Four Habits Of The Stoic Mind

Four Habits Of The Stoic Mind

The Daily Stoic for November 18th, “Four Habits Of The Stoic Mind”.

“Our rational nature moves freely forward in its impressions when it: 1) accepts nothing false or uncertain; 2) directs its impulses only to acts for the common good; 3) limits its desires and aversions only to what’s in its own power; 4) embraces everything nature assigns it.” —MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 8.7”

Those four points Marcus Aurelius mentions would be a good summary of what stoicism is all about -so why reading a whole year full of stoics if you just need those points? :). 

I guess they would serve to do a good poster on stoicism to hang on your wall to remind yourself when you’ve acted selfishly or have put your energy and hopes in something outside your control.

Four Habits Of The Stoic Mind

It also helps me remember that nobody can really act “stoically” the whole time. We’re all humans and sometimes it’s easy to be dragged by our emotions. So I think it’s worth commenting those four points, more than 10 months into the daily stoic.

Accept only what it’s true

I really love this first point, and I think I probably take it to the extreme -is that even stoic?- sometimes. Since I was a child, I’ve been an atheist. You could say I’m a fanatic rationalist.

I don’t believe in anything that can’t be explained rationally or by science. From homeopathy to anti-vaccine bullshit, from UFOs to Reiki or all of these new-agey healing techniques blooming lately.

Of course, your beliefs and values may be completely different, and that’s ok. I don’t intend to offend you putting stuff you consider legit at the same level of other stuff you may find laughable. It’s just my point of view.

But I think your universe is easier to understand and more logical when you remove all that stuff. Chance, nature, and probabilities exist, and even though we have Ockham’s razor, we still tend to eagerly look for a “meaning” everywhere.

Work for the common good

You know, this one may pose some trouble depending on your definition of “selfish“. Does that mean that instead of building a business I should donate all my stuff and go to Africa and devote my life to helping others?

Well, while that’s ok, I don’t think you need to take such extreme measures. 🙂 Americans have a fascinating way of looking at business from an ethical point of view. In their view, when you are offering a good service to a customer, you are actually doing a good thing for themotherwise they will go for a different provider that’s obviously not as good or thoughtful as you are, and will serve them worse.

That view is completely the opposite of the one you are used to if you have grown up in a Catholic environment (like in my case). Our society tells us that yearning wealth is selfish and evil.

Overall, I think being a good person and working for the common good is not at odds with working on your business and looking for success and wealth.

Match your needs and wants with what it’s in your control

That’s definitely a good point. No matter how much money you have, how many belongings you own. If you always want more, you will always be unhappy.

I read a very interesting article lately on our misconceptions about millionaires. Contrary to popular belief, most of them don’t drive luxury cars and live in big mansions. Obviously, there’s a large percentage of them who do.

But most of the times, the people that like to brag of their brand new ultra-expensive car, or their humongous house with more bathrooms tha bedrooms are people who live beyond their means.

Since I became an entrepreneur and digital nomad, decluttering my life, I have found that I was part of those people who needed to consume things to have this false sense of wealth. I now live with less than one-fifth of what I used to… And happily so.

Embrace what nature has in store for us

Yes, that’s the more difficult point of all. Still working on it, though. Lately, I’ve been going through a lot of stuff. My father mentioned once that once you embrace a particular philosophy, that philosophy tests you.

While I can’t believe that (see point 1 above ), I seriously think I should have chosen another alternative to stoicism, such as hedonism, ha!

Jokes aside, I think this last point is the most difficult one, but the one that can bring you peace of mind. Acceptance. We have been talking about it for a whole year now. Am I getting there? I hope so.


Today’s Daily Stoic, “Four Habits Of The Stoic Mind”, discusses four points that may well be used as an enumerated summary of stoicism. Accepting only what’s true, working for the common good, matching our needs with what’s in our control, and embracing what nature has for us.

So simply apply those points to your life and… bum! Instant stoic! Well, not really, but all it takes is practice.