Includes Notion Template
In this article, you will learn how to begin each day as a modern Stoic, infusing your psyche with powerful principles to maximise your productivity and peace of mind.
You may know by now, one of the most famous Stoic techniques is what’s called “premeditation of adversity.”
(Also called “negative visualisation” and “premeditatio malorum.”)
Before going about their day, the Stoics would imagine in advance the obstacles that might come up for three reasons:
- To not be caught by surprise
- To rehearse acting wisely in the face of hardship
- To prepare ahead of time to negate obstacles
Strong emotions are always going to be harder to navigate when they come up as unexpected reactions to events. In this way, Stoicism works best as a preventative medicine.
A great example of this technique can be found in Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations:
When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they cannot tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own - not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.
There is great value in beginning each day with some preparatory steps.
Each morning when I wake up, I begin by opening my Notion app, and answering a set of prompts in a short journalling exercise. I call this the…
I/ The Stoic Morning Journal Check-In
I chose these questions to include Stoic principles as well as some prompts covering positive psychology and productivity.
I’ve also added a quote from Epictetus, based on his suggestion for how Stoics should plan their day.
Here are the questions I answer each day:
You can “duplicate” this very Notion template for your own use here.
Or you can just write them out by hand or in a digital notebook and answer them each day.
After I’ve filled out the questions, I mark this task as “complete” in my Streaks app.
II/ The Stoic Morning Guided Meditation
After I complete my morning check-in (usually in bed), I then sit up and spend a few minutes practicing the same technique Marcus Aurelius used to start his day.
I’ve created this exact guided meditation for you to use on Insight Timer, which you can access for free here.
In this meditation, I spend time imagining how I will respond to hardship and setbacks so that nothing can catch me off-guard.
This whole routine takes 10-20 minutes, and is an insanely productive use of time.
Imagine an A/B test:
One version of you did this every day for a year, and the other version spent that 20 minutes scrolling Facebook.
What would be the result of that test?