12 Stoic Lessons From Las Vegas | The Daily Stoic with Ryan Holiday

Key Takeaways

  • Too much pleasure taken too far becomes its own kind of pain and punishment
  • Premeditatio Malorum – visualization of negative outcomes
    • Mentally prepare for something to go wrong; that’s how you have a plan and be able to shrug it off/ move forward and not be devastated
  • Search yourself for vices, but look for virtues in other people
    • Self-control and self-discipline are not something you project on other people
  • Those who long for posthumous fame forget that they won’t be around to enjoy it
  • “Often the most powerful, the most ambitious, the people you look up to are actually a lot less free-er, not just that you think, but that you would ever want to be.” – Ryan Holiday
  • Time is our most precious resource. If we know how to manage our time, life is plenty long
  • What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas; you are still stained by the shame
    • When you do something bad in the pursuit of pleasure, the pleasure disappears quickly but the shame endures
  • Life starts with the little choices; the decision to get up early, the decision to go work out, the decision to get down and do your work instead of procrastinating

Intro

  • What can Las Vegas teach us about Stoicism? How can Stoicism help us avoid succumbing to excess in the city that never sleeps?
    • Expect to learn 12 valuable lessons on how to find the middle ground in everyday life, why posthumous fame is ridiculous and why taking it too far can make you have regrets and be unhappy
  • Host: Ryan Holiday (@ryanholiday)

1. Find the Right Amount

  • First time in Vegas? Enjoy it but don’t take it too far (hint: don’t do it as they did in the Hangover trilogy)
  • “Every virtue is a mean between two extremes, each of which is a vice.”Aristotle
  • Temperance (virtue)
    • Moderation or self-restraint; find the right amount of pleasure
    • Too much pleasure taken too far becomes its own kind of pain and punishment

2. Be Prepared

  • “It won’t happen to me”: The optimism bias
    • As Seneca would say; “the unexpected blows land heaviest.”
  • Premeditatio Malorum – visualization of negative outcomes
    • Mentally prepare for something to go wrong; that’s how you have a plan and be able to shrug it off/ move forward and not be devastated

3. Find Peace Within

  • According to Marcus Aurelius, we won’t find peace and serenity in the countryside, at a resort, or on vacation; we have to look inward
    • Find peace by slowing down, halting, by staying in one spot
    • It’s lovely to go on a vacation but you are never going to find what you’re looking for because what you are actually doing is running away from yourself

4. Be Tolerant With Others

  • Don’t be hard on others
    • Search yourself for vices, but look for virtues in other people
    • Self-control and self-discipline are not something you project on other people

5. Don’t Chase Fame

  • Julius Ceasar is dead, he doesn’t care people are naming hotels after him
  • Those who long for posthumous fame forget that they won’t be around to enjoy it
  • Chasing fame comes at the expense of the present moment
  • Stoics are remembered because of the good work they did on their soul, not for impressing people and their riches
  • It’s not worth it, you won’t be around to remember it anyway

6. Give Yourself Freedom

  • So many people exist in a form of self-imposed slavery
    • More money, more power, satiation of ambition, etc.
  • Freedom is something we give ourselves, it comes from the inside
  • “Often the most powerful, the most ambitious, the people you look up to are actually a lot less free-er, not just that you think, but that you would ever want to be.” – Ryan Holiday
  • As Seneca said, being poor is not just having too little, it’s also craving more

7. Stop Wasting Life

  • “Where did the time go?” It went to the things that don’t really matter
  • Life can be long if you don’t waste time according to Seneca
    • Time is our most precious resource. If we know how to manage our time, life is plenty long
  • The problem is that most people aren’t even alive, they go from one temptation to the other; drugged along by their urges or what others are doing

8. Humble Yourself

  • Knock yourself down a peg when people are trying to raise you up
  • Remember that the things that we chase (things that flatter the ego) are ephemeral at best, worthless in truth
  • You don’t want to let it get to you, make you gloat; stay focused on the finish line and forget about anything else

9. The Shame Endures

  • When you do something difficult, the labor disappears but the good remains
    • When you do something bad in the pursuit of pleasure, the pleasure disappears quickly but the shame endures
  • What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas; you are still stained by the shame
    • Be the same person you would be if people were watching you and if they knew what you were doing

10. Prepare for Big Moments

  • Be like Cato the Younger
    • Cato was wealthy but he walked around Rome bare-headed, barefoot, with a thin robe
    • He was fine with being alone and looking differently, being judged and misunderstood; this was not just for fun, it was a preparation 
    • Preparation for taking a stand against Ceaser, against corruption, against the decadence of his time
    • He didn’t care about sideways glances, critique, doubting
    • He made it a daily habit which is what we have to do to prepare for a moment like that in our own lives

11. Little Choices Matter

  • Life starts with the little choices; the decision to get up early, the decision to go work out, the decision to get down and do your work instead of procrastinating
  • Are you making a good choice or the lazy choice, a short-term choice or the long-term choice?
    • Epictetus would say: “if you want to be beautiful, make beautiful choices.”
  • Our well-being is realized in small steps but it’s no small thing

12. Don’t Take It Too Far

  • There’s this stereotype that the stoics didn’t have any fun. That’s wrong
    • Stoics had plenty of fun, but they had the right amount of fun and they didn’t take it too far
    • When you take a good thing too far it ceases to be a good thing and can make you have regrets, be unhappy, and miserable
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Notes By Dario

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