personal mantra is an affirmation to motivate and inspire you to be your best self. It is typically a positive phrase or statement that you use to affirm the way you want to live your life. … The true value of a mantra comes when it is audible, visible, and/or in your thoughts.

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We should always be looking for mantras and epigrams. Ideas that are true and applicable in every situation, to every generation, across all time. The Stoics had more than a few they liked:

“Character is fate,” which came to them from Heraclitus.

“Life is only perception,” which Marcus Aurelius got from Democritus.

“You become what you give your attention to,” which Epictetus wrote.

Even memento mori and amor fati are short little reminders of concepts we should never forget. Lincoln was fond of the expression, “And this too shall pass,” which undoubtedly helped him through the depths of all the crises he faced.

Here are three others worth keeping at hand:

The obstacle is the waythere is nothing so bad that we can’t make some good out of it. We can treat every problem as an opportunity to practice virtue.

Ego is the enemyno problem is ever solved by introducing ego. Pride makes us complacent and intolerable and ignorant; for we cannot learn that which we think we already know.

Stillness is the key—you can speed up by slowing down. People can only focus, be happy, and see clearly when they get rid of franticness and passions and get to that state of ataraxia that the Stoics talked about.

What’s in the way is the way. Improve yourself by thinking of yourself less. Slow down to speed up.

Remember, this philosophy is about taking ideas and applying them to our lives until they turn into muscle memory. Repeating it enough times to yourself that it becomes part of who you are. That’s what a mantra is—something to come back to, something to lean on in times of trouble and stress. It’s a tool for focus. A way of living.

the obstacle is the way ryan holliday

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