The Stoic school of philosophy has had some life breathed into it over the last few decades. There are more books than ever, more podcasts, and more lectures available. I’ll include some recommendations at the end. I don’t use that much social media these days, but if I crawled out from under my rock, I’d be willing to bet Stoicism is plastered all over Instagram and Twitter (X) as well.

This is all great, provided that you can filter the Stoicism from the Broicism. The more Stoics, the better, as far as I’m concerned. It’s a great foundation for a good and happy life, an antidote to negative emotions, and some of the wilder world views we have out there at the moment (I’m looking at you, Flat Earth).

So, to kick off 2024, let’s have a look at how you can level up your own Stoic practice if you’re new to the philosophy, or go over a reminder if you’re a veteran of the philosophy. If you’re looking for a beginner’s guide, try this.

In this article, we’ll have a look at:

  • Setting our intentions for 2024: If we can set a direction for what we’re aiming for, we’ll be better able to execute the plan towards the good life.
  • Practical application of Stoic ideas: 5 ideas from the ancient practical philosophy that will be the focus of 2024.
  • Wrap up and further reading: Some final thoughts on what we’ve covered and how we can implement Stoic philosophy in our daily lives.
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Before You Start: Setting Stoic Goals

The Roman statesman Seneca once wrote in his moral letters to Lucilius; Letter LXXI: On the supreme good, line 3:

“If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable.”

In the spirit of Seneca, we should find out which port we’re sailing to in our own lives.

In this planning phase, I like opening a moleskin notebook, grabbing a pen, and writing down some of the things I’ve been doing well recently and some of the things I could do with developing. 

For example:

  • I’ve been doing well with looking at the world objectively, noticing when I’m placing value judgements on things, and questioning whether those judgements accurately reflect reality or are projections of my own frustrations or emotions.
  • I’ve not done so well with the virtue of temperance, or discipline. I need to improve my ability to use reason and good judgement to determine my actions, not desire or impulse.

This means I need to work more on stoic ethics and the stoic virtue of temperance (one of the four cardinal virtues). So I can then go on to think about where I act impulsively, procrastinate, and let my desires control my behaviour. 

For example:

  • ​Staying home after work instead of working out
  • Having a couple of drinks at the end of the day instead of water
  • Loading up Apex Legends instead of working on this website.

While these things aren’t necessarily “bad,” they can quickly become unbalanced if we let them slip in everyday life.

Stoicism is a branch of philosophy that focuses on the importance of addressing what can be controlled. With that, here are some steps for you to follow in order to structure your own practice:

  1. Reflect: Awareness plays an important role in our practice. Think about the things you do well, the things you don’t do well, the things you want to improve on, and the areas of life you want to see develop. This will give you some idea of where to start.
  2. Be specific: Think about specific examples in daily life of where you don’t do well and where you do. Then think about what you feel in those moments, what drives your behavior, and how you feel about your behavior.
  3. Be specific again: If the situations above include triggers (like other people making you angry), think about how you’re viewing those situations, your beliefs, your prejudice, your assumptions, etc. There will be things here to work on.
  4. Consider your values: Reflect on the values of Stoic philosophy. Character and moral virtue are the most important things in a person’s life; they are the only things that should be our primary focus. From all of the work you’ve done above, where and how can you develop your character? 
  5. Track progress: Keep a record of your progress and monitor how you’re behaving in the situations you’ve outlined above. Over time, you should be moving away from how you behave now and closer to how you want to behave.

Next up, we’re going to take a look at some specific examples of practices from this Hellenistic philosophy that we can start right now to help on your journey.

Stoicism in 2024 Page Break of a Stoic temple

1. Practice Acceptance

The former slave to an adviser to Emperor Nero and Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, once said:

“Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our actions. The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered, but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others.”

To prevent ourselves from suffering unnecessarily, we can use the lessons of Epictetus in our own practice. The ancient stoics believed that we should only focus on what we have complete control over and accept what we cannot. In doing so, we protect ourselves from the suffering that comes when the world around us behaves unexpectedly and in a way we do not like.

A common thread throughout the philosophy is that if we can learn to accept that the world around us and external things are completely outside our control, we can quickly accept it, move on, and prevent any needless suffering.

Stoic Dichotomy of Control Infographic

If we can’t accept this, we’re doomed to become frustrated, bitter, angry, jealous, and generally unhappy over things we can do nothing about. No matter how much negative emotion we feel, the uncontrollable will not become controllable, so we’re better of accepting it and focusing on where we can have an affect: “opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions,” as Epictetus says.

I like splitting this into two halves: acceptance and resistance. If we can’t accept, we resist.

Let’s have a look at an example taken from The Orion Academy:

Let’s say you go for a job interview at your company. You don’t get the job, but someone you work with does. You’re given your feedback, and the next day you continue in your current role.

Option 1: You resist the situation. After all, you are better at your job than your colleague, who was promoted. You should have been given the position. The feedback was nonsense; they don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s not fair.

Option 2: You accept the reality of the situation. The job has been filled by someone else. You didn’t get it. Perhaps there are gaps in your abilities that you’re not yet able to see. You accept the feedback and begin to work on the areas that were highlighted as weaknesses. You grow. You move forward. You go after the next promotion.

The Stoics also had a principle called amor fati which teaches us to love fate and accept the natural conditions of the world around us. You can read more about it here.

2. Embrace Impermanence With Stoicism

In his journal (now called Meditations), Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius once wrote:

“Frightened of change? But what can exist without it?
What’s closer to nature’s heart? Can you take a hot bath and
leave the firewood as it was? Eat food without transforming
it? Can any vital process take place without something being

Can’t you see? It’s just the same with you—and just as vital to nature.”

Marcus Aurelius explains here that we often react negatively to change, but it’s vital to the nature of the universe. I tend to agree with him, and if it’s good enough for the Roman Empire, it’s good enough for me.

The early Stoics viewed the universe as a shifting and changing place, a place in which forms are constantly changing into new forms, all governed by a rational law they called the logos.

We can use this idea to lessen our own suffering. 

When we can learn to accept that the nature of the universe is change and that nothing is permanent, we can lessen the impact that change has on our mental state.

Change can bring with it uncertainty; it can bring loss, hardship, discomfort, and the need to get used to a new norm. We saw this during the pandemic. The world went through such a large change in the way we live, work, and communicate that many people experienced high levels of anxiety and stress as they had to come to terms with this “new normal.”

other changes can come in the form of the loss of a loved one, the move to a new country, the loss of a job, or a breakup. However, if we can learn to accept change and impermanence as the norm, we can not only learn to accept change when it happens, but we can also develop a heightened feeling of gratitude when we do have things that we value. This gratitude comes from knowing that things don’t last forever, so we can enjoy them to the fullest while they’re here.

I will say that in the real world, loss will bring some level of negative emotion. We’re not robots; we’re human beings. While some suffering is inevitable, all of this will prevent us from suffering more than is necessary.

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3. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is another powerful practice that both compliments and aligns with modern stoicism. 

When we’re mindful of ourselves and the world around us, we can develop the following:

  1. Awareness of our own emotions and reactions in real time.
  2. The ability to be fully present in whatever we’re doing. This can help build gratitude.
  3. The ability to recognise when our emotions are driving our actions and choose reasoned choices instead.

If we are able to be fully present in the moment and observe our thoughts and emotions without judgment, we can more easily find a place of calm and clarity. This practice allows us to stay grounded and better manage our reactions to external events. In this state, we can also better align ourselves with good character and the Stoic principles we’re trying to build.

Mindfulness allows us to practice Stoicism in real time rather than in reflection. What I mean by this, for example, is the ability to accept what we can’t control in the moment and move on. Rather than resisting life in the moment and waiting to get to acceptance later upon reflection.

Some of the things we can think about focusing on when learning to be mindful are:

  • Improved self-awareness and emotional intelligence
  • Improved emotional resilience and composure
  • Better ability to manage stress
  • Increased focus and concentration
  • Greater appreciation and gratitude for the present

And here are some things we can think about building into a daily routine:

Stoic Practices
Practice mindful breathingIt calms the mind and reduces stress
Engage in daily mindfulness meditationEnhances self-awareness and cultivates inner peace
Observe your thoughts without judgmentPromotes emotional resilience and non-reactivity
Bring mindfulness to everyday activitiesFosters a sense of presence and appreciation

4. Focus on Stoic Virtue

Zeno of Citium and later Stoics all believed that virtue was the only good and a lack of virtue was the only evil. Everything else is a shade of indifferent.

Through virtue, we become better people; we learn wisdom, courage, justice, self-control, and strength of character. Stoic philosophers also believed that through being a virtuous person we could reach eudaimonia, the Greek word for flourishing.

Virtue is linked to Stoic ethics, and practicing virtue means making ethical choices and prioritizing moral values in our actions and decisions.

The four Stoic virtues are:

  1. Wisdom – our ability to see things as they are, free from bias, and prejudice. Wisdom is our ability to see right from wrong, use reason and rational judgement, and avoid warping the truth of what we see.
  2. Courage– our ability to act in alignment with what we think is right, despite pressure not to.
  3. Justice– our capacity to behave in the interests of the common and wider good. The opposite of this would be to behave in ways that are detrimental to our neighbours and fellow man.
  4. Temperance – our ability to exercise self restraint, self control, moderation, and discipline.
Four-Stoic-Virtues Infographic

On wisdom, Epictetus said:

“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own”

– Epictetus, Discourses, 2.5.4–5

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5. Practicing Gratitude

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive-to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

At first glance, it’s not difficult to see how the philosophy of stoicism and gratitude fit together.

​For me, the principle that highlights this connection most strongly is the concept of memento mori.

Memento mori is the practice of reminding yourself of death, that one day you won’t be here any more.

While this idea might seem a little morbid, if we’re constantly reminding ourselves that our time is limited, we prevent ourselves from taking things for granted. Lets look at an example.

Let’s say you’re married with kids. While you tuck your kids into bed and read them a quick story from their favourite book, the reminder that you wont be here to do this forever and the fact that there will be a time when you won’t be around for them can have a strong impact on how much you appreciate this moment.

We can use this concept of memento mori for all kinds of things, from being around friends and family, to eating your favourite food, reading your favourite books, watching your favourite films, etc.

Gratitude in general is a good antidote to feelings of jealousy, bitterness, and upset at not having what we want. It’s an antidote because it trains us to focus on being happy about what we have and not take things for granted.


To end, I think Stoicism is a philosophical system that’s full of helpful practices and ways of seeing the world that work towards making us better people, more resilient, happier, and generally content.

Despite it’s roots coming from a small area in the Athenian agora, the stoa poikile, this philosophy is just as applicable in modern life as it was in the ancient world. Perhaps even more so, given the amount of complexity and noise we have to navigate.

Hopefully, this has given you some ideas of how to structure your practice for 2024 and beyond. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a message below.

To learn more, I’d recommend reading:

John Sellars – Lessons in Stoicism

Pierre Hadot – Philosophy as a Way of Life

Donald Robertson – How To Think Like a Roman Emperor

Massimo Pigliucci – How To Be a Stoic

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