Daily Stoic: January — Clarity
I am rereading Daily Stoic this year. Again. Here are my daily meditations…
1. GAIN CLARITY ON THE THINGS YOU CONTROL & THINGS YOU DON’T.
The main task is to “identify and separate matters” that you control and you don’t control.
Left column: things you control. Right column: things you don’t control. Write those down.
2. PRIORITIZE SELF-KNOWLEDGE
You choose to gain new knowledge because you want to be free. You know that it will enable you to “be freer, fear less, and achieve a state of peace.”
Self-knowledge is the knowledge that will enable you the most.
3. BE RUTHLESS TO THE THINGS THAT DON’T MATTER
Understand your Purpose. Gain Clarity on your Values. Break your Vision into Goals. Goals into Monthly Projects. Monthly Projects into Weekly Projects. Weekly Projects into Systems. Systems into to-do lists. Execute.
Destroy everything that is not aligned with your Vision.
4. MANAGE THESE 3: PERCEPTION | ACTION | WILL
Control your perceptions.
Direct your actions properly.
Willingly accept what’s outside your control.
5. DIRECT YOUR EFFORTS AT A PURPOSE
Having an end in mind is no guarantee you will reach it.
Not having an end in mind is a guarantee you won’t.
Direct your efforts at a Cause or Purpose. Failure is a child of Directionlessness.
6. UNDERSTAND WHO YOU TRULY ARE
A person who doesn’t know their purpose in life doesn’t know who they are or what the universe is.
Are you too busy chasing unimportant things, mimicking the wrong influences, and following disappointing or unfulfilling or nonexistent paths?
The essence of what you are lies at the bottom of understanding of what you are not. Cut through your own bullshit and you will find the truth.
7. PROGRAM YOUR MIND TO PERFORM FUNCTIONS
“Choice — to do and think right
Refusal — of temptation
Yearning — to be better
Repulsion — of negativity, of bad influences, of what isn’t true
Preparation — for what lies ahead or whatever may happen
Purpose — our guiding principle and highest priority
Assent — to be free of deception about what’s inside and outside our control (and be ready to accept the latter)”
Choose your thoughts.
Refuse to engage with things that make you weak.
Strive to kill the weakness of the mind.
Repulse the impositions of the world.
Prepare for war (fight distractions, your life is at stake).
Purpose = Obsession. Obsession = Mastery. Mastery = Success.
Assent — to not lie to yourself.
8. ELIMINATE YOUR WEAKNESS
“We must give up many things to which we are addicted,”
“Addiction is when we’ve “lost the freedom to abstain.”
What you are addicted to controls you. How long will you be a puppet of your incorrect thinking?
9. CONTROL YOUR MIND
You won’t control the external events.
We can only control our opinion about those events.
You don’t control the situation, but you control what you think about it.
Real clarity about the world: all we have is our own mind.
All you have ever experienced is your own mind. Yes. Read this again.
10. EXERCISE GOOD JUDGMENT
Steadiness. Stability. Tranquility.
It’s about filtering the outside world through the straightener of our judgement.
If you want to be steady, if you want clarity, proper judgment is the best way.
Good judgment = good decision-making ability. Fix your judgment system, and the rest will follow — your life will sort itself out.
11. BE ZEN
“The image of the Zen philosopher is the monk up in the green, quiet hills, or in a beautiful temple on some rocky cliff. The Stoics are the antithesis of this idea. Instead, they are the man in the marketplace, the senator in the Forum, the brave wife waiting for her soldier to return from battle, the sculptor busy in her studio. Still, the Stoic is equally at peace.”
You can still play the games of this world and be Zen. And you have to be Zen to choose the right games and win them.
Play stupid games. Win stupid prizes.
12. FOCUS ON YOUR CHOICES
“there is only one path to happiness, and that is in giving up all outside of your sphere of choice”
“the only thing you truly possess is your ability to make choices (and to use reason and judgment when doing so)”
“your fate is not entirely up to you”
Peace will come from taking full control of your choices. Choices of thoughts. Choices of words. Choices of action. Bring all your attention to the way you choose.
13. TAME THE MIND
“the circle of control contains just one thing: YOUR MIND. ”
“you’ve got just that one-item list. You’ve got just one thing to manage: your choices, your will, your mind.”
Everything you think is true about yourself is a lie. Your identity is a construct of the mind. But you are not the mind. The mind is only one function of consciousness. The mind is consciousness at play.
You are not your thoughts. Tame the mind because at the moment it is taming you.
14. CUT THE STRINGS
“What thoughts now occupy my mind?”
“distracting sinkholes: gossip, the endless call of work, as well as fear, suspicion, lust.”
“Man is pushed by drives but pulled by values.”
Watch closely all the things that are pulling you. Your mind is a puppeteer. Aren’t you tired to be its marionette?
You can cut the strings. The discipline of the mind is the blade that will set you free.
15. CARVE YOUR OWN PATH
“Greek word euthymia, which he defines as “believing in yourself and trusting that you are on the right path, and not being in doubt by following the myriad footpaths of those wandering in every direction.”
“we don’t need to constantly compare ourselves with other people or change our mind every three seconds based on new information.”
“tranquility and peace are found in identifying our path and in sticking to it”
Peter Thiel writes: “Competition is for losers.” You are already a monopoly, you just don’t know it yet.
There is no one better than you at being you. And when you become the best at what you are — you will find no competition.
“Find what feels like play to you and looks like work to others.” [Naval]
16. PRESSURE-TEST THE THINGS YOU DO OUT OF HABIT
“ stop seeking out pleasure and steering away from pain; to stop clinging to living and abhorring death; and in the case of property and money, to stop valuing receiving over giving.”
“Ask yourself: Is this really the best way to do it?”
The goal is not to build a perfect system of automatic behaviors. The goal is self-awareness.
17. DON’T FOOL YOURSELF
“Most teenagers choose to fool around rather than exert themselves. Halfhearted, lazy effort gives them a ready-made excuse: “It doesn’t matter. I wasn’t even trying. As we get older, failure is not so inconsequential anymore.”
If you are not exerting yourself, the only person you are fooling is you.
“You must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” [Feynman]
18. CHOOSE YOUR SEEING
“They (daily meditations) gave him a powerful perspective on ordinary or seemingly unbeautiful events. It takes an artist’s eye to see that the end of life is not unlike a ripe fruit falling from its tree”
“There is clarity (and joy) in seeing what others can’t see, in finding grace and harmony in places others overlook. Isn’t that far better than seeing the world as some dark place?”
They say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Well, everything is in the eye of the beholder.
You do not experience reality, only your perception of reality.
The world will show you only what you choose to see.
19. BUILD YOUR HOME
“A podium and a prison is each a place, one high and the other low, but in either place your freedom of choice can be maintained if you so wish.”
Your mind is your only home. It doesn’t matter where your physical body is. You can always find refuge inside your mind. The real question is: do you want to be there? Do you like the home you’ve built for yourself?
20. REIGNITE YOURSELF
“Your principles can’t be extinguished unless you snuff out the thoughts that feed them, for it’s continually in your power to reignite new ones.”
Life takes over. We get stuck in the rut. But who will ‘unstuck’ you? Whose responsibility is it to set you on fire?
21. BLOCK THE TIME TO REFLECT
“What am I lacking in attaining freedom from passion?”
“he carved out moments of quiet alone time — and that he wrote for himself, not for anyone else.”
Block the time in your day when you are alone with your thoughts. Write and rewrite everything that’s buzzing in your head. The content of your mind is your responsibility.
22. JOURNAL DAILY
“I will keep constant watch over myself and — most usefully — will put each day up for review.”
You can’t improve without feedback. Give feedback to yourself. Highlights | Lowlights | Focus.
- The things I did right
- The things that I could have done better
- The things I will focus on the next day
23. CHASE THE RIGHT THINGS. THE MONEY WILL COME.
“money only marginally changes life. ”
“External things can’t fix internal issues.”
Money is a by-product of your ability to solve problems. Solve big problems at scale and you will get rich.
However, your problem-solving ability is hindered by your internal issues. Leave them unresolved and you will not get rich.
It doesn’t matter how rich you get. There are 3 things everyone needs to earn regardless of money or status: a calm mind, a fit body, deep and meaningful relationships.
24. READ FOR UNDERSTANDING
“a teacher who developed in his student a love of deep clarity and understanding — a desire to not just stop at the surface when it comes to learning.”
“Edmund Wilson read books “as though the author was on trial for his life.”
Naval writes: “The smarter you are, the slower you read.”
Not all books are worth reading. Maybe 100 of them are. Those books should be studied, re-read, and understood deeply. But to find those 100 you will probably have to read several thousand.
Whatever it is. Read for understanding. If you are reading to boast online how many books you’ve read, you are doing it wrong.
25. GAIN CLARITY ON THE THINGS THAT TRULY MATTER
“Why? It’s not because these men [billionaires] are cheap. It’s because the things that matter to them are cheap.”
“This kind of clarity — about what they love most in the world — means they can enjoy their lives.”
Gain clarity about the things you love the most in the world. Those will be the things you can’t buy. Focus on growing that.
26. CREATE YOUR OWN MANTRA
“I have it in my soul to keep out any evil, desire or any kind of disturbance — instead, seeing the true nature of things, I will give them only their due. ”
“In Sanskrit, it [mantra] means “sacred utterance” — essentially a word, a phrase, a thought, even a sound — intended to provide clarity or spiritual guidance.”
Create your own mantra that will ground you in your truth. Repeat it when your mind is running wild.
In NLP, it’s called an “anchoring” ⚓ technique. You “anchor” your mind in a guiding principle that will help you to think and act the right way.
27. TRAIN YOUR MIND TO THINK BEFORE YOU DO
“First, we must consider what we should desire and what we should be averse to.”
“Next, we must examine our impulses to act — that is, our motivations.”
“Finally, there is our judgment. Our ability to see things clearly and properly comes when we use our great gift from nature: reason.”
“Our judgment affects what we desire, our desires affect how we act, just as our judgment determines how we act. ”
- Understand your wants. Identify the things that are good for you and things that are bad.
- Examine your actions. Do you act impulsively or act in awareness?
- Scrutinize your judgment. Are you exercising good judgment to understand the first two?
28. MODEL WHAT YOU WANT TO BECOME
“Take a good hard look at people’s ruling principle, especially of the wise, what they run away from and what they seek out.”
Those you follow program you. Be careful who you choose to model. Assemble your board of advisors. Wisely.
29. CHOOSE 2–3 THINGS YOU ARE OBSESSED ABOUT AND WORK LIKE MAD.
“Find clarity in the simplicity of doing your job today.”
Understand what are the high-impact activities that will get you to where you want to be, and throw all your energy into that. Concurrently, invest time every day to maximize your life energy.
There should be no time in your day to think about anything else. Purpose. Vision. Systems. Discipline.
“You can only achieve mastery in one or two things. It is usually the things you are obsessed about.” [Naval]
30. CUT THE NOISE
“If you wish to improve, be content to appear clueless or stupid in extraneous matters — don’t wish to seem knowledgeable. And if some regard you as important, distrust yourself.”
Care not about the games normal people play. Status. Titles. News. Politics. Gossip. Signaling success or signaling virtue.
What other people think is irrelevant to your mission. Focus on the important work. Work that truly matters.
31. BUILD THE FOUNDATION
“The busier we get, the more we work and learn and read, the further we may drift. We get in a rhythm. We’re making money, being creative, and we’re stimulated and busy. It seems like everything is going well. But we drift further and further from philosophy.
Eventually this neglect will contribute to a problem — the stress builds up, our mind gets cloudy, we forget what’s important — and result in an injury of some kind. ”
Philosophy is not some fancy-schmancy word you throw into a chat to impress another human. Philosophy is the foundation.
Can you live without a life philosophy? Yes, you can.
Will your life be unbelievably harder? 💯
Your life is not working because there is an error in your program. Philosophy is the timeless principles that ensure robust architecture within your OS.