Stoic Philosophical Think-Exercises

Practice one of the ancient techniques of the Stoic philosophers.

Only you can read your own personal, private writing as you practice these exercises.
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Epictetus' Hercules' Training
Turn adversity into your coach

In his "Discourses", Epictetus writes, "What would become of Hercules if there had been no lion, hydra, stag or boar, and no savage criminals to rid the world of? What would he have done in the abs...

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Marcus Aurelius' Obstacle Converter
When you feel stuck

You're face-to-face with an obstacle. This exercise helps you "convert" that obstacle into "the way." As Marcus Aurelius writes in Book V of his Meditations, "Our actions may be impeded . . . but t...

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Epictetus' Hercules' Training
Turn adversity into your coach

In his "Discourses", Epictetus writes, "What would become of Hercules if there had been no lion, hydra, stag or boar, and no savage criminals to rid the world of? What would he have done in the abs...

Exercise Tag
Seneca's Transformation of Pain Into Information
Mutate your pain into knowledge

Pain is information for us to help us learn where we can grow. In his essay "On Providence", Seneca writes, "You have asked me, Lucilus, why, if a Providence rules the world, it still happens that ...

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Marcus Aurelius Meets Difficult People
Great for a bad boss

One of Marcus Aurelius' most common exercise themes is the question of how to work with aggressive or difficult people. His meditations are filled with sentences like, "If he did wrong, the harm is...

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Seneca's Cure for Anger
Free yourself from your rage

"Seneca's Anger Explorer" is an exercise to explore our anger, and this exercise, "Seneca's Cure for Anger", is aimed at healing it. This exercise also includes a question from Marcus Aurelius as h...

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Marcus Aurelius' Hero's Indexing
When you're feeling down

Marcus Aurelius begins his Meditations with the words, "From my grandfather Verus: decency and mild temper..." (I, i). In this, the first and longest passage, Marcus Aurelius creates a list or "ind...

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Seneca's Win Moments & Hero Consideration Exercise
Awaken your hero in your life

This exercise challenges you to see how both your hero and you yourself have risen to face challenging experiences in the past. Seneca writes, "Call to mind things which you have done that have bee...

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Marcus Aurelius' Failure
Just failed? Learn from it

All the time, we fail to practice the four Stoic virtues. What does that mean? What should we do next? Marcus Aurelius writes in Meditations V.9: "Do not give up in disgust or impatience if you do ...

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The Stoic Doctor: Life Problem Diagnosis & Treatment
Bring a philosopher-healer in

The oldest metaphor in the history of philosophy is the philosopher as a doctor for the mind and philosophy as a medicine for the soul. Martha Nussbaum, the great American scholar of the ancient sc...

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Seneca's Explore Your Anger
Why am I angry?

Seneca considers anger the most dangerous passion and the one that is most important to learn, through philosophical practice, to ameliorate. He dedicates his play "Medea" to an exploration of a my...

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Marcus Aurelius's Freedom to Virtue
Great for when you feel stymied

In Book IV of his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius writes as an exercise for himself, "Does what's happened keep you from acting with justice, generosity, self-control, sanity, prudence, honesty, humil...

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Amor Fati - The Love of Fate
When you hate life

The French historian of philosophy Pierre Hadot describes the Stoic understanding of external fortune using Nietzsche's phrase "Amor Fati" - or "the love of fate." The Stoics ask the question, "wha...

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Epictetus’ Philosopher's Review
Great for bedtime

Epictetus's three questions are a great exercise to perform at the close of a day, or as a daily evening exercise. But this exercise can also be helpful at any time of day to invite a Stoic philoso...

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Pyrrho & The Skeptics "Scissors"
When you're judging yourself

The Stoic philosophers borrowed happily from the exercises practiced by other schools of philosophy in the ancient world. One such school was the Skeptics, founded by Pyrrho and Sextus Empiricus. T...

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Seneca's Nightly Review
Great for bedtime

In his essay "On Anger", Seneca offers a description of a nightly exercise from the Skeptic philosopher Sextius. He writes, "That is what Sextius used to do: at the close of the day, when he retire...

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Marcus Aurelius' Invitation to Perspective
When a trouble looms big

One of Marcus Aurelius' most frequent exercise-practices is a reflection on the puniness of mortal indignations, vexations and frustrations in the light of the insane scope of the cosmos and infini...

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Marcus Aurelius' Sadness Converter
Great for a boost of positivity

Marcus Aurelius writes, "On the occasion of everything that causes you sadness, remember to use this 'dogma': not only is this not a misfortune, but it is a piece of good fortune for you to bear up...

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Epictetus' Question: Ta eph’hemin, ta ouk eph’hemin
Great for when you're feeling frustrated

At the end of his work the Enchridion, Epictetus asks the question, "What is up to us, what is not up to us?" In Greek, "Ta eph’hemin, ta ouk eph’hemin". Apply this simple question to the situation...

Create and edit your own custom exercises here.

Here, both your custom exercise itself (your questions, etc.) and your personal writing as you practice the exercise, are private. Only you can read either of them.
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