Oct. 14, 2020

Lives of the Stoics and their Modern Lessons with Ryan Holiday

Lives of the Stoics and their Modern Lessons with Ryan Holiday

Our guest is Ryan Holiday. He’s the author of “Lives of the Stoics” and many other books on stoicism.

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Ryan Holiday is a writer and media strategist. When he was 19 years old, he dropped out of college to apprentice under Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power. He had a successful marketing career at American Apparel and went on to found a creative agency called Brass Check, which has advised clients like Google, and many prominent bestselling authors, including Neil Strauss, and Tim Ferriss

Holiday is the author of several of our favorite books, including The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego Is the Enemy, The Daily Stoic, and Stillness is the Key which have sold millions of copies in dozens of languages.

In this episode, we talk with Holiday about his newest book. In Lives of the Stoics, Holiday and co-author Stephen Hanselman present the fascinating lives of the men and women who worked to live by the timeless Stoic virtues of courage, justice, temperance, and wisdom. The fascinating mini-biographies illustrate powerful, centuries-old lessons that still serve as beacons to a more principled life. 

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 Ryan Holiday: [00:00:00] It's really important that, um, one of the lessons we take out of this, it's just an understanding of w. How little of life is in our control and what, but what we do control is the moment in front of us and how we decide to spend that moment. 

 Jeremy: [00:00:15] This is the fit mess with Zach and Jeremy. I'm going to start this episode with a bit of a confession.

 I get excited about all of the people that we talked to on the show, because there are a ton of. That's brilliant, inspiring, motivating people that we talk to, but I'm fanboying out a little bit about talking to Ryan holiday. Uh, he has a brand new book it's called lives of the Stoics, and I've been reading Ryan's work for a long time.

 There are a number of books in the sort of self-help genre that, uh, that I've read over the years, but his are the ones that even the, just the titles I carry with me in my head. As I'm face, whatever life throws at me and his work has really meant a lot to me. So having him on our show this week means the world to me.

 Like if, if our show ended after this one, I talked to one of the people that has made the biggest impact on my life. And I consider it a success, 

 Zach: [00:01:14] but it's not ending after 

 Jeremy: [00:01:16] this. It's not that we have, we have a lot of work to do still. However, I'm very excited that we get to talk to Ryan holiday. We will share that interview with you in just a little bit.

 Uh, but first this is the fitmess. My name is Jeremy and his name is Zach. 

 Zach: [00:01:27] What's up everyone. 

 Jeremy: [00:01:28] And I want to start with his books. There's one that has been by my bedside for, I don't even know how long. And I read it every single day and it is the daily stoic. And it is just essentially brief quotes too, to read at some point in your day.

 I like to read it, uh, both at night and in the morning to sort of evaluate how my day fit into, uh, the life I'm trying to live and how the day that I'm about to experience is going to fit into the life that I'm about to live. I love reading this book because it is easy to just read a page. Maybe two, if you're ambitious.

 But it is just full of wisdom and lessons that you can use to guide you on the path. Again, of being the kind of person you want to, you want to be. 

 Zach: [00:02:10] Yeah. That's, that's one of my favorites too. And have you read today's page yet? 

 Jeremy: [00:02:15] Nope, not yet. 

 Zach: [00:02:16] I'll read it to you cause I just read it to Natalie 

 Jeremy: [00:02:19] cause I can't read so that'll, that'll be helpful.

 Zach: [00:02:21] So it's marcus aurelius. And I think on another show that we did, I quoted him and then I said, I think he is a stoic. And you were like, yeah, I think.

 Jeremy: [00:02:34] But ironically, like, I didn't know who Marcus a release was until I saw gladiator. And then I was like, Oh wait, is that a real dude? Oh God, there's, there's a whole rabbit hole to go down here.

 alright, so read, read to me. 


 Zach: [00:02:47] reverence justice, leave the past behind, let the grand design take care of the future. Instead only rightly guide the present too reverence and justice reverence. So that you'll love what you've been allotted for. Nature brought you both to each other justice, so that you'll speak the truth freely and without evasion.

 And so that you'll act only as the law and value of things require. 

 Jeremy: [00:03:12] Right on 

 Zach: [00:03:13] the surface. It's like, well, here's two things you can follow. But then in the explanation for it, if anyone would take two words to heart and take pains to govern and watch over themselves by them, they will live an impeccable and immensely tranquil life.

 The two words are persist and resist. That's great advice, but what principles should determine what we persist in and what we ought to resist Marcus supplies, the answer reverence injustice. In other words for virtue, 

 Jeremy: [00:03:42] right? Yeah. 

 And it's so interesting. We were just talking about, um, before we started recording that, that so much of what the Stoics intentionally or unintentionally were trying to teach us was to decide who you are, right.

 Decide what kind of a life you want to live and whatever decisions, whatever complications that life throws at you, you view them through that prism. To then decide how to respond to that thing. And, you know, I know for me, that's something I know for so many people, this isn't just me, almost every conversation I've had lately has been with people who, because life is nothing like it was a year ago is going, I made a bunch of decisions in my life leading me to that point to live that way that doesn't fit this anymore.

 And so I don't, I don't know anyone who hasn't said, I'm thinking of moving. I'm thinking of changing my job. I'm thinking of putting my kid in a different school program. Like everyone is reevaluating everything, and we're doing the same thing. We're, we're looking at moving to a couple of different places and it is the hardest struggle because almost every decision has a layer of good with bad and trying to figure out what's the best thing to do here has to come from.

 A central set of principles. And how, how is this decision going to fit into that? And if it doesn't then the answer's no, but that's such a hard thing to figure out while you're still sort of formulating who the person is that you want to be. 

 Zach: [00:05:18] Right. And sometimes you have to take it back down to, um, there's an exercise I've done a couple of times where, you know, it's just a sheet of values.

 Um, And you just go through and you circle the ones, you like, the ones, you, the ones you are, the ones you want to be, the ones that are important to you and you kind of, you build a list of who you want to be based on what you've circled. Right. And then you can translate your life into those, those values.

 Jeremy: [00:05:47] Yeah. And it's such an interesting time to be looking at lessons that are hundreds and thousands of years old, and yet. Address problems. We're still trying to figure out as people. Yeah, 

 Zach: [00:06:01] they're, they're super applicable to me today. Uh, just as applicable to me today as they were 2000 years ago, like part of me always thought that, you know, living 2000 years ago, life would be simpler.

 Life would be easier. Right? You. It's really about survival. Right? You get up, you do the thing that, that will get you, the food that you need to eat, and then you do it all over again. Right. But it's so far from the truth. I mean, 

 Jeremy: [00:06:30] like we 

 Zach: [00:06:30] wouldn't have all these, all of these words of wisdoms, if the things that are going through our head, weren't going through their head as well.

 Jeremy: [00:06:37] Yeah. It's crazy. It's crazy that we haven't. Like, there are so many things here that are basics. 

 Zach: [00:06:44] Oh, what was 

 Marcus earlier? He was talking about just be a good man and waste. No more time arguing about what a good man should be, just be one.  

 Jeremy: [00:06:53] let's let's look at that. I, this is not a political show. We're not taking sides politically, but with either presidential candidate that's that's on, on the ballot right now.

 Supporters of both sides are going to look at the opponent and say, not a good man. Look at the problems, look at the bad. Look at the history, look at the way they behave things. They say whatever both sides are going to find the horrible and whoever the opponent is. And they're going to hang on to it for dear life rather than.

 Looking inside and going, who do I want to be as a person? Like we, we attach so much to our leaders in this country that we sort of get lost in who we should be. And I think ultimately that is sort of a, the root of so many of the problems that we're having as, as a culture and getting along is that we're, we're so worried about what our team thinks and, and pleasing the side that we've chosen and getting along with them rather than going.

 Oh, wait, this, this makes me kind of a bad person to, to agree with this, whatever it is, this is not, you know, I could pick a side all day, but that's not what I'm here to do. 

 Zach: [00:08:05] Well, that brings up another one. Right? Um, marcus aurelius, his earliest also says it never ceases to amaze me. We all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinions than our own.

 Jeremy: [00:08:16] That's one that every time I stumble across it, uh, like I judge myself, my success, my happiness against things that other people have all the time. 

 Zach: [00:08:26] And it's such bullshit. It's 

 Jeremy: [00:08:27] total bullshit. 

 Zach: [00:08:28] It's all inside. 

 Jeremy: [00:08:30] Yeah. I mean, there are people that I compare myself to that. On the surface have much more than I do, but then they will turn around and say to me that they envy something about the way I live my life or a success that I've had or whatever.

 And I just think how, like, how that doesn't, that doesn't even register. Like, I look at you and go, that's how I should be living. Like I'm failing because I'm not doing what you're doing and they're doing the same thing to me. And I'm just like, I'm baffled by that. 

 Zach: [00:08:59] That takes it like full circle back to gratitude.

 Right. Being grateful for what you have. Just the little things, right? There's another quote that I'm going to totally butcher it at this point in time, but it's little as needed to make a happy life. It is all within yourself in your way of thinking, you don't have to compare yourself to other people.

 You simply don't have to. It's a choice that you're making. 

 Jeremy: [00:09:25] And, and that dovetails perfectly into this one that I love. And I try so hard to remember, like, I'm not one of those guys that can pull a movie quote out of every movie I've ever seen. Like, it's so hard for me to retain them, but when with some star Wars and even then I've, I have moments, but I love this one.

 Choose not to be harmed. And you won't feel harmed, don't feel harmed and you haven't been, it's all about just accepting. Your responsibility for the way you react to whatever the situation is. No one has the power to hurt you. No one has the power to make you feel anything you choose. And that's, I mean, I'm saying that out loud and that's still hard for me to own because I lose, I lost control today.

 Not, not, I actually. I'm pretty proud of myself because I kept it cool. But like, I, I was burning out. Like I leave my house like once a week. I hardly ever go anywhere today. We ran like every errand we've needed to run for like a month and we're in the car and the kids are screaming. They're singing, they're babbling.

 They're making sounds, doing things, rainstorm driving on the freeway, traffic, like I'm just bombarded with what used to be daily life. And it was now like all of a sudden, Oh right. This is how society works outside my front door and was just wildly overwhelmed. And I CA I was feeling it building. And I was like, I kept trying, I kept coming back to the conversation that we had with Ryan that we'll get to in just a minute.

 And, and all of these, like, stoic things that I've been reading recently because of this interview. And it helped me just turn to them and go guys, I'm getting really overwhelmed by all of the sounds. You're making all of the crosstalk between you and everybody, the noise I'm trying to drive in the rain.

 This is, this is a lot for me. I need you to dial it down. This is too much. And they're like, Oh, okay, sorry. And they totally reacted appropriately. And they still talked and were normal, but it was like they weren't on sugar overload wild. And it was just, it was incredible too. To have these, these lessons so fresh in my mind to be able to pull from them and go, what's the kind of person I want to be here.

 Do I want to be the one that's like, will you guys just shut the fuck up or do I want to be the guy that says, Hey, here's what I'm feeling. And I need you to help me and do your part to help me get through this. And just having that presence of mine got me through what, you know, a few months ago would have been a much different experience.

 Zach: [00:11:53] It's amazing 

 how other people react to how you're feeling if you can, if you can 

 phrase it appropriately. Yeah. 

 When I give feedback to people at work, um, I like giving positive feedback and negative feedback, but when I give any kind of feedback at work, I follow a formula. And that formula is when you do X, I feel Y instead of just saying something like, Hey, you were late for the meeting.

 Hey, you, you didn't do the report. You were, you said you were going to do right. If you throw in, you did that thing. And it made me feel X, like it made me feel like I can't count on you. It made me feel like I need to look somewhere else to get this job done. Right. It really hits home with people. So, 

 Jeremy: [00:12:35] and that's so true.

 There are so many things in my work life that I go, what's the point of this is dumb and I will give it that energy. But if, if it's somehow letting someone else down in, in that way and make it articulate. I need you to care about this, even though it seems mundane because X suddenly it's not this pointless thing that I have to do every day.

 And even, you know, even talking to my kids the other night, they were, they were at each other and they kept, I kept asking them what's wrong. And they would, they would recite the story of what just happened. Oh, well, she did this and she threw this at me and she hit me. I was like, okay. But I don't care about all that.

 How did it feel? And they got down to, I felt like. She didn't appreciate what I did for her. I felt like I wasn't being seen or I wasn't being heard. Um, and when they, I could see when they heard how their actions were making the other feel. There was a switch that flipped in that, Oh. And my oldest daughter even said, you're pretty good at this feeling stuff, dad.

 And I was like, Holy shit. Maybe I am doing okay at this. This is all right. This is all right. And so again, and the positive reinforcement I got from that just made me go. Keep at this, keep working on this, showing her that at my age, I'm getting my feelings under control.  is going to go so far and helping her figure out how to do it for herself.

 And she's getting, you know, guidance at a much younger age than I am on my own, you know, in my forties trying to figure that 

 Zach: [00:14:03] right, we have children and some of this stuff is sometimes the best way to learn something is to teach someone else, even if you're not an expert in it. Right. By teaching my daughter, some of these ways to deal with her feelings and her anxiety, it's actually reinforcing it in me and making me think about it more.

 So I put more into practice it's it's. Other than the tax breaks, children do have another benefit. 

 Jeremy: [00:14:33] Well, you know, on that note talking about, um, you know, the, the teacher, student relationship, we have a fascinating conversation with Ryan holiday that we want to share with you now. Uh, and, and one of the things we get into with him is that, that very question has he learned more, uh, in, in, in sort of teaching this than he has as a student and his perspective on this is interesting.

 And he'll, he'll talk about how he, you know, really approaches this as a student and is sort of sharing with the world. What he's learning as he goes and, and, you know, we'll, we'll let him explain that a little bit more. Uh, but his, his new book is fantastic. It's fascinating. It is full of amazing historical stories of some of the original Stoics that he references so often.

 And I really, you know, maybe it's just, cause I just got done watching Cobra Kai recently, but I felt very connected to karate kid as I was reading because I essentially felt like, Oh, I'm reading a history book, but in that history, Is the lessons that I should be applying to my life. He doesn't come straight out and translate it for you.

 He, he says, here's what happened to these people, tells their story and moves on. And so it was very much, you know, paint the fence, you know, learn to block it. It's a fascinating book. I hope you'll read it. We're going to give away a few copies. We'll tell you after the interview, how to, how to get a copy.

 And, um, so, but to start the interview, I just, I asked him about that, that karate kid analogy is, is that basically what he was going for in writing this book? Lives of the stoics.

 Ryan Holiday: [00:16:01] That's an interesting analogy. I guess when I, when I write I'm, I'm obviously trying to impart information, but to me, unless that information is applicable in one's actual life, I don't really see the point. So I I'm trying to look at the lives of the Stoics, but more directly. How we can learn lessons from their lives to apply to our own lives.

 Zach: [00:16:27] I absolutely love the real person context around this book. It really helps me in all the struggles that I have knowing that these people were real people and had struggles and they weren't just quotes that I read all the time. Sure. 

 Jeremy: [00:16:39] Um, yeah. 

 Zach: [00:16:40] But there's so many scenarios that are better in the book that mirror, what we're kind of seeing today, um, in regards to political and social issues.

 So, you know, my question is what, what can we learn from them? Centuries old stories that can guide us through the, you know, the, the political division and the new social norms that we're all facing today. 

 Ryan Holiday: [00:16:59] So not just political and social issues, but I mean, marcus aurelius was living during the Antonin plague.

 And so the Stoics, you know, it can feel like the ancient world was very, very distant, but in fact had all of the problems we have today, plus other problems. Right. So I think what we can, we can learn from, from them is sort of how, what did, what did they. What do they bring to these situations for the Stoics?

 The four virtues are courage, justice self-discipline and wisdom. And so whether they're dealing with a plague, whether they're dealing with a social unrest, whether they're dealing with that temptation of luxury and success, the stoics we're trying to always apply those virtues. You know, Marcus really is right.

 Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn't matter. You know, I think you're seeing a lot of people that they struggle with. Well, here's the party that I identify with and that's sort of in conflict with what I believe inside and struggle to sort of reconcile those things. Or they say, look like I have to make a living.

 I, I have to do my job, but now my job is in conflict with, you know, The lessons that I teach my kids, what do I do? And I think what the Stoics would say is, look, you got to do what's right. Sort of let the consequences come what may and, and that you've got to believe that you're going to be capable of handling those consequences and, and, and surviving them, 

 Jeremy: [00:18:23] surviving and plague.

 And we're all trying to do that right now with our own, uh, more than 200,000 dead Americans. Um, you, you make the point that yeah, that history sort of goes on with, or without us we've, you know, 200,000 people are not going on with this. Where, where do we, I guess what lessons can we pull from them from, from the Stoics that that can help us sort of find calm and acceptance that, that we might not make it through this as individuals.

 Ryan Holiday: [00:18:49] The, the idea of momentum more is sort of really profound, stoic practice. You know, I think that the reality of the pandemic has brought death closer to a lot of people, both literally, but also it's forced us to wrestle with our mortality a little bit, sort of more than we ordinarily would be. I think what the Stoics want you to realize.

 It's like, Hey. Sure you could, you, you could die in this pandemic and that's why you gotta be careful. And it's why you want to make sure you're on top of things. And you know, you're not taking people for granted, but you could also get hit by a bus tomorrow. Right? You could also find out you have cancer tomorrow and when they didn't want.

 Was for you to only then begin to start to value your time. You know what I mean? Or value your people or value the things that you have been lucky enough they haven't experienced. So it's really important that, um, one of the lessons we take out of this is just an understanding of w. How little of life is in our control and what, but what we do control as the moment in front of us and how we decide to spend that 


 Jeremy: [00:19:54] I, if I can pick up on that for just a minute. Cause one of the things that I keep hearing is I ask more about that as is everyone says, you know, turn to gratitude, be grateful for what you have. And, and I keep doing that, but then every time I do, I feel like one of the things I'm grateful for has it has now been stripped away.

 It just feels like it's all sort of the sand that, that is a, an excellent lesson in letting go. Is, is that sort of what we should take from this? 

 Ryan Holiday: [00:20:16] Yeah. I mean, there's, there's a humility in that, uh, that sort of seeing that, that you don't really. Uh, have a firm grasp on any of these things. Epictetus talks about reminding yourself that, uh, you know, you don't want even possess your possessions, your loved ones.

 You don't own that, that all of these things, we have a very tenuous grasp on, and they're sort of ours in trust, whereas a loan and you, you have to enjoy them and appreciate them. It's not just about sitting around and. Being like thinking gratitude, but it's are your actions in line with, uh, with that group?

 So I think a lot of people, for instance, went into this pandemic going, Oh, I can afford to burn two weeks or two months, and then life will go back to normal. As opposed to thinking this is the new normal. I'm going to live as much as I can within that. And then when things change, I'm going to live as much as I can within that.

 So it's sort of an adaptability as opposed to, well, here's how I like them to be. And I'm just going to insist on them being that way all the time. 

 Zach: [00:21:21] Yeah. It, it took me a couple of months to realize that I needed to accept what was going on and just. Make make the most of it. Once I did that, things got so much easier, you know, on that note, like, um, you know, I understand that you live on a farm and you're not traveling as much.

 You're probably just as isolated as we are, but you know, how are you making this alive time for yourself? 

 Ryan Holiday: [00:21:42] Well, one of the great things about being a writer is you sort of can do it anywhere. And in fact, Uh, the pandemic life is a little bit closer to how life should be all the time. Anyway. So in some ways this is sort of kept me honest.

 Um, but, but what I'm really trying to like what I've really been trying to see this as it's sort of like the greatest lifestyle experiment in human history, you know, it's the greatest collective lifestyle experiment that we've ever conceived of and everyone is being forced to do things differently and forced to sort of reimagine how they do the things that they have to keep doing.

 And so, you know, it's, it's, it's given me a chance to question different parts of my routine question, how I, you know, spend my days question sort of what I value and not value. And then I don't know about you guys, but where in Texas has kind of been this like, Oh, we're starting to open back up and then we're closing again.

 And then we're opening back. Yeah. There's been a lot of sort of false alarms. And what I've noticed is although it's, I've been really good. When I have no choice, the second other people start asking for stuff, or you start to hear that people, you know, are changing their behaviors. It becomes harder to sort of insist on what you want and then also what you know, to be safe for smart.

 So, you know, I'm noticing just a lot, I'm just noticing how, how much peer pressure and just the sort of having one eye on what other people are doing, influences what we think, uh, is, uh, is normal or right. And, and so I think. One of the things I want to emerge from this with is a much stronger sense of like what I want, how I want things to be and my ability to enforce those boundaries.

 Jeremy: [00:23:23] You know, it's funny, you mentioned that, I think that answers this question that I was hoping to ask you. And it's, I, you know, I follow a people in this genre, this sort of self-help genre, and there are people on one end saying the world health organization and the CDC are nuts and they're out to scam you and profit, blah, blah, blah.

 And then there's other people. And I've heard you say, listen to them, they're scientists. They know what they're talking about. And, you know, as someone who's, who has surprised myself with the growth and things, I've sort of discovered on this journey. I'm torn to both sides. I mean, the logical rational person in me says, listen to the scientists, duh, that's obvious.

 But then when, when these people, I respect are saying things that contradict that I really wrestle with, what do I really know? And how do I, how do I reconcile the two 

 Ryan Holiday: [00:24:09] it's it's it's it's been a helpful part of this as well in that you're sort of you're, you're also getting a nice glimpse into, uh, The people you like admire follow, which ones of them are also just complete pieces of shit, you know?

 Yeah. It's been, yeah. Interesting for me, like people that I'm friends with, people that I know sort of behaving in totally self-absorbed ways, totally hypocritical ways, uh, you know, falling prey to nonsense or, you know, conspiracy theories or. Or just at best sort of magical thinking. I I've even had to notice, wrestle with that with my own audience.

 Right. Even before, uh, I came on, I was checking something on Instagram and it was like, Posted something very non-controversial and there's just a whole flood of just like really bad stuff from people. And you're just, Oh, okay. Like, this is why you can't do things for other people's approval or because you, you like, this is why that can't matter to you.

 You have to do and say what you think is right. And then tune out that other stuff. And it goes those, I think it goes to sort of the behavior on the pandemic. It's like the, the. Reasonable common sense sort of prescriptions for how to survive, this, how to keep yourself safe, how not to spread the virus are very straightforward.

 There's a very good amount of data behind it. And they're, they're sort of very minimal as far as what they actually impose on you. And then, so you, you're sort of going along in that, but you realize it's actually. The people are just sort of quietly doing the right thing. You're not hearing from what you're hearing from are the crazy people or the shameless people or the totally clueless people.

 And so that can be really, uh, misleading and disorienting because it's really hard to just go like, Okay. Wait, why do I believe? What do I believe? What I believe? Why is this important to me? Why am I doing this? And then you have to stick with it, even though, you know, you might get laughed at her. I mean, one of the things I've really taken out of the pandemic has been good for me to go back to this point about boundaries is like, my instincts have been really good.

 And every time I've stuck with those instincts, I've tended to be proven. Right. And so a good thing I'm taking out of this as like, Oh, when I have, when I feel this way in the future, I just need to listen to that voice. I can't let other people persuade me off of it because they don't really 


 Jeremy: [00:26:35] on that line and sort of veering away from, from, uh COVID as someone who has spent a lot of time writing about Stoics.

 And there, there weren't a lot of people doing this. If you haven't written your first book and eight people bought it sure. Would that have mattered to you? Would you have kept going as hard as you have. 

 Ryan Holiday: [00:26:51] I think so. I mean, look, when I, when I first even took that book to a publisher, you know, they were like, and I was actually just hearing from my poster.

 They were like, we were only humoring you, like, we thought it would fail. And then you would go back to writing the other kinds of books that you are known for writing. And so, you know, I feel like obviously I persevered through that, but although the obstacle is the way, which is my first book about stoicism has since sold very well and, and, and continues to sell well.

 When it came out, it wasn't that it was a failure, but like it took five years for it to hit the bestseller list. So there, I wouldn't say there was like a period in the wilderness, but there was a period where the evidence was not emphatically in. And one of the ways that I got through that was I was just busy continuing to do the work.

 And, and you, you do want to get to a place ideally where. The results outside of your control are not determining whether something is good to you or not, 

 but, Oh, 

 Jeremy: [00:27:50] I asked some folks sort of online. If they had a chance to ask you something, what were they asking? Yeah. This one stood out to me is, uh, D have you learned more as a teacher than you have as a student in this field?

 Ryan Holiday: [00:28:00] Yeah, absolutely. I hope it comes across that I'm not writing about stoicism from the position. Uh, of a stoic, but I'm writing about stoicism from the perspective of a student of stoicism. So, uh, and, and actually Seneca talks about this idea that you learn as you teach I'm writing about and exploring the ideas in stoicism.

 That's why I'm not a character in the books, but then I'm looking at him historic figures who have sort of proven the ideas or, or seem to illustrate the idea. So it's as much an exploration for me as for the reader. And I. Ultimately, I do think that's kind of why they resonate, um, because, uh, it there's at least one test case for which these ideas are relevant and not test cases me.

 Jeremy: [00:28:46] Sure, sure. Uh, and, and as a student of it and a father of young kids, how has it shaped you as a father? 

 Ryan Holiday: [00:28:54] Well, it's a constant challenge. I mean, just in a person is a constant challenge, but I think being a father forces or a parent forces you to one re-examine and re understand your own past, it forces you to really like, see so much more clearly the effect that your actions have on other people.

 And, you know, it's like, you lose your temper at an adult, you know, they're an adult. So maybe you get that back at them. You know, if you lose your temper at a child, you see the. The fact that it's having on this person, a person that you're, you not only don't want to hurt, but whose job it is for you to protect.

 And, and it's just like this sort of. Perpetual look in the mirror, um, that I, that I think it either makes you better or you, uh, are so, or you have to completely tune it out. You know what I mean? So I think some, obviously some parents are so struggling with their own issue is that, you know, they're really not doing a good job.

 And then I think other people are really transformed by the experience of going through it. And I've obviously I'm. Trying to be transformed 

 Jeremy: [00:30:00] that, that, uh, that sounds familiar. That sounds familiar. Yeah, of course. Um, well, w we're at the end of our time, uh, uh, any sort of final takeaways, any, anything you want people to know as they consider picking up the book?

 Ryan Holiday: [00:30:12] Yeah. I mean, uh, there's this great line from case is only those who make time for philosophy are truly alive. I think this idea that, that you have to make room in your life for study, for thinking, for reflection, for self improvement is really, really important. And it's like, people go, but I'm too busy.

 And then you're like, okay, but how much cable news do you watch? How much time do you spend on social media? You know, like really, really building an active practice in your life where you're working on getting better. That's what philosophy is. It's not what they do at Harvard. It's you sitting alone with a book and, you know, sort of having a conversation with someone who lived 2000 years ago.

 Jeremy: [00:30:55] All right. The book is lives of the Stoics, and that was the author Ryan holiday. Again, I'm just a huge fan of his work. It's really meant a lot to me. So a really big deal for us to be able to talk with him and share sort of his process and what all went into writing that book. Speaking of Ryan's book, we got to give it away.

 We've we've got several copies of, uh, lives of the stoics, and we want to give them to you. Well, we need you to do is go to our website, sign up for the newsletter that we give you and what we're trying to do more and more as we go on with the show is, is whenever we talk to these authors that put together these brilliant pieces of work, we want to share them with you.

 And we're going to share them with the people that are signed up for our newsletter. So we will draw randomly folks from that, uh, each week. And we'll send those out to the various winners. So go to our website, the fitness.com and we will try and get you a copy of. Lives of the Stoics by Ryan holiday, which by the way, I still can't believe that interview happened.

 That I mentioned at the beginning, I'm such a big fan of his work. And so this is, I hope, I hope that you got as much out of this interview, uh, as we did in talking to him because he's just a fascinating dude and I'm just so thrilled to have had the opportunity to talk to him. And I hope we get to do that again.

 All right. Now, before we go, Zach, it is challenged time. 

 Zach: [00:32:03] Alright. I'm going to challenge myself to something this week. And I, I have had a 

 couple of injuries. That have really kept me out of the gym and I could be doing modified workouts, but I'm not because I like to do the full workout. I like to do, you know, a hundred percent and, you know, also going to the gym and working out with other people with an injury, knowing I have to modify like my ego got in the way of that.

 Right. I didn't want other people to see me not doing everything to its full fullest extent. And it kind of brought up, um, my favorite quote from Seneca, which really helps me manage my anxiety. It's we suffer more often in imagination than in reality. In my mind I had this, I was already suffering. People would see me model flake instead of running, I'd be on the bike or, you know, I'm not lifting as heavy wait as that.

 I used to be able to because. You know, I haven't lifted anything in four weeks 


 I suffered for weeks on that before I really just said, screw it, go to the gym. And who cares? What other people are, are, are thinking, or even 

 no, one's looking. No one cares.

 Jeremy: [00:33:16] It's that hard? Yeah. That's my favorite part is that almost always, nobody is even looking at you.

 They're so worried about what you think of them. They're not even given a second thought to what you're doing and thinking badly about it. So funny how we do that to ourselves. 

 Zach: [00:33:29] Yeah. So that quote is really it's my anxiety in a nutshell. Right. I, whatever the reality of whatever situation is I'm about to go into, I suffer mentally in, you know, thinking about it, planning it, how I'm going to look, what other people are going to think of me.

 Like all the quotes that we talked about during the show, like run through my mind and cause me to suffer greatly before anything has ever even fucking happened. 

 Jeremy: [00:33:55] Yeah. Yeah. I get hung up on. Like, I'll definitely worry about what somebody thinks, but I'll, I'll take it to the next level of, they're going to ask me why I'm doing something differently.

 And then I'm going to have to explain, like, and especially the injuries that, that I've been carrying for the last few weeks, like, I literally hurt my tailbone by sitting on, on a bad chair for a few weeks, but I don't want to have that conversation. With whoever I'm working out in front of, whether it's, you know, at home, I don't want to, well, yeah.

 Now I've got this dumb injury or I did this thing. Oh yeah. Oh, that's pretty crazy. Yeah, isn't it though. I just don't want to go through the gymnastics of that. It's ridiculous. So that's where I get hung up, but, but similarly, I've got these injuries and even though every day in my journal and I do want to mention journals really quick, uh, I write down, you know, find an exercise that you can do without hurting yourself.

 So AI don't do it because automatically in my brain, whatever exercise I find it's going to hurt. So just don't even bother. Cause it's, you're going to just hurt yourself. And that has been this, this awful crutch that I've been leaning on for weeks. And now today I feel like crap, I've eaten like crap today and I'm paying for it because I'm not doing the things that fit the person I want to be.

 You know, today I didn't, I didn't pick up the food and go. Does the person you want to be, want to eat this? I just went, Oh, that looks good. And her all. So the lessons of, of all of this stuff we've been talking about. They, they work on that basic of a level and also a, you know, where do I want to live in?

 What do I want to do with my life level? Like, it's just, it applies universally. Um, so the, the short version of all of the words that I just let fall out of my mouth is that my challenge to myself is similar. I'm going to, I'm going to actually find an exercise that I can do every day. And even if it's just walking a little farther than I have, but there's, I've got to do something to move my body because.

 I'm not doing myself any favors, but I did want to mention quickly because journaling to me is a huge part of this and being the person you want to be. And every single day, when I wake up, I write down sort of my schedule, the way I need things to go, the priorities that I have, the ones that, that are non negotiable that have to get done.

 The ones that, you know, if I don't run out of time, whatever, and it is amazing how taking that five or 10 minutes every morning. Sets me up for not reacting to my day. It sets me up to create the day that I want. And yes, every day, something in the schedule goes wrong. Every day is something that was non negotiable, becomes negotiable because time gets in the way.

 But I would rather react that way than to just sort of wake up and go, well, what's coming today and just I'll all day be SWAT and flies, trying to react to whatever life throws at me. That's probably a whole other show, but just the, the pressure that we're constantly under to, to grow and be better and, and get a better job and make more money and buy the bigger house.

 You know, Ryan even mentioned it in the interview like this, this pandemic lifestyle is a little bit more the way we're supposed to live a little bit slowed down and, and sort of taking stock and going, you know, what I have, what I have is good enough and I don't need to constantly be pursuing the next thing.

 That's an, it's an important lesson. I think that we can all take from, from not only, you know, what Ryan writes about it from the Stoics, but from this experience, 

 Zach: [00:37:30] Yeah, it's changed my life in the last year. I mean, I, you can probably attest to it. I, I run fast. I switched from one thing to the next, to the next to the next.

 And it's been interesting because over the last, like the entire summer, it was all about taking care of my lawn. And that was so. Frustrating yet really relaxing and just really nice, you know, it was fulfilling. 

 Jeremy: [00:37:58] There's something about those tasks that is almost a Buddhist where it's like, this is the thing I need to take care of.

 You can focus on it for a brief amount of time and then sit back and look at the, the, um, fruits of your labor. When you can throw yourself into something like that. And you're not constantly pulled from thing to thing to thing. That's again, I just think that's sort of more, the way we're supposed to live and we've gotten so caught up in this, like consumer driven, constantly, you know, outdoing your neighbor or getting the next coolest gadget thing.

 I don't think that's healthy. I don't think that's what, we're what we're here for. And, and this is, you know, I think this is kind of the earth, the universe, your God, whatever, whatever you want to choose, but it's fate saying, Hey, you guys should have turned left back there. And since you didn't, you've all been sent to your room to figure it out.

 And now we're still trying to figure it out. 

 Zach: [00:39:00] Just think of this quote from marcus aurelius earliest when you arise in the morning. Think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy and to love 


 Jeremy: [00:39:13] Yeah. That's all you need. So if you're looking for a way to sort of implement, you know, a lot of these teachings to me that is a really basic one where you don't have to be an expert in stoicism.

 It's literally just, what do I want out of this day and writing it down? What are some things that I'm waking up grateful for writing it down? And checking in at the end of the day, how did I do with all of that? To me, that that has been one of the biggest game changing things that I've done in my life.

 Uh, so if, so, if you take anything away from this by Ryan holiday's book, but then also do use a journal to plan, to plan your life so that you're not just reacting to life. 

 Zach: [00:39:57] Could not have said it better 

 Jeremy: [00:39:58] myself. All right. So that's going to bring this episode to a close and I'm very excited about next week's episode.

 A lot of you discovered us. I think when we interviewed Gary, John Bishop, a few weeks ago, author of unfuck yourself, stop doing that shit and his newest one wise as fuck. We're going to be talking to him about the new book and I'm still just diving into it. But already the opening few pages are just full of nuggets of wisdom that.

 Much like these stoic quotes that we've referenced. It's, it's crazy how he can in a sentence, a life lesson that can just penetrate you and just make you think. Wow, that that is something that I need to do more of in my life. A great dude, really fun interview. Um, I'm going to have to hide my guitar because it hangs in the background of our zoom calls and he likes to make fun of my guitar.

 As we found last time, 

 Zach: [00:40:50] he really let you have it on that. 

 Just hammered me on the, uh, the guitar issue. 

 If I remember right there was, there was even a comment before recording started. 

 Jeremy: [00:40:59] Yes. He made fun of me several times for the guitar that I never ever play. So I'm really excited that we get to talk to him again.

 His last book was his audio book was, was fantastic. The new book is great as well. So we will talk to him on the next episode that will be available Wednesday at our website, the fitness.com. Thank you so much for listening. Thank you so much for subscribing and for any ratings or reviews that you may choose to leave wherever you get your podcasts.

 We appreciate you being there. We will talk. See you next week at thefitmess.com. 

 Zach: [00:41:25] See ya 


 We know this podcast is amazing and does not seem to lack anything, but we do need a legal disclaimer, Jeremy and Zach are not doctors. They do not play them on the internet. And even if they did play them on the internet, they would be really bad at it.

 Please consult your physician prior to implementing any changes 

 that you heard on this podcast, pollution or assumes that Jeremy and Zach do not know what they are talking about and that you will do your own research on the topics talked about on this podcast.


Ryan HolidayProfile Photo

Ryan Holiday


RYAN HOLIDAY is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying; The Obstacle Is the Way; Ego Is the Enemy; Conspiracy and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition.