I started a new experiment, that of living in today’s world as an applied stoic of ancient Greece. For 50 days, I’m leading a stoic life, and I used the maximum possible number of precepts, teachings, traits and habits that I have collected in these last three years studying Stoic philosophy, a practical and active lifestyle.
I began little by little, and as I went forward, I embodied more stoic hacks in my day, my way of thinking, acting and behaving.
“Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our actions.” – Epictetus (Enchiridion)
During these years I have been creating a document that has attracted my attention from everything I have studied and researched on Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Diogenes, Epicurus (not counting him as a stoic), Cato, as well as Aristotle and Socrates (who although they are not recognised Stoics have very similar and exciting teachings and philosophy), as well as Ryan Holiday, Tim Ferriss and The Daily Stoic. I have read 15 books, and I have been developing my own lessons and conclusions, ending in systems such as the stoic morning ritual, my stoic principles, and how I interpret modern stoicism.
Now is the time to live it to the fullest as if I were a pure stoic living a stoic life, applied and committed, at least for 50 days.
What is the point of this experiment?
Work virtue, righteousness, justice, temperance, perseverance, the strength of being, soul and mind. To improve the absence of negative emotions because of any external event. To harden self-discipline and solidify equanimity. And also, to gain self-control.
“If you accomplish something good with hard work, the labour passes quickly, but the good endures; if you do something shameful in pursuit of pleasure, the pleasure passes quickly, but the shame endures” – Musonius Rufus.
There is no fixed objective other than strengthening, settling and calibrating everything stoicism has given me in these last two years.
The hypothesis that I try to test in this experiment is how an utterly stoic life can be the remedy for an almost sick society because of everything external, and because of the little knowledge, control, awareness and internal work.
As always, I will measure and monitor the experiment with a control panel, a textual analysis of sensations and daily videos that help express the experience.
Practices where to start to live a stoic life
From all of the learnings, teachings and lessons, these precepts below have been my first guidelines, the essential pillars for leading a stoic life during all of those days:
“Here’s a lesson to test your mind’s mettle: take part of a week in which you have only the most meagre and cheap food, dress scantly in shabby clothes, and ask yourself if this is the worst that you feared. It is when times are good that you should gird yourself for tougher times ahead, for when Fortune is kind, the soul can build defences against her ravages.” – Seneca.
Here are the precepts:
Eating the same food every day for 50 days, instead of bread, cheese and fruits, which was what the less opulent Stoics like Epictetus ate. Eating miso and fruit soup, vegetables and legumes for lunch, and eat vegetables for dinner. Without any luxury or pleasure added more than virgin olive oil. I drank only water and fruit juice.
Wearing the same clothes every day for 50 days. Washing it of course, and only changing it when I couldn’t get it dry on time.
Sleeping on the floor, or a mattress but nothing comfortable. Be at home or in a hotel, with just a blanket and a cushion; I didn’t sleep with a pillow either.
No praising or criticize anyone.
When someone asks for my opinion, I said the following: “I don’t know” – “I don’t care.”
Living in isolation from all external noise: I didn’t watch television, I didn’t use the Internet for entertainment, nor looking at social networks (I only published when I thought it was necessary, and I paid attention only to the students/participants of the online program Ultraproductivity Method that I launched a month ago). Instead, I got my entertainment from my study of stoicism through books, podcasts, videos and articles.
Remaining equanimous to all decisions, I didn’t put emotion in them. Something I already did, but I emphasized this more.
Accepting everything that comes as it comes.
Closing my eyes for longer so that I can live more inside.
Extending the time, I used negative visualization.
Practising the delayed gratification technique used by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Continuing to strive to apply the dichotomy of the Epictetus control. I reserved 15 minutes every night for awareness and self-reflection about what was within my control and what was not, and my role in what I was living. I asked myself: What can I change and what not? What can I influence and what not? What parts of the day are under my control, and what parts are not?
Loving my destiny as it came, Amor Fati.
Appreciating every morning that I was alive.
Using 30 minutes every day to withdraw into me: 30 minutes of total stillness.
Speaking slowly, I thought slowly; I acted slowly.
Not entering into any conversation about a third party.
Isolating myself from easy laughter, cynicism and satire.
Not attending places, events or presumptuous social events, nor parties, restaurants, bars or afterparties.
Showing austerity in every sense of life. I acted as if I didn’t have a car, money, food, clothes, or even somewhere to sleep. I pretended that I didn’t have hot water, that I didn’t have a driver’s license, that my passport and cards were stolen. And, I pretended that I had no food for a week and that there was no one to love me.
Using 10 things to live: laptop, smartphone, toiletry bag, bicycle, backpack, 6 books, superfoods, sunglasses, sportswear and a yoga mat.
Every morning I asked myself: What were the necessary things in life and the unnecessary things? And I went governed only by the first.
Celebrating the serenity ritual.
The key was not only to think about those things but to live them. And again, do it now, while things are good and going well.
Be a stoic
“It is precisely in times of immunity from care that the soul should toughen itself beforehand for occasions of more significant stress. If you would not have a man flinch when the crisis comes, train him before it comes.” – Seneca.
I can tell you that those practices have been vital; this experiment has helped me to manage every aspect of my everyday stoic life.
Are you willing to try it for yourself?