Episodes

  • It would be wonderful if the Stoics promised you some sort of breakthrough. One that solved for the messy divorce or the unfortunate bankruptcy. One that helped you rehab from the car accident or magically deal with a pandemic that drags on for years (as Marcus knew well). One that soothes you as you sit up sleep-deprived with an infant. The Stoics do, actually, offer solutions for these kinds of struggles. They just don’t come as the kind of breakthrough or insight that you’re necessarily looking for.

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  • You don’t know that someone acted wrongly or that they totally screwed a situation up, because you don’t know the full story. You don’t know their reasons or their side of things. And what do the Stoics tell us to do when we don’t have all the facts about something?

    They tell us to suspend judgment.

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  • Ryan speaks with historian of Rome Josiah Osgood about his new book Uncommon Wrath: How Caesar and Cato’s Deadly Rivalry Destroyed the Roman Republic, the complicated legacy of Cato, how Caesar and Cato’s relationship can help inform our daily lives, and more.

    Josiah Osgood is Professor of Classics at Georgetown University. His teaching and research cover many areas of Roman history and Latin literature, with a special focus on the fall of the Roman Republic. Josiah’s interest in the fall of the Roman empire began in high school Latin class, where he read Cicero’s speeches against Catiline. He found Cicero’s rhetoric so powerful that he became enthralled by Roman politics and has been studying the subject compulsively for twenty years since. He is the author of several books, including Caesar's Legacy, Turia: A Roman Woman’s Civil War, and How to be a Bad Emperor.

    Listen to Josiah and Ryan’s previous conversation from 05/11/22 here: https://dailystoic.com/josiah-osgood/ 

    Check out Rome’s Last Citizen by Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni.

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  • A night spent at the airport. A prison sentence. A two week bout with COVID. The crazy rush of the busiest season of the year for your business. We know we’re in for it. We dread it. We curse our fate.

    Actually, we should take a page from the great performance artist Marina Abramović, which she shares in her incredible book Walk Through Walls: A Memoir. She was known for her artistic feats of strength—whether it was days in a chair staring at strangers or inviting her audience to use 72 objects on her in any manner they please. In the middle of a project that would test both her and her partner Ulay emotionally and physically, Abramović once encouraged him, “we are not having a good or bad experience. We are having an experience in a period of 16 days. Whatever comes—good or bad—we are in it.”

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  • As summer now passes into fall and all too quickly fall turns to winter, it is worth stopping and thinking for a second. Where did that time go? Not long ago you were watching fireworks and enjoying the light late into the evening. Now, suddenly, you’re in sweaters, looking at your lawn covered in leaves, wondering why it’s so dark and the evening news hasn’t even finished.

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  • Nobody wrote about the “good life” more beautifully than Horace (65-8 BCE). In numerous writings, the Roman poet shared his wisdom on how to use virtue as a key to unlocking contentment and, therefore, happiness in our daily lives. Today, Ryan presents a selection of Horace’s ideas in the second half of the “The Search For the Good Life” chapter in the How to Be Content installment of Princeton University Press’s Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers series, translated by Stephen Harrison.

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  • In the second of a two-part interview, Ryan speaks with one of the great non-fiction writers and historians of our time, Adam Hochschild, about his classic 1986 memoir Half The Way Home: A Memoir of Father and Son, the impetus for his latest book American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and Democracy's Forgotten Crisis, and the process that Adam went through to improve his relationship with his father, and more. 

    Adam Hochschild is an American author, journalist, historian, and lecturer. He has written 11 books, including the highly regarded and influential King Leopold’s Ghost and Bury the Chains. He has written for the New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, The Atlantic, Granta, the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Review of Books, the New York Times Magazine, and The Nation. He has received many awards for his writing, including the Duff Cooper Prize and the Mark Lynton History Award for King Leopold’s Ghost, and the California Book Awards Gold Medal and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History for Bury the Chains. Adam graduated from Harvard in 1963, and he holds honorary degrees from Curry College and the University of St. Andrews.

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  • It doesn't matter who you are, the facts are the same. Marcus Aurelius was Emperor. Epictetus was a slave. Two different fates, but the same reality. Most of life, most situations are out of our control. All we can do is respond to them well. All we can do is endure them.

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  • We live in unprecedented times, we like to think. Our technology. Our conflicts. The state of the world. It’s all very new, it’s all very different.

    But is it though?

    Check out the Read To Lead Challenge 2022 and the Memento Mori Medallion.

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  • In Meditations, Marcus Aurelius marvels at “nature’s inadvertence.” A baker, he writes, makes the dough, kneads it and then puts it in the oven. Then physics, then Nature takes over. “The way loaves of bread split open,” Marcus writes, “the ridges are just byproducts of the baking, and yet pleasing, somehow: they rouse our appetite without our knowing why.”

    Today is the last day you can order our premium leather-bound edition of Meditations to ensure holiday delivery!

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  • In the first of a two-part interview, Ryan speaks with one of the great non-fiction writers and historians of our time, Adam Hochschild, about how history can inform the push for change in the present, the civil rights trailblazers he examined in his book Bury the Chains (one of Ryan’s favorites), the links between the Stoic virtues and the United States’ anti-slavery movement, and more. Part two will be published on Saturday.

    Adam Hochschild is an American author, journalist, historian, and lecturer. He has written 11 books, including the highly regarded and influential King Leopold’s Ghost. He has written for the New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, The Atlantic, Granta, the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Review of Books, the New York Times Magazine, and The Nation. He has received many awards for his writing, including the Duff Cooper Prize and the Mark Lynton History Award for King Leopold’s Ghost, and the California Book Awards Gold Medal and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History for Bury the Chains. Adam graduated from Harvard in 1963, and he holds honorary degrees from Curry College and the University of St. Andrews.

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  • “It is a vast kingdom to be able to cope without a kingdom,” Seneca wrote in his play, Thyestes. This was no mere word play. This was hard-won wisdom.

    No one can stop you from ruling over yourself. It’s the best and the biggest and the strongest kingdom there is.

    ---

    Those who have never been tested should be pitied, Seneca said, because they don’t know what they’re capable of. To Marcus, philosophy was all about challenging yourself. It was about settling on words and reminders (epithets, he called them) to live up to, particularly in difficult situations.

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  • The Roman Empire at that time was enormous. Jobs were scarce. Unemployment was high. Rapid expansion and economic stagnation had led to a sort of economic recession–one not unlike the one that looms globally right now.

    In response, the upper and ruling classes came together and instituted the Cura Annonae—the “care of grain.” The government distributed free grain to the poor and the suffering, ensuring that everyone had enough to eat, doing their Stoic duty to care for the common good.

    It’s an inspiring legacy that continues to this day–in fact, it’s one we’ve tried to not just speak about here at Daily Stoic but act on.

    If you would like to donate to Feeding America, just head over to dailystoic.com/feeding

    If you live outside the U.S., check out Action Against Hunger —the global humanitarian organization that fights against hunger across nearly 50 countries.

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  • For many people, happiness is associated with contentment: being around family, enjoying work, having enough. But what are the secrets to obtaining a contented life in a world of materialistic excess and personal pressures?

    One of Rome's greatest and most influential poets, Horace (65-8 BCE) shared his wisdom about this question in his writings. In How to Be Content, Stephen Harrison, a leading authority on the poet, provides fresh, contemporary translations of poems from across Horace's works that continue to offer important lessons about the good life, friendship, love, and death.

    In this episode Ryan presents an excerpt of that book which specifically focuses on the idea of passion, and how the drive to obtain more and more can come between us and the good life.

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  • Ryan talks to mother-daughter duo Drs. Edith Enger and Marianne Engle about their work in clinical psychology, the power of spreading kindness in a world that often seems very cruel, letting go of the past through forgiveness, and more.

    A native of Hungary, Dr. Edith Eva Eger was just a teenager in 1944 when she experienced one of the worst evils the human race has ever known. As a Jew living in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, she and her family were sent to Auschwitz. Her parents were sent to the gas chambers, but Edith’s bravery kept her and her sister alive. Toward the end of the war Edith and other prisoners had been moved to Austria. On May 4, 1945 a young American soldier noticed her hand moving slightly amongst a number of dead bodies. He quickly summoned medical help and brought her back from the brink of death. Dr. Eger is a practicing psychologist and a specialist in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. She is the author of the bestselling memoir The Choice: Embrace the Possible and The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life. 

    Edith’s daughter, Dr. Marianne Engle, is a clinical psychologist, sports psychologist, and author of a sports psychology program for youth athletes and coaches. Her clients have included professional athletes and teams from the NBA, PGA, and the America’s Cup sailing race in addition to elite athletes in ice skating, baseball, tennis, soccer, water polo, squash, dressage, volleyball, etc. She is currently on the faculty of the NYU Langone Medical School. She has held faculty appointments at Harvard, MIT, and UCSD in addition to being a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Sport and Society. She is a board member of the NYU Sport and Society program. Marianne also has a long history as a food writer and cook.

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  • Yesterday we took a minute to think of all that we have to be grateful for, all the blessings life has bestowed on us–even if those things didn’t always appear to be blessings at the time. Well, today, on so called ‘Black Friday’ in America, instead of rushing out to get a deal on a flat-screen television, we should think about what to do with all that gratitude.

    It is our duty to help others. To serve others. To help people from going hungry. To alleviate someone’s worry and fear. To put food on their table.

    To contribute to Team Feed Corporate to help end hunger in America, visit dailystoic.com/feeding.

    If you live outside the U.S., check out Action Against Hunger, and click here to donate.

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  • Today in America is Thanksgiving. It’s the day when we’re supposed to actively practice gratitude, and be thankful for all that we have. Yet this can be hard to do…when the specter of a World War looms, the lingering of a terrible pandemic, the reality of a recession, divided politics and so many other obstacles sit before us.

    But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

    📕 We created a premium leather-bound edition of Meditations - To learn more and to pick up your own copy of this beautiful new edition of Meditations, visit dailystoic.com/meditations

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  • At the beginning of Meditations, Marcus Aurelius laments the kind of people he’s going to meet each day—the bitter, the stupid, the jealous, the petty. Throughout the book he mentions other undesirables—the shameless, the evil, the greedy, the ignorant, the manipulative. Today, we could add still others— racists, polluters, rage profiteers, trolls and on and on.

    These people are frustrating. They make the world less safe, less productive, less collaborative. They poison the common good. They destroy any semblance of common understanding or commonality, period.

    But instead of getting angry at them, try pity first.

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  • Ryan talks to Professor Jennifer Baker about her approach to teaching Stoicism, ethics, and political theory at the College of Charleston, what the Stoics might have said about driving a Mercedes instead of a Hyundai (or a Tesla), the challenges of teaching to today’s student population, and more.

    Jennifer Baker holds a Ph.D in Philosophy from the University of Arizona and B.A. in Philosophy from Brown. She brings her academic training and passion for understanding ancient wisdom to the courses that she teaches on ethical and political theory, environmental ethics and philosophy, business ethics, bioethics, and American philosophy. Her research is on virtue ethics, and she looks to ancient ethical theories as positive examples of how ethics ought to be done today. She explores philosophical ideas in her blog on Psychology Today: For the Love of Wisdom.

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  • This is what we tell ourselves: Someday I will write my book. Someday I will travel abroad. Someday I will learn how to play guitar.

    But someday soon, you will no longer be able to say, “someday…”

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    “A good character is the only guarantee of everlasting, carefree happiness.” – Seneca

    The Stoics believed in living a virtuous life, one with the potential to bring us personal happiness and fulfillment. And that’s one of the reasons a person may choose to live after their fashion. After all, what good is philosophy if it doesn’t ultimately bring us happiness?

    But in Stoic philosophy, it’s the pursuit of virtue and good character that allows us to get there. For the Stoic, the pursuit of virtue is the pursuit of happiness. If we can live virtuously, a good life will follow.

    ---

    If you want your own physical reminder of Memento Mori to create priority, humility, and appreciation for life, you can pick up one of our Memento Mori medallions to carry in your pocket everywhere you go. It is a part of our 2022 Daily Stoic Gift Guide, which is packed with 13 great gifts for the Stoic in your life.

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