Dwight Eisenhower gave himself the order.
It had been a 38-year habit, and he knew it was time. His health was on the line. His ability to be of service was in jeopardy. So he quit. After 38 years of smoking, he quit—cold turkey.
“The only way to stop is to stop,” Eisenhower would tell an aide, “and I stopped.”
This story is in Discipline is Destiny. It’s also the basis of one of the best days in the upcoming 2023 Daily Stoic New Year New You Challenge. Because the Stoics were big on the idea of quitting cold turkey, of quitting anything that has a pull over us. “No man is free who is not master of himself,” Epictetus tells us.
That’s why Seneca talked about how everyone was a slave to something—even slaveowners were slaves to the institution of slavery. Others were slaves to a mistress or to ambition or to gossip or to busyness. Self-mastery is the only true freedom. Being able to control your thoughts, your emotions, your actions—that is liberty. That’s what we’re after. And the break of a new year is the perfect time to make a clean break towards freedom.
What are you hooked on? What do you have trouble doing without? What has gained control over you?
At the core of Stoicism, at the core of self-mastery is an instinctive reaction against anything that masters us. We must be the boss. We must be able to quit—cold turkey. If you are ready to make a clean break, we created the 2023 New Year New Your Challenge for you.