I never thought of myself as a stoic person, because I always associated stoicism with a no feelings approach to life. Being over-emotional myself, I assumed there was no way I could fit within or embrace stoicism as a philosophical lense to craft my life. What I didn’t know then was that Marcus Aurelius is one the most popular figures of such school of thought and that stoicism talks about accepting the present moment as it is and the importance of understanding our role within nature’s plan. To do this, you need to embrace your sensations.
Stoicism also posits a great emphasis on virtue as one of the most important aspects human beings should focus on. According to this philosophy, only virtue can be labelled as ‘good’ while all other human-related aspects, such as wealth and health, shouldn’t be seen as either bad or good. In this sense, virtue would be the most sustainable source of happiness for human beings. As an INFP, I can relate to this line of thought to a great deal since, more often than not, doing the right thing is much more important to me than winning a good extra amount of pennies.
Another surprise to me was to find out that stoics seem to give great lifestyle advice. In a quick recent research, I discovered that Marcus Aurelius used to follow and suggest a set of behaviours and activities that are meant to generate stillness and promote both body and mind awareness. Altogether, these aspects contribute to a greater capacity to be virtuous and act accordingly. Below, you will find seven of Marcus Aurelius’ routine recommendations to achieve success.
Disconnect / Reduce Stimuli
Nowadays we are literally bombarded with information and all sorts of stimuli. This means our nervous system is constantly processing and transforming information, which requires a lot of energy from us and may create imbalances if we don’t manage the exposure. Overarousal leads to poor sleep and lack of cognitive resources such as the capacity of retaining a satisfactory amount of items in our working memory. Therefore, it is paramount to disconnect or significantly reduce stimuli in the evening, which will allow the mind and the body assume that soon will be time to sleep.
Regular exercise guarantees a natural supply of substances that reduce pain and increase that feeling good state we all look for. These substances are called endorphins which are then connected to neurotransmitters in the same way antidepressants are. Exercising also boosts body awareness and promotes the release of negative energy stored throughout the day.
Review Your Day
How will you improve if you don’t review your day’s actions and decisions? Reviewing what you did and how you feel at the end of the day allows you to connect with the present moment and realign yourself with your goals and aspirations. Hence, instead of taking days for granted, you start paying more attention to what happens and gain greater consciousness of the points you can improve. I find that the most effective way to do this is through journaling, since writing promotes retention in memory and provides a record for future access.
Connect With Your Higher Self
Taking a moment in your day to be with yourself and truly listening to what your mind and body have to tell you is very important. Your body is constantly giving you feedback and the clearer your mind, the more efficient you can be in any decision you make. I find meditation helpful on this matter. I have been meditating 10 minutes a day lately and I notice that I’m less reactive and more responsive when tricky situations arise.
We live in our heads most of the time and we tend to focus too much on our own narrative instead of stepping aside and get some perspective. For instances, the more we focus on our own pain, the less we can see. I often get so trapped within my own pain that I lose the capacity of fully understanding what the other person feels and why they feel so.
Spend Time With Family
Spending time with family or the people you love can be one of the most recharging activities you can invest on, as long as you are willing to use your time that way and be present with them. In this modern era, fewer people are spending quality time with their family members or loved ones. People are often glued to their phones, getting lost in the internet or mindlessly playing video games. I’m not saying these activities should be eliminated but I strongly recommend you analyse how much time you spend using gadgets whereas you could be enjoying and savouring some good human company.
Prepare For Mornings
I’ve been lazy about this topic since I can remember but I’m surely the first one to acknowledge that preparation can save time and peace of mind. In addition, it can be the push you need to get things done in the morning and get you going straight ahead. It is much easier to wake up and not having to think about what I’m going to dress that to wake up and having to put an outfit together while I’m still drooling and sleepy.