New Year, New Me: The Daily Stoic
New year, new me. At least, that is what I'm aiming for in 2021. In my constant quest for self-improvement, I decided to try and better myself with a little ancient wisdom this year. I stumbled across The Daily Stoic while I was scrolling on Instagram a few months ago and thought I would give it a try at the beginning of the new year.
While I normally write book reviews of books that I have finished, this time, I will be writing about a text at the beginning of the journey. The review will come at the end of December this year because of the way this book is structured. The Daily Stoic, by Ryan Holiday, a well-known marketer and personal improvement guru, contains 366 meditations by various famous stoics, such as Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Seneca. Holiday neatly distills the most important sayings and practices into tidy, digestible segments that ruminate on one particular aspect of stoicism. There is a theme for each day, along with occasional questions to prod you to think about how to apply this to your daily life. If you really feel like digging deep, you can also purchase the companion journal, The Daily Stoic Journal, in which you write your morning and evening reflections on that day's topic. I have gone all-in for the full experience and have both books.
Why not just read the originals, you ask? Philosophy can seem daunting for many people and can dredge up images of dry, boring, dusty tomes that lack any relevance to modern life. I think this book was intended as a gateway to a more serious look at stoicism. As Holiday points out in his introduction, the word 'stoic' has been much maligned and has a rather negative connotation in our modern use of the word.
"Indeed, it would be hard to find a word dealt a greater injustice at the hands of the English language than "Stoic". To the average person, this vibrant, action-oriented, and paradigm shifting way of living has become shorthand for "emotionless"." (p.1)
So far, although I am only 4 days into the new year, I can say it is definitely not emotionaless. It has piqued my interest and given me some genuine food for thought. This book is an attempt to lure people over to Stoicism by allowing them to dip their toe in and see what all the fuss is about first. It's a way to ease people in who normally dislike philosophy, or who have questioned what possible impact it can have in their busy modern lives. To be honest, I too, am somewhat skeptical, but as someone who has jumped on several of the newer self-help bandwagons, I have nothing to lose by trying a system that has been in place for over two thousand years. That speaks to something. So, at the dawn of a new year, I am beginning my stoic journey to find a new me.
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The Daily Stoic
Author: Ryan Holiday
Publisher: Profile Books (2016)