Daily Exercise

This exercise differs from the others in that it’s intended to be practiced repeatedly and frequently throughout the day, applying your skills across a wide range of different situations and activities.  This is designed to help you maintain a more general “Stoic” attitude toward life and build longer-term emotional resilience.

You’re going to try to remind yourself in a fairly rapid and frequent manner, throughout the day, of your Stoic principles.  The idea is to introduce a structured routine that doesn’t take any real time out of your day but will “spread” attention to your Stoic practices throughout as much of your day as possible, ideally developing an attitude of Stoic mindfulness that’s as near-continuous as possible.  A common way to do that is to remind yourself very frequently throughout each day, perhaps during every waking hour, to pause and reflect on your principles or employ some basic psychological practice, such as a mindfulness exercise, for as little as one minute at a time.

[q_question title=”Examples” text=”Here are some examples of ways that you can help yourself to practice very frequently each day:”]

  1. Make a rule that for the next seven days you’re going to try to do your daily exercise at least once during each waking hour of the day.  Check the time frequently and try to make sure you don’t let an hour go by without doing your practice even if it’s just for one minute.  You could set an alarm on your mobile phone to help you remember, for example.
  2. Make a rule that you’re never going to leave a room or begin a new activity or conversation without pausing for at least one minute first to engage in your daily practice.  Alternative cues would be eating, drinking, or using the lavatory – which can be treated as signals to pause beforehand and do your mindfulness practice for at least a minute.  Obviously, that won’t always be possible but you can still try to use this as a reminder to do it as often as seems realistic and practicable.
  3. Create cues or reminders for yourself such as setting an alarm, changing the wallpaper on your computer or mobile device, or even tying a piece of string around your finger.  People often put (software) sticky notes on their computer desktop or real sticky notes around their home and office as reminders.  You may need to change these cues slightly each day so that you don’t become habituated to them through over-exposure, and stop noticing them.

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People often report that it’s easier to do their practice very frequently if they tell themselves something like “Even if it’s just for one minute, I’m going to do this…”  In reality, once you get started, you’ll usually find you naturally spend a little bit longer on your exercises.  People virtually never complain that this takes up too much time in their day, though, as it seldom seems to eat into time spent on other worthwhile activities.

At first, as you’ve already learned, it can take quite a bit of determination to instigate a new pattern of behaviour but it helps to keep telling yourself that it gets easier with practice, which you’re bound to find is the truth.  People normally report that within a few days it starts to feel more “natural” and “automatic” for them to pause frequently and employ their mindfulness practice.

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