A Guide to Stoicism for Creatives, Entrepreneurs, and Freelancers

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  1. How can we become better human beings in our everyday life?
  2. How can we manage our mood effectively and not allow emotion to cloud our judgement, decisions, and thinking?
  3. How can we digest failure, turn it into good, and adapt when necessary?

Level Down to the Essentials

There’s buzz around 10x-ing your life. The paradox, however, is that doing so requires you to do less — less of the nonessential. The through-line among peak performers is repeated bouts of focus over a long period of time. I believe being focused is a form of tranquility, popularly known as “flow,” which also happens to be the nectar of deep work. Marcus Aurelius advocated leveling down to achieve tranquility:

Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

That headline runs on the border of being an eye-rolling platitude.

In all things we should try to make ourselves be as grateful as possible. —A letter from Seneca to his friend Lucilius

A gratitude exercise doesn’t need to be grandiose. Being thankful that you have internet connection to read this article is a good place to start.

Give Your Mind Regular Breaks

Back in 2010, I started a business built on naive enthusiasm. It was all passion and no skill.

The mind must be given relaxation — it will rise improved and sharper after a good break. —Seneca, “On Tranquility of Mind

This flies in the face of conventional Western wisdom that more is better.

Brace Yourself for Uncertainty

In his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius wrote, “The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing, because an artful life requires being prepared to meet and withstand sudden and unexpected attacks.”

Recognize That Life Goes On After Failure

I spent five years of my life on that one failed business, and I had nothing to show for it. Or so I thought.

Before You Say Yes, Survey the Decision

When you get enough practice under your belt as a creative professional, it’s likely that you will start getting more opportunities than you can handle.

Learn and Apply Your Knowledge

Applied knowledge is better than learning the textbook. Or, put another way, don’t settle for having only read the textbook.

Review Your Day (And My Suggested Review System)

In a letter to his older brother Novatus, Seneca describes a method he used to measure himself objectively. At the end of each day, he’d ask himself questions like: How am I better today? What did I do with my time? What were my outcomes?

The Solution Lies Within

If you really want to escape the things that harass you, what you’re needing is not to be in a different place but to be a different person. —Seneca

So many times, we want to run away, with hopes that the adversity will somehow disappear. I can report to you that this method is weak. It doesn’t work. And the Stoics knew that thousands of years ago.

The Importance of a Few Good Friends

We live in a time of scaled human connection — think Facebook, Twitter, even Medium. But how deep are these connections?

Better Humans

Better Humans is a collection of the world's most trustworthy writing on human potential and self improvement by coaches, academics, and aggressive self-experimenters. Articles are based on deep personal experience, science, and research. No fluff, book reports, or listicles.

Brian McFadden

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Made in 85. I write about self-discovery & personal effectiveness using both sides of my brain. My work: https://linktr.ee/itsbrianmcfadden

Better Humans

Better Humans is a collection of the world's most trustworthy writing on human potential and self improvement by coaches, academics, and aggressive self-experimenters. Articles are based on deep personal experience, science, and research. No fluff, book reports, or listicles.