This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Daily Stoic" by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here.
Are you looking for The Daily Stoic quotes? Do you want to get a quick snapshot of the book’s principles?
In The Daily Stoic, Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman share insights from the ancient Stoic philosophers on how you can live a good life. At the core of Stoicism is the belief that the cardinal virtues—self-control, courage, justice, and wisdom—are the source of internal stability and the measure of a good life.
Keep reading for a few quotes from the book that are sure to provoke thought and perhaps even action.
The Daily Stoic Quotes
We’ve selected five The Daily Stoic quotes and presented them along with a bit of context and explanation to help you know what the authors were getting at.
“Getting upset is like continuing the dream while you’re awake. The thing that provoked you wasn’t real—but your reaction was. And, so, from the fake comes real consequences. Which is why you need to wake up right now instead of creating a nightmare.”
Emotions can cloud your thinking. Anger, for instance, can affect your attention and your judgment, causing you to fixate on the object of your anger and assume bad intentions where there are none. To the authors, Stoics view anger as an unproductive emotion that never leads to the best outcome. Such emotions undermine your clarity of mind.
“It may take some hard work. But, the more you say no to the things that don’t matter, the more you can say yes to the things that do.”
Stoic thinkers reasoned that time is one of our most valuable possessions. We have a limited allotment of it that can’t be renewed, and each moment brings us closer to death. Therefore, they suggested that we treat time with the value it deserves—don’t give it away without getting something of value in return. The authors suggest, for example, that you say no to most requests on your time. Social gatherings and meetings rarely provide enough benefit for the time you spend on them, as they see it.
“Control your perceptions. Direct your actions properly. Willingly accept what’s outside your control.”
A central Stoic principle is that you can’t control anything except the way you think. This belief lies at the core of Stoicism’s philosophy of viewing life and underpins all their practices. You can’t control external circumstances such as the actions of another person, the state of the economy, or whether you get sick or injured, but you can control how you view or understand those things with your mind. In this way, the Stoics argue that reason is your main tool for controlling your view of life.
“We’re not as smart and as wise as we’d like to think we are. If we ever do want to become wise, it comes from questioning and from humility—not, as many would like to think, from certainty, mistrust, and arrogance.”
The first piece of Stoic advice for living wisely is to be humble and kind. To see the practical value of humility, consider those who aren’t humble—those who have an inflated opinion of themselves or who are convinced they deserve all the good things in life. People with this attitude are at risk of a more catastrophic fall when things do go wrong or when they misstep. Those who are humble, by contrast, don’t have far to fall, so they’re less prone to being devastated when things go wrong.
“Most of us are afraid of dying. But sometimes this fear begs the question: To protect what exactly? For a lot of people, the answer is hours of television, gossiping, gorging, wasting potential, reporting to a boring job, and on and on and on. Except, in the strictest sense, is this actually a life? Is this worth gripping so tightly and being afraid of losing? It doesn’t sound like it.”
To the Stoics, your time should be used to build your character and live virtuously in the world. If you manage to live for a long time, they argued, you should have something to show for all that spent time. You should have wisdom, strength of character, and a track record of virtuous actions. The authors thus advise that you focus on cultivating those attributes now so that you’re ready when death comes.
———End of Preview———
Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman's "The Daily Stoic" at Shortform.
Here's what you'll find in our full The Daily Stoic summary:
- Insights from ancient Stoic philosophers on how to live a good life
- Stoic practices you can follow on a daily basis
- Why you should think about death more often