You have written the busy person’s guide to Stoic philosophy relevant for a workplace setting, Ryan Holiday.

Reading this essay, I am impressed at the overlap of concepts between Zen Buddhism and Stoicism:

  • Introspection of yourself and keeping a watch on you. There is no concept of Self, instead you think of mind as modules where we shift from one state to another, switching from one module to another, as Robert Wright writes in “Why Buddhism is True”
  • Emotion triggers our reactions, our “feelings” trigger our reactions. Same thing as you wrote the things Stoics would warn. Check your feelings, and you get a clarity around everything you do. Specifically, what is the feeling at this very moment? Acknowledging and defining the feelings let us narrow down.
  • The worth of remaining unwavered knowing well that life and mind are such that they will lead us astray: so the practice of Zen meditation, where you focus on the breath and allow the mind to roam, but observe where it goes and then, very gently bring it back to the focus. You can apply it to almost any activity in daily lives, even if you do not have the time to focus on the breath every day. Realise the mind is taking off, bring it back to the breath and to the task at hand.

One wonders that the root of these philosophies are kind of same: both arose in a time and refined over time where princes and kings and naives alike faced pretty much the same problems we face now: distraction, demands on our meagre time, and getting drawn out thin. Only the tools have changed.

Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Also in:

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store