Over the past year, I have become increasingly drawn to Stoicism. Stoicism is an ancient philosophy, an approach to life that focuses on building virtues of character that make us more resilient and wise and less impacted by negative emotions.
Of immeasurable assistance on my way to understanding this ancient but relevant philosophy has been the works of Ryan Holiday, author of numerous instructive books about Stoicism such as The Daily Stoic and The Obstacle is the Way. He also produces and excellent podcast, The Daily Stoic.
Discipline is Destiny, is the second (although the first one encountered by me) of a planned four part series dedicated to the four virtues: courage, temperance (i.e. self-discipline), justice and wisdom.
“To master anything, we must first master ourselves: our emotions, thoughts and actions.”
Holiday illustrates, with entertaining anecdotes, his points about how self-control, focus and consistency have been the cornerstones to the achievements of some of history’s greats from Marcus Aurelius to Toni Morrison. Showing up and being consistent, rather than waiting for brilliance to strike, is what moves the needle for most of us. Morrison rose before dawn and sat at her desk to write, every day. She did this as a single mother of two boys with a full-time job in an industry dominated by white males. Early in the morning, Morrison was free of other obligations. Every day, she showed up, despite all the obstacles that could have impeded her. Aren’t we lucky!
On the flip side, Holiday portrays how lack of self-discipline can undo us, as it did to the famed glutton, King George IV. The man became so obese from his insatiable appetite for food and wine that he could not lie down for fear that the weight of his own chest would asphyxiate him. An extreme example perhaps but it emphasises the point. Self-discipline is vital to achieve in this life and lack of it can be dangerous.
Discipline is Destiny is full of excellent advice, especially if you want some wisdom about how to face life’s inevitable challenges with equanimity. This book really resonated with me and I highly, highly recommend it.