10 Things You Should Do Every Morning (Stoic Morning Routine)

10 Things You Should Do Every Morning (Stoic Morning Routine)

Waking up each day presents an opportunity to set our intentions and pave the way for self-mastery according to Stoic principles. By focusing on essential morning routines rooted in this ancient Greek philosophical tradition, we prime ourselves to respond to adversity with emotional resilience while leading an existence aligned with wisdom and virtue. Beginning the day with specific rituals and reflections helps cement a mindset that stays with us through life’s inevitable ups and downs.

1. Practice Mindfulness & Attention

The Stoics emphasize the importance of focused attention to clearly perceive your judgments and impressions. Spend a few quiet minutes after waking simply noticing your breath and bodily sensations without judgment. Allow thoughts to pass by without following or evaluating them. This mindfulness meditation helps train skills in attention and concentration necessary for self-mastery.

2. Reflect on Your Goals and Priorities

Clarifying what you aim to accomplish and the principles you wish to embody is critical for direction and motivation. Review your key goals across domains like work, relationships, and self-improvement, selecting 1-2 priorities to focus on for the day ahead. Reminding yourself of essential projects, upcoming deadlines, or daily goals after waking up can make them more likely to get done.

3. Visualize Potential Obstacles

Practicing Premeditatio Malorum by visualizing hypothetical adversity can take its power away. Picture future setbacks related to your goals, like a failed pitch meeting, tense conversation, or broken deadline. Imagine the emotions, self-talk, and actions the experience might evoke. Mentally rehearse coping well. Envisioning yourself remaining unflustered makes that response more likely if difficulty arises.

4. Engage in Negative Visualization

The Stoics use negative visualization to appreciate what they have in the present by imagining it taken away in the future. For example, envision your morning routine without hot running water or coffee. Imagine saying goodbye to loved ones as if it was the last time. This prompts us to feel grateful for the basics we take for granted, which cultivates resilience and perspective.

5. Affirm Your Values

Identifying your highest principles and reasons “why” behind goals unleashes motivation and purpose. Review your core values like growth, integrity, care, or creativity. Select the top 2-3 values to keep in focus for the day. Consider specific actions upholding each value you can take later, like speaking honestly, even if awkward, brainstorming novel solutions, or helping struggling team members.

6. Practice Gratitude

Take a few minutes for gratitude reflection by calling to mind people, opportunities, or simple pleasures you feel thankful for today—from having a healthy body to freedom of speech to relationships. This fosters humility and releases you from taking things for granted. Conscious thankfulness also boosts mood and well-being to carry you through your day.

7. Take Time for Reflection & Writing

Journaling first thing in the morning helps process emotions, surface insights, and expand self-understanding. Date a new entry and set a 5-minute timer. Write freely about goals, recent interactions, plans, or current self-observations without self-judgment. This lays the groundwork for clearer thinking and wiser decisions later on.

8. Focus on What You Can Control

Remind yourself of the Stoic dichotomy of control—we have power over our judgments and actions but not externals like reputation or circumstances. Review your schedule and note areas where you can direct your thoughts and behaviors vs. things outside your sway. Channel energy only into shifting what’s under your control through virtue rather than frustration over an unchangeable past or other people.

9. Prepare for Interactions with Others

Stoics know our impressions and reactions largely shape our experience of events and relationships far more than facts alone. Mentally rehearse upcoming meetings or conversations. Predict emotions that may arise and responses you’d instead make aligned with wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation. This forethought increases self-regulation once with others.

10. Remind Yourself to be Virtuous

The root of the Stoic practice is the development of excellent character through wisdom, justice, courage, and temperance. Select 1-2 virtues to consciously strengthen today. If wisdom, you might carefully evaluate impressions before acting. For justice, you could speak up respectfully against an exclusion at work. With courage, you may finally ask for that promotion. If you have temperance, you might have a moderate desire for fame. Keep these 1-2 virtues at the top of your mind as your day’s touchstones.

Building even parts of this Stoic morning routine equips you to meet daily adversity with emotional resilience, align actions to values, accept what lies beyond your control, and relate to others from a place of virtue.

Case Study: Oliver’s Stoic Morning Routine

Oliver is a 26-year-old marketing manager who has recently been interested in Stoic philosophy. He was drawn to Stoicism after going through a difficult breakup and job loss within a short span last year that left him feeling depressed and aimless.

Looking to regain control and perspective, Oliver came across the ancient wisdom of Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius. He started implementing Stoic principles and morning rituals to build emotional resilience and alignment with deeper values.

Oliver wakes up 30 minutes earlier to focus on critical reflective practices. First, he spends 5-10 minutes in mindfulness meditation, concentrating on his breath and observations non-judgmentally, which grounds him in the present.

He then reviews his goals and values to set daily priorities aligned with personal growth and contributing value in his marketing manager role. To mentally prepare for potential obstacles, Oliver vividly envisions struggling in meetings or botching a presentation and rehearsing, keeping his reactivity and ego in check.

Cultivating Gratitude is also central to Oliver’s morning routine. He starts a journal entry reflecting on people or privileges like health, family, and nature for which he’s thankful rather than taking these things for granted. This, along with negative visualization, heightens my appreciation for the basics of life.

Oliver finds that connecting with his core values around continuous learning, creativity, and community enables him to tap into inner motivation and purpose daily. He reminds himself that while he cannot control external outcomes, he has full agency over his perspectives and responses.

Implementing even parts of the Stoic framework has gradually helped Oliver become more skilled at focusing attention, regulating emotional reactions, overcoming negative thinking through cognitive rehearsal tactics, and aligning actions with his principles.

Key Takeaways

  • Practice attentiveness and awareness of the present moment to start your day grounded and focused.
  • Review your guiding principles and top priorities to direct your actions towards purposeful objectives.
  • Envision potential difficulties ahead of time to inoculate yourself emotionally and rehearse composed responses.
  • Cultivate Gratitude for what you have and imagine life without it to heighten appreciation of basics we often take for granted.
  • Reconnect with your core values to ignite motivation fueled by your most profound reasons “why” behind goals and conduct.
  • Journal thoughts and feelings without judgment to process emotions, gain self-insight, and plan wisely.
  • Discern areas of choice and control versus external factors you cannot influence to focus energy appropriately.
  • Ready yourself for interactions by predicting challenges and preferred virtuous reactions aligned with wisdom, courage, justice, and moderation.
  • Consistently manifest virtues like courage, justice, temperance, and practical wisdom through conscious words and deeds.


Incorporating elements of a Stoic morning routine strengthens emotional regulation to skillfully navigate difficulties while aligning actions with principles, which provides direction and meaning. Regular practice builds proficiency in critical areas like concentrating attention, managing impressions based on reason, overcoming unhealthy judgments through negative visualization, expressing gratitude to avoid entitlement, connecting choices with values for motivation, journaling for self-mastery, distinguishing control from a mere preference for stability, readying virtue-based responses to maintain composure, and embodying ideals like courage, temperance, and justice through wise thinking and conduct. Together, these routines cultivate resilience and character.