5 Stoic Questions to Ask Yourself Daily
Stoicism is an age-old philosophy, but its teachings still work well in the modern world. Many Stoic lessons focus on resilience, self-reflection, and wisdom. The ancient Stoics consistently questioned their values to become better humans and professionals. That’s where Stoicism and minimalism go hand in hand. On this basis, here are five Stoic questions to ask yourself daily.
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Stoicism experienced a renaissance in recent years.
Thanks to blogs, new translations, and recent books on the subject, the teachings of Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus are nowadays popular personal growth tools.
I am a big fan of Stoicism, mostly thanks to its congruence with modern minimalist principles. The Stoics were the minimalists of Ancient Rome – if you will.
With the pace and stress of our uber-connected world, many people turn to minimalism to retake control over their lives. And Stoicism offers the perfect philosophical footing.
So, how can we incorporate Stoicism into our daily lives? How can we use the ideals of great Roman emperors and philosophers to better ourselves?
The best way to start is to ask yourself daily Stoic questions. Self-analysis is an essential component of a Stoic lifestyle, much like modern-day mindfulness.
In this regard, daily Stoic questions work well in the context of journaling. By questioning your challenges, fears, and plans in your diary, you can boost your resilience.
What kind of questions should you ask?
5 Stoic questions to ask yourself daily
The following are my top five Stoic questions to ask yourself daily. They sum up some of the most essential Stoic principles and perfectly align with minimalist thinking patterns.
1. Did you act according to the 4 virtues of Stoicism today?
Stoicism contains a vast panoply of principles and ideals, but there are four overriding virtues.
First, the Ancient Stoics preached justice.
Did you treat people well today? Were your actions justified? It doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes, one daily act of kindness suffices to have a positive impact.
The second Stoic virtue is wisdom. Did you read today? Did you better yourself mentally? A few pages a day are often the foundation to become wiser in the long haul.
The third Stoic virtue is temperance.
“Ask yourself at every moment, is this necessary?” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 4.24
Temperance – as a Stoic principle – is not directly related to alcohol or self-indulgence. It’s an essentialist concept.
Did you focus on the essentials today? Did your actions have value and purpose? And most importantly, are you prioritizing the right things?
In the words of Epictetus,
“Curb your desire. Don’t set your heart on so many things and you will get what you need.”
Finally, the fourth Stoic virtue is courage.
Yes, in Ancient Rome, the Stoics faced different character tests. After all, today’s minimalists don’t have to ride out to war with pikes and swords.
Nevertheless, everyone faces challenges. In this context, Stoicism encourages boldness and braveness.
Am I taking on enough challenges? How do I deal with the difficulties in my life?
2. Did you write down your fears and hopes?
Journaling and recapping your daily highs and lows is an essential Stoic habit.
Seneca transferred his thoughts to paper every night after his wife had gone to bed.
His ritual consisted of the following:
“I examine my entire day and go back over what I’ve done and said – hiding nothing from myself, passing nothing by.”
The habit ensured a “particularly sweet” sleep.
Writing down your fears, hopes, and achievements has various benefits.
First, it creates space in your head – improving the quality of your sleep.
It is also a potent personal development tool. By accentuating daily wins, it shows that every accomplishment is just an accumulation of small achievements.
3. Did you enjoy the good things today? Because nothing lasts forever
“Alexander the Great and his mule driver both died – the same thing happened to both.” — Marcus Aurelius
Stoic teachings always underline the impermanence of life.
Consequently, one of the most important Stoic questions to ask yourself daily is the following:
Did I take advantage of today? Was my day filled with enough enjoyment and satisfaction?
No matter the circumstances, nothing lasts forever. Memento mori – remember that you are mortal – is a cardinal principle in Stoicism.
Tangent to this, modern minimalists seek to enjoy moments and experiences, not things.
We want to live intentionally and focus our energy, creativity, and resources on our real priorities – away from consumerism and social media.
Ergo, a daily reminder to live more intentionally functions well in both Stoicism and minimalism.
4. Did you practice mindfulness today?
Meditation and self-reflection play a central role in ancient Stoicism.
Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius would meditate every day, even before ordering his generals to crush enemy forces.
As minimalists, we don’t have to throw spears, but we seek to analyze our strengths and weaknesses. And objective assessments are only possible with self-reflective acts.
Incorporate a short stint of mediation into your morning routine. Take a few minutes every day to slow down and allow your pensive self to shine. And most importantly, keep yourself accountable for practicing mindfulness.
Ask yourself every night: did I reflect well on today’s choices? The answer can be a simple yes or no.
The point is to cultivate mindful habits that will serve you in the long run.
5. Did you train your perceptions and reactions today?
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.“ – Marcus Aurelius
If you’re familiar with Marcus’ writing, you’ll know that perception is everything.
Marcus became one of Ancient Rome’s most revered leaders. His success was mostly thanks to his ability to turn obstacles into opportunities.
Every hindrance became a chance to adapt. Setback provided valuable lessons. And finally, every mistake became a call to improvement.
His tactics would later inspire figures like Napoleon and George Washington.
How does this fit into the context of daily Stoic questions?
Simple, ask yourself how you reacted today. Our lives are full of reactions. We respond to opinions, media stories, and events.
Stoic training – as in perception controlling – can help us adopt better responses and contain our anxiety. As such, we learn how to deal with angst, anger, and fear in a more resilient manner.
For a longer analysis of the Stoic art of turning obstacles into opportunities, read The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday.
Useful links on 5 Daily Stoic Questions to Ask Yourself
- more in the section “Culture”
- read Stoicism and Minimalism – 10 Lessons From Marcus Aurelius
- read 6 Mindful Ways to Slow Your Life Down
- check out My Daily Journaling Routine in 3 Essential Parts
- read 6 Ways to Empty Your Mind if You Are Stressed Out
Don’t miss a beat!
May 13, 2020 @ 3:35 pm
Yes, minimalism isn’t just trendy attitude of opposing consumerism and opulence, it was guiding religions and their trendsetters à la Jesus, St Francis of Assisi or the 8 percept row of buddhisme..
May 13, 2020 @ 4:03 pm