I don’t mean that to be a jerk, or something. I mean to say that it doesn’t matter because all that data given above is history, story, and ultimately, meaningless… unless, in each moment, the product of that all that above-mentioned work is a better person, in service to humanity, and committed to continual growth.
Epictetus recommends that we reflect each morning upon the following questions:
- What am I lacking in attaining freedom from passions?
- What for tranquility?
- What am I? A mere body, estate-holder, or reputation? None of these things.
- What, then? A rational being.
- What then is demanded of me? Meditate on your actions.
- How did I steer away from serenity?
- What did I do that was unfriendly, unsocial, or uncaring?
- What did I fail to do in all these things?
As we know, but often have a hard time remembering, rituals don’t have to be complex, extensive, religious or spiritual, or adhering to any hard-boundary, except for maybe ‘being meaningful’ and ‘performed with regularity’.
Marcus Aurelius’ regular morning and night ritual was writing to himself. I’m sure he never intended his personal writings to be read by anyone, but if we study philosophy, especially Stoicism, we’ve read those innermost thoughts of Marcus… we know then as his Meditations.
Whether we try Epictetus’ method, or Marcus Aurelius’, we can be assured these are practices and methodologies that have withstood time. Did they survive because of the fame or notoriety of the authors? Perhaps. Did they survive because of the quality of the content? Perhaps.
But really, who cares? They’re here, and available to us. Try them.
If they work, wonderful! Embrace them.
If you find they don’t work, try it again with a few friends before abandoning the discipline.
Rituals only work when done regularly, regardless of how motivated or inspired we are.
Starting the day after you read this, join me in embracing a self-examining morning ritual. You choose what and how.
Just do it, without ceasing. We’ll all be better for it.
(See y’all tomorrow)