Time marches on, the sands of the hourglass continue to fall. We’ve made yet another trip, as a planet, around our sun. As a small aside, it’s interesting to me how many religious and cultural traditions mimic this act with circumabulation about central objects of importance, a microcosmic reflection of the order of the cosmos.
I wanted to begin this new year, not with resolutions, but with advice: for myself. One of the exercises I first attempted when beginning on my Stoic journey a half-decade ago was a series of modern dialogues with a hypothetical Sage. I remember being a bit surprised that I had good advice for myself at the time. The figure of the Sage is a useful tool in the Stoic Toolkit, and I wanted to pick it back up and try it again.
So, without further ado, here are several Stoic tips for the προκόπτων for a Εὐδαίμων New Year, directed to me (which you may appreciate also) :
- Set aside specific times for reading, contemplation, and philosophical exercise.
- Inculcate a series of habits and spiritual exercises for the training to virtue.
- Actually test impressions and thoughts with the tools you have. You must actually do the thing to yield the result.
- Set aside the desire to acquire more books, and instead acquire a deeper understanding of the texts you already have.
- Set up patterns or triggers for reminding yourself to apply the doctrines of our school.
- Meet with a greater force the effort to stagnate or be lazy with a desire towards progress. You have trained yourself in one direction for a long time, to right course now takes an extreme correction to have a moderate effect.
- Identify small things in which you can progress to build the momentum to address the larger
- Continue to maintain and build fellowship and association with others focused on similar goals.
- Be open to helping more, so far as your abilities allow, when asked. Until then, practice silence as much as possible.
- Assume that others are acting in good faith, and meet that with your own. If proven the opposite, remember that those who do evil do so against their will.
- Apply Hierocles’ Circles of Affinity in daily life: treat people with greater kindness.
- Set up a time for mediation/contemplation, as well as moderate physical exercise. You have found it true in the past that both of these are conducive to better states of mind for the practice of philosophy.
If you have any suggestions for yourself, feel free to share those in the comments.
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