This video from The Realized Man explains three essential Stoic exercises that you can implement as a beginner or an advanced Stoic and see results from immediately. If you have been practicing Stoicism for a while your a probably familiar with the exercises below, but Isaac gives some very practical tips on how to implement them in your life:
View from above
In the video Marcus Aurelius is quoted:
"You can rid yourself of many useless things among those that disturb you, for they lie entirely in your imagination; and you will then gain for yourself ample space by comprehending the whole universe in your mind, and by contemplating the eternity of time, and observing the rapid change of every part of everything, how short is the time from birth to dissolution, and the illimitable time before birth as well as the equally boundless time after dissolution."
Things only bother us when we give it significance. But how can anything in our short lifetime be of any significance when you think of the size of the universe and its age? The view from above is an excellent exercise to do when situations overwhelm you and you need to regain perspective.
In the video Seneca is quoted:
“Remember that all we have is “on loan” from Fortune, which can reclaim it without our permission—indeed, without even advance notice. Thus, we should love all our dear ones, but always with the thought that we have no promise that we may keep them forever—nay, no promise even that we may keep them for long.”
When you first learn about the practice of negative visualization, it may seem gloomy or counterintuitive. However, by practicing negative visualization from time to time, you tend to appreciate a lot more the people and things you have, and are thankful for the time spent when you they are taken away from you. Everything is borrowed.
In the video Epictetus is quoted:
"But neither a bull nor a noble-spirited man comes to be what he is all at once; he must undertake hard winter training, and prepare himself, and not propel himself rashly into what is not appropriate to him."
Before I practiced poverty, I was very skeptical about the effectiveness of taking cold showers, sleeping on the floor and fasting. After practicing these things regularly for the past year and a half, I can say that the realization I can do with a lot less is very powerful. The relaxed state of mind bleeds into all parts of life, resulting in seeing through my impressions with more ease.
Try these three exercises during this week. That means: dedicate some time on contemplating the whole, negative visualization and practicing voluntary discomfort. How about taking a cold shower for every day of this week? Or why not sleep on a thin mat on the floor for a night or two, and appreciate your warm and soft bed more once you get to enjoy it again? These exercises are powerful and will show you that you can live a good life with few externals. As a bonus you get more appreciation for what you already have.