8 Stoic Advice Tips To Keep Going During Hard Days: Stoicism By Marcus Aurelius (A Must Read)

8 Stoic Advice Tips To Keep Going During Hard Days: Stoicism By Marcus Aurelius (A Must Read)

Life inevitably serves up periods of difficulty, distress, and hard days. When challenges arise, it’s easy to get swept up in destructive thought patterns and emotions undermining resilience. We compound troubles when reacting with exaggerated distress to setbacks that are ultimately transient.

The ancient philosophy of Stoicism offers techniques to strengthen mental fortitude to withstand inevitable hard times. Stoic practices help us control our reactions to events, build grit through adversity visualization, avoid wasted efforts, view challenges in proper perspective, govern decisions with logic over emotions, find happiness amidst imperfect conditions, accept what we cannot control, and keep the bigger picture in mind.

We can foster profound resilience on difficult days by appropriating principles from Stoic sages like Marcus Aurelius. In this post, we’ll explore eight vital Stoic techniques to lift you when life gets you down. Adopting this philosophical approach provides ballast to steady us through stormy seas and guide us into wiser, calmer harbors. Read on to learn actionable Stoic advice for coping with challenges while maintaining perspective, control, and inner peace.

1. Focus On What You Can Control

The Stoics stressed focusing your efforts on what you can influence in any situation. Don’t waste energy on external events or other people’s actions you can’t control. Take stock of aspects you have power over during challenges, and direct your attention there. For example, you can’t control whether you lose a job, but you can manage your financial prudence, skills development, and interview preparation to land new work.

2. Practice Negative Visualization

Regularly visualize the worst-case scenarios related to your goals and fears. Vividly imagine failing an exam, losing a loved one, becoming grievously ill, or other adversity. This inoculates you against future misfortune. You realize you can handle and recover from even the worst cases when challenges arise. Negative visualization also boosts present-moment gratitude, helping you appreciate the good things you have that could be absent tomorrow.

3. Don’t Waste Energy On Things Outside Your Influence

It’s easy to meditate endlessly on external conditions causing distress. But complaining about things utterly outside your control is pointless and draining. Practice non-attachment by accepting circumstances as they are. Then, channel your efforts productively towards areas of influence. For example, don’t rail against rush hour traffic jams you can’t control. Instead, focus on leaving earlier or podcasts you can enjoy during the commute.

4. Remember That Struggling Is Part Of Life

Suffering and setbacks are inevitable parts of the human experience, not aberrations to be avoided at all costs. Adopting a Stoic mindset means fully expecting difficulties to arise. Maintain perspective when faced with challenges. The situation may be tricky, but it is transient and does not inherently diminish your worth or capabilities. Stay even-keeled in your emotional reactions rather than catastrophizing.

5. Focus On Your Reasoning, Not Just Your Passions

It’s easy to get swept away by strong emotions when facing trials and tribulations. The Stoic approach is to pause, breathe, and engage your rational mind first. Don’t just reflexively react. Respond thoughtfully after considering the situation logically. Allow reason to rule your thinking rather than raw animal instincts. This prevents hasty, exaggerated reactions you may later regret.

6. Don’t Wait For Perfect Conditions To Be Happy

Happiness comes from within, based on how you perceive and respond to the world. It does not require ideal external conditions. Don’t put off your contentment until some future goal is met or circumstances arise. Foster joy right now via proactive choices, self-care, gratitude, pursuing passions, and service to others. If you wait for a perfect life to be happy, you deny yourself joy in the imperfect present.

7. Do Your Best, Then Accept The Outcome

After preparing thoroughly for challenges, act decisively without rigid attachment to specific results. Some elements of outcomes will remain outside your control. Once you’ve done your best, accept what arises without distress. Let go of fixating on particular desired results. Making peace with uncertainty fosters resilience and flexibility.

8. Reflect On The Bigger Picture

When faced with significant difficulties or painful failure, adopt the broadest possible point of view. Current troubles are fleeting in the grand arc of your life story and the world. Even the worst catastrophes are ephemeral. Maintaining a cosmic perspective helps weather ephemeral setbacks without exaggerating their significance. Hard times, too, shall pass.

Adopting Stoic techniques won’t eliminate life’s challenges and painful experiences. However, practicing Stoicism can strengthen your ability to endure and even thrive during the inevitable hard times. Stay in control of your reasoning, recognize what is in your power, avoid wasted energy on the unchangeable, and view events in their broader context. Following such principles, you can keep your head high even on the most challenging days.

Jimmy’s Story: Applying Stoic Resilience During Hard Times

Jimmy is a 32-year-old accountant who has recently faced numerous difficulties in his professional and personal life. Jimmy was suddenly laid off after a decade at his company when his position was eliminated due to downsizing. On top of this professional adversity, his girlfriend of 5 years recently broke up with him unexpectedly. Jimmy has been struggling with despair, helplessness, and catastrophizing his situation.

By learning about and applying Stoic philosophies, Jimmy gained resilience during these challenging times. Here’s how some of the critical Stoic principles covered in this article helped him cope:

  • Focus on control: Jimmy refocused on aspects within his power, like networking, skills-building, and prudent financial decisions during his unemployment. Rather than ruminating on unchangeable factors like the company’s decisions, he directed energy into his job search.
  • Negative visualization: Jimmy visualized losing his savings and being forced to move back in with his parents before finding work again. This helped him realize how much worse things could be, boosting his appreciation for what he still had.
  • Avoid wasted efforts: Rather than complaining excessively about the breakup, Jimmy practiced non-attachment and focused on self-care, hitting the gym, reconnecting with friends, and finding meaning through volunteering.
  • Remember, suffering is daily: Jimmy had to adjust his mindset and realize setbacks are part of life, not a reflection of personal failure. He reminded himself that this suffering, too, should pass.
  • Logic over emotions: Jimmy paused to engage his rational mind when overwhelmed by grief or anxiety about the future. He responded thoughtfully instead of impulsively reacting.

By integrating Stoic practices, Jimmy cultivated resilience during significant adversity. While still challenging, Jimmy’s hard times were made more bearable by adopting a Stoic lens. He emerged stronger, wiser, and more at peace.

Key Takeaways

  • Prioritize control over your reactions vs external events
  • Envision worst cases to build resilience when hardship strikes
  • Let go of wasted efforts fretting over uncontrollable things
  • Remember, suffering is inevitable; don’t overreact when it arrives
  • Logic should govern decisions, not fleeting emotions
  • Foster happiness now amid imperfect conditions
  • After preparation, accept outcomes beyond your control
  • Adopt a cosmic perspective on transient troubles


By focusing energy on controllable aspects of troubling situations, mentally preparing for adversity, avoiding wasted efforts on the unchangeable, responding logically over emotionally, and maintaining perspective on the bigger picture, we can manifest the resilience and contentment the Stoics aspired to. Their wisdom helps us withstand the buffets of misfortune and harbor inner tranquility even during life’s most challenging days. Stoicism’s principles provide ballast that can steady us through stormy seas.