When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
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 in or embrace stoicism as a philosophical lens to craft my life. What I didn’t know then was that stoicism, often represented by Marcus Aurelius’ famous Meditations, talks about accepting the present moment as it is and the importance of understanding our role within nature’s plan. And 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 labeled 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. I can relate to this line of thought 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. After a quick research, I discovered that Marcus Aurelius used to follow and suggest a set of behaviors 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 or 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. If we don’t make a conscious effort to manage our exposure, it may lead to imbalances and start affecting our well-being. Overarousal leads to poor sleep and a 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 to 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 called endorphins are linked 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 later 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 getting some perspective. For instance, the more we focus on our own pain, the less we can see the beauty and people around us. I often get so trapped within my own pain that I lose the capacity to fully understand 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 in, 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 on the internet, or mindlessly playing video games. I’m not saying these activities should be eliminated but I strongly recommend you analyze how much time you spend using gadgets while you could be enjoying and savoring some good human company.
Prepare For Mornings
I’ve been lazy about this topic for since I can remember but I’m sure 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 have to think about what I’m going to dress than to wake up and have to put an outfit together while I’m still drooling and sleepy.
Whether you identify yourself as a stoic or not, there is plenty of good advice you can take from epic stoics such as Marcus Aurelius, and apply it to your everyday life as you see fit. From staying physically active to observing what is going on in your life from a third perspective, you can recreate your own evening routine with some of the aspects you have read about here. You may also want to explore and add other offline activities or some grounding techniques that will also help you rebalance your energy field.
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Let’s take a moment and explore how well-being and Stoicism relate. Better said, how Stoicism can improve your well-being. There are many facets of this ancient philosophy, which are still relevant today. We’ll first look at a brief introduction of what Stoicism is and then we will examine the Stoics’ view on how control can help us improve our well-being.Keep reading