of life to care about it? Did they mean to imply that there isn’t room for happiness for the Stoic? That it wasn’t possible?

Not at all. They talked about other things—virtue, resilience, self-command, managing the passions—because they believed when you handled that, happiness would ensue. As Dr. Becky Kennedy (great podcast episode!) writes in her wonderful book Good Inside, if you want to raise happy kids, you don’t try to make them happy. You try to make them resilient and self-aware. She writes, speaking of both kids and parents, “The wider the range of feelings we can regulate—if we can manage the frustration, disappointment, envy and sadness—the more space we have to cultivate happiness. Regulating our emotions essentially develops a cushion around those feelings, softening them and preventing them from consuming the entire jar. Regulation first, happiness second.”

This is great advice—a perfect Stoic mantra. The ability to deal with frustration, to not be ruled by our temper, to catch ourselves when we’re comparing, to stop ourselves when we start to spiral, these don’t seem like happy things. But that’s the point: By dealing with them, we make happiness possible.

This is what the Stoics wrote about. This is what their strategies and exercises are all about. They just took it for granted that you would understand what this was all aimed at—helping you flourish in life, creating the conditions from which happiness could flow smoothly and wonderfully.

P.S. In case you missed it, we re-opened the Daily Stoic New Year New You Challenge! Typically, the challenge runs live for the first three weeks of the new year. But this year we heard from a ton of people that either came back from vacation late or procrastinated or changed their minds or stumbled on their resolutions. So we decided to bring it back. The challenge begins February 1 and will help you learn to regulate your emotions and allow happiness to flow for the rest of 2024. Sign up today at!