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This Is the Only Vacation You Need

Daily Stoic Emails

Like us, Marcus Aurelius must have pined to get away. To a house in the country. To a seaside resort. To visit the far-flung ruins of a city like Athens, whose culture he lived. Clearly, he deserved a break–he had a hard job. 

Yet from Meditations, we get the sense that he actively resisted this urge. It was his private diary, so he could have written about how much he wanted a vacation and how much he deserved it. But instead, he reminded himself that the best vacations required no vacating. That the best retreats required no retreating. “People look for retreats for themselves in the country, by the coast, or in the hills,” Marcus wrote. “There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind…So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.” 

When we interviewed Arianna Huffington for DailyStoic.com, she told us that Marcus’s message about an inner-retreat was her favorite quote from any of the great Stoic thinkers. In fact, she has laminated copies of it in her  wallet, on her desk, on her nightstand, as well as on every page of Thrive Global’s website! She explained:

It perfectly illustrates the current moment—right now that first retreat he’s talking about is mostly digital. That’s how we get away from ourselves—by retreating into technology and social media. But the only way to find peace and to thrive is to take breaks from the world and make time to regularly renew ourselves by reconnecting with ourselves.

The next time you feel that urge to get away, to flee the stresses of life with an exotic trip, or even distract yourself from the stress and strain of the day’s work by scrolling your phone or scanning your Netflix, catch yourself. Like Marcus and Arianna, you can get relief here and now. No logistics or money or technology required. Take the trip inside. Travel inside your heart and your mind. “A quick visit should be enough to ward off all,” Marcus wrote, “and send you back ready to face what awaits you.”

P.S. This was originally sent on October 12, 2019. Sign up today for the Daily Stoic’s email and get our popular free 7-day course on Stoicism.