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The Lessons of Stoicism

The Lessons of Stoicism

— Nicholas Vardy

“Here’s a quick summary of what Stoicism teaches us.

Lesson No. 1: Radical Acceptance:

Acceptance stands at the core of Stoicism. The Stoics tell us that we should accept unconditionally anything that is outside of our control. Avoiding the unpleasant in life is impossible. It’s best to bear the uncomfortable with equanimity. Amor fati – “love your fate” – as Marcus Aurelius advised.

Lesson No. 2: Focus on Yourself

The only thing we control is our perceptions. The key to freedom is to focus only on our own beliefs and actions. The Stoics admonish us to not focus on the trivial. Avoid gossip and rude, vulgar conversation. Were the original Stoics alive today, they would tell us to avoid all social media.

Lesson No. 3: Character Is Key

For the Stoics, character is everything. The only real value in life is to act virtuously. And this means living your life in a specific way. The Stoics counseled that we should do only what is right. Remain indifferent to criticism. Only the vulgar measure their self-worth by external things.”



No person hands out their money to passersby, but to how many do each of us hand out our lives! We’re tightfisted with property and money, yet think too little of wasting time, the one thing about which we should all be the toughest misers.

No person hands out their money to passersby, but to how many do each of us hand out our lives! We’re tightfisted with property and money, yet think too little of wasting time, the one thing about which we should all be the toughest misers.

— Seneca

There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind, especially if he has within himself the kind of thoughts that let him dip into them and so at once gain complete ease of mind; and by ease of mind, I mean nothing but having one’s own mind in good order. So constantly give yourself this retreat and renew yourself

There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind, especially if he has within himself the kind of thoughts that let him dip into them and so at once gain complete ease of mind; and by ease of mind, I mean nothing but having one’s own mind in good order. So constantly give yourself this retreat and renew yourself

People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills; and you too are especially inclined to feel this desire. But this is altogether unphilosophical, when it is possible for you to retreat into yourself at any time you want.

There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind, especially if he has within himself the kind of thoughts that let him dip into them and so at once gain complete ease of mind; and by ease of mind, I mean nothing but having one’s own mind in good order. So constantly give yourself this retreat and renew yourself.

You should have at hand concise and fundamental principles, which will be enough, as soon as you encounter them, to cleanse you from all distress and send you back without resentment at the activities to which you return.

Marcus Aurelius
Charlie Munger on the secret to a long and happy life…

Charlie Munger on the secret to a long and happy life…

… Now that is easy, because it’s so simple. 

You don’t have a lot of envy. You don’t have a lot of resentment, You don’t overspend your income. You stay cheerful in spite of your troubles. You deal with reliable people and you do what you’re supposed to do. And all these simple rules work so well to make your life better. And they’re so trite. 

‘How old were you when you figured this out?’

About seven. I could tell that some of my older people were a little bonkers. I’ve always been able to recognize that other people were a little bonkers. And it helped me because there’s so much irrationality in the world. And I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, its causes and its preventions, and so forth. Sure it’s helped me. 

And–staying cheerful…because it’s a wise thing to do. Is that so hard? And can you be cheerful when you’re absolutely mired in deep hatred and resentment? Of course you can’t. So why would you take it on? 

‘Is there any advice you would go back and give your 20-year-old self? ’

Many of my children have worked out well. And I’ve had very little to do with it. I think they come into the world, to a certain extent, pre-made. And you just sit there and watch…. It’s been simply amazing to me as a parent to note know much is sort of preordained. The shy baby is the shy adult. The booming, obnoxious, domineering baby is the booming, domineering, obnoxious adult. I’ve never found a way to fix that. I can be cheerful about it, but I can’t fix it. I can change my reaction, but I can’t change the outcome.

— Charlie Munger