Tag Archive | Stoicism


Distinguish between rational fears, with real consequences, and irrational fears, where there really aren’t any consequences. (Tim Ferris)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I become antifragile?”

Aim not just for courage, but fearlessness.

“Isn’t fear useful? It keeps us alive.”

Some fears are useful; most fears are useless. Useless fears are irrational. Useless fears are the main obstacle that keeps you from reaching your potential.

Whenever you experience fear, ask yourself:

Is this a useful or a useless fear?

Every time you identify a useless fear, practice fearlessness.”

Two types of thoughts

There are only two things you can control with certainty: your actions and your thoughts. So focus all your effort on improving those things and bringing them into true alignment.

Waste no thought on the things you cannot control.

We don’t control our thoughts.

We aren’t the ones who decide what thoughts to think. We just experience them and their consequences.

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How might we reconcile these two ideas?”

“There are two kinds of thoughts:

Voluntary Thoughts – within our control
Involuntary Thoughts – outside our control

Our thoughts create our reality, and most thoughts are involuntary.”

“Then where’s our control?”

“We can control our voluntary thoughts, and our response to involuntary thoughts.

Remember that beautiful quote about improvisation?

When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note you play that determines if it’s good or bad. (Miles Davis)

We cannot control our involuntary thoughts, but we can answer unresourceful involuntary thoughts with voluntary thoughts. 

The voluntary thought is the next note you play.

The Art of Anchoring 5

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the best Memento Mori reminder?”

Your breath, because it’s always with you. Imagine the last breath you’ll ever take, and savor this breath as if it was your last.”

“What is the second-best reminder?”

People. Acknowledge your common humanity. Imagine the last breath they’ll ever take, and revel in the shared moment as if it was their last.”

The most important daily practice

Lost time is never found again. (Benjamin Franklin)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the most important daily practice?”

Memento Mori. 

Contemplating death.”

“Isn’t that a bit grim?

Why not contemplate life?”

“In contemplating death you are contemplating life. They’re two sides of the same coin.

There’s also value in their contrasting [<link; short read] effect. No better way to appreciate the immeasurable value of your time.”

“I keep forgetting it.”

“That’s why it’s a daily practice.”

The Art of Perception 7

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“It took me TWO HOURS to send a little package at the post-office.”

“It doesn’t matter what happened. The only thing that matters is how you respond to it.

What is the antifragile response?

In an important sense, the Art of Living is the Art of Perception. You’re upset only because of your interpretation of it. And your interpretation is largely a matter of what you choose to focus on.

How can you beautify this interpretation?

Design interpretation, then design behavior.

How could you have beautified that time?

The Challenge Principle

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I can’t meditate. My mind is racing / I’m feeling x.”

That’s the BEST time to meditate.

Remember the ultimate goal of the practice.”

Achieving Stillness under ANY conditions.

“Keep that in mind always, and treasure any opportunity to practice it.”

Learning Cycles

When the light has been removed and my wife has fallen silent, aware of this habit that’s now mine, I examine my entire day and go back over what I’ve done and said, hiding nothing from myself, passing nothing by. For why should I fear any consequence from my mistakes, when I’m able to say, ‘See that you don’t do it again, but now I forgive you.’ (Seneca)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Donal Robertson called this beautiful daily Stoic practice ‘learning cycles.’ His suggestion is, at the end of each day, to ask yourself three simple questions:

What did you do well?
What did you do badly?
What could you do differently?

I like to optimize everything, so I modified it a little to suit my needs:

Celebrate: What did you do well?
Understand: What did you do badly?
Optimize: What can you do differently?
Implement: What will you do differently?

The problem is, I can’t remember every detail at the end of the day.”

“This is good memory practice. However, you don’t need to remember every detail. Only the most important ones. 

Think 80/20, always.

Think of it as data.”

“What’s the most important data at the end of the day?”

“I’ve identified two: failure-points, and decision-points.

There’s a quote I love from Ray Dalio’s book Principles: Life and Work:

I have found it helpful to think of my life as if it were a game in which each problem I face is a puzzle I need to solve. By solving the puzzle, I get a gem in the form of a principle that helps me avoid the same sort of problem in the future. Collecting these gems continually improves my decision making, so I am able to ascend to higher and higher levels of play in which the game gets harder and the stakes become ever greater.

All failure-points and decision-points hold a hidden gem within, which allows you to optimize the systems of your life – decision-making being one of the most important ones –, and ascend to higher and higher levels of the Game.”

The Art of Perception 4

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Every obstacle is a Gift.”

“It’s easy to say that in hindsight.

The Art is seeing/feeling it in the moment.”


Make every obstacle an anchor that connects you to the universe of Meaning.

With every obstacle, practice SEEING the Macro in the Micro [<link; medium read].

Turning obstacles upside down 2

Flow with whatever may happen, and let your mind be free: Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate. (Chuang Tzu)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I woke up in an unresourceful state again.”

“How does that make you feel?”



“It messes with my morning practice.”

“So it messes with an expectation for things to be in a certain way.”

“I guess it does.”

“What’s in your control?”

How I RESPOND to it.

“NEVER forget that.

What’s the best response?”

Inversion[<link; medium read].

The Obstacle is the Way.

“That’s the spirit.

Let go of expectations.

Whenever you encounter an obstacle, that BECOMES your practice.

Embrace it. 
Give it your full attention.

Turn every obstacle into MEDITATION.

Every obstacle is ALL obstacles.

Every obstacle is a potential Evolution-Point.

Whenever you encounter an obstacle, EVOLVE.

On Self-Actualization and Mastery

The study of forms leave forms (Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What does Mastery look like in the context of Self-Actualization?”

“One way to think of it is by analogy with Chess.

Over the years, the Chess-Master accumulates a vast amount of chess-related knowledge and integrates it so profoundly, that it allows him to intuitively find the best move in any situation in an instant.

In the same way, over the years, the Sage accumulates a vast amount of practical knowledge and integrates it so profoundly, that it allows him to intuitively make the best decision in any situation in an instant.”