How do you deal with pain? What do you do if you lose everything in life? What should you do if someone is dishonest? If you lived in ancient Rome, you would turn to philosophers for answers. Now, you go to Ryan Holiday.
A lot has changed since then. We no longer have to fear widespread disease, or that war can break out at any moment.
The Western world has never been this safe. And, for the first time in history, we can be whatever we want in life. We have time, resources, and most importantly, access to information.
While the world has become a better place, human behavior hasn’t changed much in the last 2000 years. When you read this:
“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil.”
You could argue that someone wrote this in 2016. That quote is from Marcus Aurelius, who lived from 121–180 AD.
Life is not easy and it comes with challenges. We have to deal with bad people, setbacks, and unwanted situations — and that is exactly why we need people like Ryan Holiday to teach us about resilience.
Ryan Holiday is a college dropout that chose a different path than most of his peers. His education was more like an apprenticeship. He didn’t drop out of college without a reason — he simply had a better opportunity. He had a chance to work with Tucker Max and later Robert Greene, so he took it.
He also wrote several articles a week on his blog that he started in 2006. He did this until 2012 when he published his first book Trust Me I’m Lying.”
In 2014 Ryan introduced us to Stoicism in his book The Obstacle Is The Way. He draws lessons from philosophy and history and presents them in a straightforward way. He gives pragmatic advice that you can apply immediately to your life.
In all his writing you can detect a message that says: If you want to achieve anything in life, you have to do the fucking work. Work on your character. Work on your skills — practice every day.
The Obstacle Is The Way is the first book that I’ve read back to back. Yes, I read the book, thought it was so good that I flipped back to page one and started reading it again.
This is a book that gets better every time you read it. If everyone used the advice from the book, we would all be a lot happier.
Here are 10 quotes from The Obstacle Is The Way that I have applied to my life.
1. “Where the head goes, the body follow. Perception precedes action. Right action follows the right perspective.”
When something happens, you decide what it means. Is it the end? Or the beginning? Is it the worst thing that has ever happened to you? Or is it just a setback? You have the power to choose how you perceive every situation in life.
2. “No thank you, I can’t afford to panic.”
Some things make us emotional, but you have to practice to keep your emotions in control. In every situation, no matter how bad it is, keep calm and try to find a solution. Sometimes the best solution is walking away.
3.”No one is asking you to look at the world through rose-colored glasses.”
See the world for what it is. Not what you want it to be or what it should be.
4. “If you want momentum, you’ll have to create it yourself, right now, by getting up and getting started.”
If you want anything from life, you have to start moving towards it. Only action will bring you closer. Start now, not tomorrow.
5. “It’s okay to be discouraged. It’s not okay to quit.”
Life is competition and if you want to achieve anything in life, you have to work hard for it. When you think: “Life is hard.” Know that it’s supposed to be hard. If you get discouraged, try another angle until you succeed. Every attempt brings you one step closer.
6. “We must be willing to roll the dice and lose. Prepare, at the end of the day, for none of it to work.”
We get disappointed too quickly. The main cause? We often expect things will turn out fine—we have too high expectations. No one can guarantee your success so why not expect to lose? You try with all your effort, it doesn’t work out, you accept it, and move on.
7. “The path of least resistance is a terrible teacher.”
Don’t shy away from difficulty. Are you in a relationship because you fear loneliness? Are you staying at a job that you hate? Don’t do things just because they’re easy. How do you expect to grow?
8. “The world might call you a pessimist. Who cares? It’s far better to seem like a downer than to be blindsided or caught off guard.”
Just expecting to lose is not enough if you want to accomplish something. If you rehearse everything that can go wrong in your mind, you will not be caught by surprise when things actually go wrong. The Stoics called this Premeditatio malorum, which means premeditation of evils.
9. “Don’t waste a second looking back at your expectations. Face forward, and face it with a smug little grin.”
We can’t choose what happens to us, but we decide how to respond. The Stoics said: Amor fati (a love of fate). Don’t just accept what happens to you, but like it too. Everything happens for a reason. It’s all fuel that you can use to move forward. Be grateful for it, it defines you.
10. “The great law of nature is that it never stops. There is no end.”
When you overcome one obstacle, another one waits in the shadows. Life is a process of overcoming obstacles, one after the other. The obstacle becomes the way so you might as well enjoy it.
I’m 100% sure, if you apply one of the above quotes, you’re life will be a little bit better. You don’t have to use everything, just pick one quote, apply it, and see what happens. For me, it changed everything.