Image for post
Image for post
©Darius Foroux

I discovered Stoicism in early 2015, right around the time my grandmother passed away, and I was dealing with a breakup and a career switch — everything happened at the same time. Stoicism helped me remain resilient during that difficult time. I’ve been studying the philosophy ever since.

Inspired by Seneca’s renowned letters, I’m starting a weekly column here on Medium, that I call the Stoic Letter.

Roughly speaking, there are two philosophies to base your life on.

  1. Seeking pleasure: Think of Hedonism and Epicureanism
  2. Finding pleasure in duty: Think of Stoicism, Zen, and other philosophies that promote self-reliance

I believe seeking pleasure is the current philosophy of the world. We live in a society that revolves around pleasure, consumption, and escapism. …


It’s time to pay it forward—and get paid along the way

Image for post
Image for post

In 2015, Arlan Hamilton slept on the floors of the San Francisco Airport because she couldn’t afford a hotel. Fast forward to October 2018, and she’s the head of a multi-million-dollar investment fund that invests in under-represented start-up founders.

Hamilton didn’t go to college. She didn’t have the privileges of white men in Silicon Valley. So how did she do it? In her book, It’s About Damn Time, Hamilton writes about how it all starts with your mindset:

“If you have no assets, you have to become the asset… And the way to do that is through having more knowledge about your corner of the world than anyone else.” …


Image for post
Image for post
©Darius Foroux

What were your plans for this year? I wanted to move to Valencia, Spain. I’ve been there several times and always felt at home. I had gotten pretty far with my plans. I made sure I had no long-term commitments and was looking at properties. But like the rest of the world, I had to adjust my plans. We were all forced to participate in a classic Stoic exercise.

This is something Epictetus talked about in his philosophy school. He said, “When you are traveling by ship, you can go to the shore, enjoy the scenery, collect shells, or pick flowers. …


And three common decision making pitfalls to avoid

Image for post
Image for post

To improve your decisions, you want to look at your process for making a decision. Most people assume that good decision making is a matter of picking a course of action that leads to the desired outcome.

That’s a misconception. Decision making refers to your cognitive process. It’s about how you end up with your decision, not what the decision leads to.

Good decision making can lead to bad outcomes. The opposite is also true. Bad decision making doesn’t mean you always get bad results. For every decision, there are external factors that influence your outcomes.

So how can we improve our decisions? By focusing on the process, not the outcome. The best method for improving your decision making process is to ask yourself critical questions. It’s not enough to ask obvious questions like, “What are my alternatives? What has worked for others? What are the consequences?” …


Image for post
Image for post
©Darius Foroux

It’s so important to only focus on what you control. Everyone seems to talk about that these days, which is great because we all need those types of reminders. But I also feel like I’m constantly bombarded with useless information, which neutralizes those good reminders. This morning I saw something about Bitcoin, and then I spent the next thirty minutes following one link after the other. I started reading about the history of money, but by the end, I was getting lost on Wikipedia. How often does this happen to you? …


Asian man on his laptop.
Asian man on his laptop.
Photo: Oscar Wong/Getty Images

Most of us spend a lot of time reading, talking, and thinking about politics. While we can make an impact by voting and supporting our candidates and causes, we need to be aware of our limitations as well.

Consider: how does it benefit you to internalize stress about things you don’t control? To a Stoic, “indifference” means that none of the external things that happen to us are inherently good or bad, and so our task is to remain indifferent to external ups and downs (both fortune and misfortune). We should focus instead on our highest aim. For a classic Stoic, that highest aim is living a virtuous and moral life. …


Having a long and consistent career requires doing just enough each day

Image for post
Image for post
Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

It’s simple and inevitable: When you try to do too much in a short amount of time, you burn out. The only way to avoid that, to have a long and consistent career, is to do just enough each day.

But what is enough? To find out, let’s look to those who have it down to a formula.

When we think about the most productive people, it’s easy to assume they’re working 18-hour days and sacrificing their personal lives (and sleep) to get it all done. But that’s just not the case.

Take Stephen King, who publishes a book a year: In spite of his extraordinary output, he’s not sitting at a computer and writing all day long. In his memoir On Writing, King writes: “I like to get 10 pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words.” …


It’s simple and it saves you time

Image for post
Image for post

How often did you get a good idea for a business that you never executed? I used to be the master of this. I had ideas for businesses all the time and was convinced it would be a hit. But I never actually validated my ideas.

I just said, “This idea is great!” And just moved on with my life. I never executed my ideas. You know why? I tried several things that didn’t work out. I wasted my time and money. So at some point, I got enough of that.

This is the story of many entrepreneurs. You come up with an idea, you start working on it, no one is interested, and you give up. But entrepreneurship is not something you do; it’s something you are. …


”I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was duty. I worked — and behold, duty was joy.”

Image for post
Image for post

There’s this thing I noticed with people who do well in life. They are all very active and productive. Just think of any person you admire, and ask yourself, “Why do I look up to this person?”

Let me give you an example. My favorite filmmaker is Christopher Nolan. I’ve seen all his feature films (except for his latest), and they are all amazing — from the cinematography and music to the casting and acting.

The man is a master of his craft. But why is Nolan respected by so many people? It’s not because he made one or two great films. There are many great films, made by great directors. No, he’s one of the most consistent filmmakers there is — in terms of quality and output. …


The more we delay things, the more resistance we create

Image for post
Image for post

Everyone procrastinates. If you ever meet a person who claims they never procrastinate, you’re probably dealing with a robot.

Just because everyone procrastinates, it doesn’t mean it’s good behavior. It means we as humans have our flaws. And that’s okay.

But what is procrastination actually? You hear so much about it. Some people say it’s good for creativity. Others say it’s the biggest enemy of results (me). I’ve found that procrastination means different things to different people.

You’re procrastinating when you’re “delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring.” …

About

Darius Foroux

Creator of the Stoic Letter (new letter comes out every Friday) | Author of 7 books and 6 courses at dariusforoux.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store