“We must undergo a hard winter training and not rush into things for which we haven’t prepared.”EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 1.2.32
Author Ryan Holiday (the author of The Daily Stoic) helps us understand the phrase “hard winter training” a little bit better as it’s used in the quote above from Epictetus. In Greek it is expressed as cheimaskesai, and it basically means there is no time off. Soldiers didn’t usually fight 365 days a year, and winter was a down period.
No such luck for us Stoics! Philosophy and self-improvement is a full-time gig — all day, every day. There’s no rest for those who wish to become “greater of soul”. It’s a process of continuous improvement and it permeates all aspects of life. In fact, stoicism is life.
We can’t take days off in this grand quest, and we can’t do it partway. We can’t ‘sort of’ practice stoicism, or it won’t work. It’s an all-or-nothing deal, because it needs to touch all aspects of our thinking in order to be effective.
This is how we fix ourselves. This is how we strengthen our soul and become happier and more resilient. Able to handle anything that life throws our way.
Not slightly, not a little bit — all the way.
Either do it whole-heartedly, or miss out on the rewards!
I’m doing it every day
Consistency — like that described above — is exactly what led to the creation of this Meditations by Billy website. I made a commitment to myself that I was going to read the The Daily Stoic book and journal about it every day for a year. Not exactly a huge commitment, especially since each day’s entry is so easy to read, but still it was a start.
And once I was journaling every day, I thought “Hey why don’t I just start a website and share my thoughts and maybe people will find it helpful or enjoyable”. (And here you are, reading it!)
But the key was that I realized it had to be every day, otherwise it wouldn’t work. I couldn’t occasionally pick up the book, or occasionally post. I had to read & post every single day if I wanted the website to be helpful. And even more importantly, if I wanted to grow and benefit as a person, I was going to have to always be striving toward that, all the time.
You can make that kind of commitment too, of course. You can read the same book, or a different one. You can make a decision to adopt a new daily habit of introspection and learning about philosophy and stoicism that will improve your life — but only if you do it all day, every day.