1. Get up earlier
Start the day as you mean to go on. Use the extra time and quiet of the morning to prepare yourself for the day ahead.
Struggling to get up? Keep the words of Marcus Aurelius in mind:
On those mornings you struggle with getting up, keep this thought in mind — I am awakening to the work of a human being. Why then am I annoyed that I am going to do what I’m made for, for the very things for which I was put into this world? Or was I made for this, to snuggle under the covers and keep warm? It’s so pleasurable. Were you then made for pleasure? In short, to be coddled or to exert yourself? Meditations, 5.1
2. Practice gratitude
Don’t squander the extra time in the morning. Start a journal. (Personally, I recommend either the 5-minute journal or the Daily Stoic Journal as a starting point). Or start simply with a notepad and pen. Write down three things you’re grateful for and why.
3. Wear your worst clothes out
It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own. Marcus Aurelius
An easy way to begin to train your mind to care less about what other people might think is to walk out your door wearing your worst clothes. It should make you feel uncomfortable. That’s good. It’s that feeling we’re learning to control.
4. Skip lunch
The beginning and foundation of temperance lies in self-control in eating and drinking. Musonius Rufus
Remind yourself what hunger is. Maybe you already often skip lunch because you’re busy. Add some extra temperance by only drinking water for the day too. One surprising benefit you might find is that feeling of hunger can increase your focus.
5. Go for a walk instead
Use your time at lunch to go for a walk instead. It’s no accident that writers and thinkers throughout the ages have done some of their best work while walking. Don’t listen to podcasts or music. Allow yourself to be present with your own thoughts and pay attention to what’s around you. Use the time to refresh your mind and be ready for the challenges of the afternoon.
6. Be kind and forgiving
Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness. Seneca
What if today was your last day on earth? Are there people who you need to make amends with? Make them. Are there people you need to thank? Thank them. And those you cherish, cherish them.
While it might sound a bit morbid, Epictetus taught that as we kiss a loved one goodnight, we say to ourselves, ”You will not make it through until morning”. In this way, we can be grateful to see them when we wake up and less peturbed if something were to happen.
7. Review your day
I will keep constant watch over myself and — most usefully — will put each day up for review. For this is what makes us evil—that none of us looks back upon our own lives. We reflect upon only that which we are about to do. And yet our plans for the future descend from the past. Seneca Moral Letters, 83.2
Stoicism centres itself around improving yourself, and one of the best ways to do this is with a daily journaling or reflection practice. Doing this in the morning and evening act as great bookends for the day. Take a few minutes to review and reflect on your day and record your thoughts. It also has the added benefit of clearing your mind to get a better night’s sleep.
8. Look up at the stars
Stoics hold a cosmopolitan view of our world. That we are all citizens of the world, part of a single community. When you’re losing sight of that, go outside and look up at the stars. Think about our place in the universe. Remember how many circumstances had to come together for you to be standing here today. The world is indifferent to all of us, yet at the same time, it is incredible. Our entire planet is but a tiny dot in the vastness of space. In the grand scheme of things, our daily troubles with each other are insignificant. Live your life to the best of your ability and treat your fellow inhabitants with kindness.