A preamble to Stoic Sundays
It’s been almost two weeks since I first got my hands on “The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman. The authors suggest that we only read one page a day and reflect on that day’s quotes. It was an interesting way to digest what the book had to offer, and so I did just that. I’ve since incorporated this into my daily morning routine, and always look forward to reading what’s on the next page.
Every Sunday, I summarize my notes from the last 7 days to identify key learning points to practice. I also attempt to make connections with the ideas that I’ve come across from other books during this time. This was how the “Stoic Sundays” collection was born.
Through “Stoic Sundays”, I hope to share my key takeaways with the broader community of readers out there. I also hope to invite interaction and discussion as everyone may have different interpretations of the same underlying messages. Please note that while our opinions may differ, it doesn’t make them any more right or wrong. All that matters is that we each gain new perspectives through sharing.
With that, I hope you’ll enjoy the first iteration of “Stoic Sundays”.
May 17th – The Stoic is a work in progress
Self-improvement is always meant to be a journey, not a destination. One can work to arrive at an ideal state, but the focus should never be on the end state. To this point, Matthew McConaughey’s acceptance speech at the 86th Oscars in 2014 comes to mind.
As the book says, “It’s important to for us to remember in our own journey to self-improvement: one never arrives”.
18th May – How you do anything is how you do everything
As James Clear writes in Atomic Habits, “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become”. In other words, we reinforce our identity through the way we show up for ourselves for anything we do. Being aware of this is thus critical for self-improvement. Before we decide to do a half-assed job at anything again, we should ask ourselves, “Is this the type of person I want to be?”
19th May – Learn, practice, train
Learning isn’t just about knowing the concepts; it’s also about execution and practice. Self-improvement is an ever-iterating process, and we should learn just enough to self-correct at any time. I recently wrote about how we can learn seemingly anything and be reasonably good in 20 hours here. It features a fantastic sharing by Josh Kaufman about how we can optimize our learning process, so do check it out!
20th May – Quality over quantity
In our pursuit of knowledge, we often face the dilemma – do we go wide or go deep? My take is that we can go for both, but we should prioritize depth and build breadth over time. We should aim to be intentional in what we learn and practice, for a deep understanding builds confidence and conviction. Besides, what’s the point of having full bookshelves but a shallow mind?
21st May – What kind of boxer are you?
The marathon of personal development is rife with challenges, and challenges are almost always uncomfortable. However, as Bill Eckstrom explains, “growth only occurs in the state of discomfort”. Here’s what he said at a Ted Talk at the University of Nevada in 2017.
22nd May – Today is the day
There are times where I ask myself, “what should I do now?”. Almost always, the voice of my subconscious replies softly at the back of my head. However, we don’t always listen to that voice and do exactly that, do we? I’m guilty of this and often end up regretting my decision later.
One helpful piece of advice I got to deal with moments like these came from The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. In the book, the authors introduce readers to “the focusing question”, which reads:
What’s the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
By answering the focusing question, it compels us to focus on that one most important thing that we can do to bring us closer to our goals. The best part is that it reflects what we can do now; not yesterday, not tomorrow, but right now.
23rd May – Show me how to live
There’s no need to envy others who have accomplished so much within a seemingly little amount of time. If you’ve ever bothered asking, you’ll find out that they savoured every minute of the present. They are always looking to dedicate time and effort to work on their craft, purposefully and intentionally bringing themselves closer to their goals. Focus on what we can do in the present; the next thing we know, we’ll have come a long way!