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January 4, 2019 7:01 pmComments are Disabled

It’s day four and I’ve already hit a writing block so the best thing to do is to type through it.

The idea behind the one blog post per day project, is the advice from all the best writers sums up to: “If you want to be a writer, write.” I don’t know who Epictetus is (just Googled him), and I don’t even really want to be a writer, but I do want to see if I can write, which means dealing with the daily frustration of not always having something to say.

Epictetus, as I just discovered, was a stoic. Stoicism, from my experience reading Marcus Aurelius in the original modern American English, emphasizes above all else humility, serenity, self control, and discipline. Stoics don’t waste time making excuses or blaming others. Stoics control their own destiny.

When I first read about stoicism, I was struck by its simplicity. All one must do is achieve virtue; the rest–happiness, wealth, success–will follow. Stoics don’t believe in luck. They make their own luck.

So much of the values we believe are important in our society, and those we fear we have lost, are values of this romantic Greek philosophy. Whereas an unenlightened soul complains about the world, the stoic acts on the world. A deadbeat will get angry and drunk; a stoic will get ambitious and sober. When we castigate our leaders for being boorish, vulgar, inconsiderate, and unwise, we are hoping that they will adopt a more virtuous frame. We may not know we are calling for stoicism or one of its sister philosophies, but it’s built into our moral matrix as a people. We know it’s missing.

Every time I read about stoicism again, or skim passages from The Meditations, it inspires me to re-evaluate where I could be better practicing these timeless principles in my own life. Given as it has been over a decade since I first read Marcus Aurelius, that’s a lot of re-evaluating.

Human nature hasn’t changed in two thousand years. We would be smart to listen to those who came before us and the wisdom they imparted.

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