11 Important Things I’m Thinking About In 2023​

Ryan Holiday
5 min readFeb 10

Marcus Aurelius thought a lot about thinking.

“Our life is dyed by the color of our thoughts,” he wrote. So naturally, he tried to be thoughtful about what he thought and how he thought. “Get used to winnowing your thoughts,” he said, “so that when someone asked you what you were thinking, you could answer straightforwardly.”

This is a good test for us today as we run around busy and preoccupied by our thoughts. If someone asked us, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? What are you thinking about?” — would we have a good answer?

One of the things I am doing at the beginning of this year is meditating on a handful of ideas — most from the Stoics — that will hopefully make me better. Things that will hopefully dye my life a good color.

Here are some of them…

[1] Doing less, better. One of the challenges of the Daily Stoic New Year New You Challenge was to pick a mantra. I picked, “do less,” an idea that comes from Marcus Aurelius. “If you seek tranquility,” he said, “do less.” And then he follows the note to himself with some clarification. Not nothing, less. Do only what’s essential. “Which brings a double satisfaction,” he writes, “to do less, better.”

[2] Being fast now and later. I had Olympic mountain biker Kate Courtney on the podcastwhile I was working on Discipline is Destiny and she told me a piece of advice she had gotten from her coach when she was pushing herself too hard in practice. “Do you want to be fast now,” they asked, “or later?” Meaning, do you want to win this workout or win the race?

[3] Being a good steward of Stoicism. Next to my desk, I have a notecard tapped to the wall that says, “Am I being a good steward of Stoicism?” Writing books is a business. My bookstore, The Painted Porch, is a business. Daily Stoic is a business. But I always try to ask myself not if I am making good business decisions, but if I am being a good steward of Stoicism, of the philosophy that’s given so much to me. Am I being honest and ethical and fair and reasonable and moderate — I try to think about all those things.

[4] Not always having an opinion. It’s possible, Marcus Aurelius said, to not have an opinion. You don’t have to turn this into something, he…

Ryan Holiday

Bestselling author of ‘Conspiracy,’ ‘Ego is the Enemy’ & ‘The Obstacle Is The Way’ http://amzn.to/24qKRWR