Start With Why — My Stoic Musings 020

“Your principles can’t be extinguished unless you snuff out the thoughts that feed them, for it’s continually in your power to reignite…

“Your principles can’t be extinguished unless you snuff out the thoughts that feed them, for it’s continually in your power to reignite new ones… It’s possible to start living again! See things anew as you once did — that is how to restart life!” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 7.2

Life is hard. Some days we feel like we’re at the top of the world because everything goes right. We wake up at the right time without snoozing the alarm 5 times. Every piece of the puzzle falls right in its correct place. And then there are some days which are just the worst. They really push the Murphy’s Law to its limits and everything that could go wrong just goes wrong. And these are the days that really challenge us and not only that, they challenge and question everything about us. Am I doing the right thing in life? Am I moving toward the kind of person I wish to become? Should I be doing that instead of this? Who am I and what is the meaning of life? All these questions pop up in our heads and we feel the weight of the world on our minds. We really start doubting ourselves. Getting out of bed in the morning becomes more and more difficult. Have just a few of such days in a row and we really feel our world collapsing around us. All our habits and thought pillars start to crumble. It is normal to have such days and feel all those overwhelming feelings. The fact that Marcus Aurelius wrote about this in his personal diary must mean that even he must have gone through such days. And from his own experience, he reminds us that we can bring our life back on track if we choose to do so. We can reignite our thoughts and restart our lives. The important thing to remember is that we must have a concrete set of principles that guide us in our life. What gives our life meaning? Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live can bear any how”. Simon Sinek’s first book was literally named, “Start With Why”. The reason to know the why is that it takes our minds on a journey to discover and solidify the principles that would guide us toward our why. The Stoics meditated on their own principles in their journals. And these principles helped them get through the stormy days. So…what is your why?


This article is a part of my Stoic Musings challenge, inspired by the book “The Daily Stoic” by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman, where I take a quote from the book and reflect on it, every day.