Course Notes

Course Notes: 3 Lessons From Ryan Holiday’s Stoicism 101 Course.

Natasha Musa 3 min read
Course Notes: 3 Lessons From Ryan Holiday’s Stoicism 101 Course.
Photo by Giammarco / Unsplash

I am a fan of Ryan Holiday.

I follow him on Twitter and religiously read his newsletter, The Daily Stoic. I have always enjoyed his writing and his use of stories to convey his message. If you are unfamiliar with Ryan Holiday, let me do a brief introduction.

Ryan Holiday is a writer and a media strategist who has been learning, practising and writing about stoicism for more than ten years. He writes and shares his learnings on stoic philosophy on his blog and has authored books such as The Obstacle is the Way, Ego is the Enemy, The Daily Stoic, and Stillness is the Key.

I had always wanted to learn about stoicism, so when I saw Holiday promoting his Stoicism 101 Course: Ancient Philosophy for Your Actual Life on Twitter, I signed up for it.

Stoicism 101: Ancient Philosophy For Your Actual Life: A Quick Review.

Stoicism 101: Ancient Philosophy for Your Actual Life course is perfect for beginners just dipping into the subject.

While the course is excellent for beginners, those familiar with the subject can also find value in the course to reset foundations. As a course participant, I received an email daily for about two weeks. The email covers the basic history and concepts of stoicism. The course also offers 5 Office Hours sessions with Holiday, where we can ask questions for a deeper understanding.

Unfortunately, the live Office Hours sessions were scheduled at 3 am my time, so I could not join most of the sessions. However, recordings of the Office Hours were shared with course members for review at their convenience.

In addition to the daily emails and Office Hours sessions, there is a Slack community channel we can access and connect with other course participants to ask questions and share or discuss ideas on stoicism.

Overall I thought the course was great.

Ryan Holiday's emails were short yet engaging. As I mentioned earlier, Holiday is an exceptional storyteller and tells compelling stories to bring his message across clearly.

The course covered the basics of stoicism, its history, and stories about the stoic philosophers such as Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus, and the Stoic virtues and practices and how we can use them in our life in the modern world.

3 Lessons I Learned From Stoicism 101 Course.

#1: Philosophers are everyday people who face everyday problems just like us.

As the philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal explained, writing some five hundred years ago, “We always picture Plato and Aristotle wearing long academic gowns, but they were ordinary decent people like everyone else, who enjoyed a laugh with their friends.” Pascal took pains to point out that the books they wrote were written for pleasure and enjoyment—they were not stuffy, pretentious documents meant to intimidate people.”

Philosophy is not something you study; it is something you practice. Philosophers seek to live better lives and create a better version of themselves intellectually, morally, and spiritually through knowledge and implementation of that knowledge.

Stoicism can be practised by anyone interested in self-improvement.

#2: Practicing Stoicism Doesn't Mean You Are Emotionless.

A Stoic is not emotionless and does not seek to eliminate emotions but rather regulate them. A Stoic has strong self-awareness, knows how to use their emotions, and is in control.

Ryan quoted Nassim Taleb, who said, "A Stoic is a vibrant, action-oriented, feeling human being who is interested in being a better person and living a better life. Stoicism "is not about turning humans into vegetables," "My idea of the modern stoic sage is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into information, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking."

#3: "Philosophy Offers Counsel" – Seneca.

Our problems are not new.

The context in terms of time may be different, but humans have struggled with the same problems; relationships, dealing with others, health and wellness. Stoicism was designed to help people live life the best way possible, and all we need to do is use their wisdom, principles, and values that have existed for thousands of years to guide how we can be better versions of ourselves.

Stoic wisdom is still relevant and can be used as guidance to manage everyday modern life.

Other Books Recommended By Holiday:

  1. Marcus Aurelius's Meditations
  2. Seneca's Letters from a Stoic
  3. On the Shortness of Life
  4. How to Keep Your Cool
  5. How to Die
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