I’ve written several posts about my participation in the Daily Stoic‘s 14-Day Stoic Challenge, and now that it has concluded I have been looking for a way to keep the momentum going. What I have decided to do is to take each of the personal epithets from from Day 4 and each month spend 30 minutes a day on activities to improve on that epithet, with the goal of getting incremental better each day. Since I have committed to 6 epithets, I can spend two months on each if I feel like I have good momentum, or come back and visit it later in the year.
I will detail my approach and results, to the extent they are measurable, here as a mechanism for holding myself accountable.
So then, let’s get to it. For February I have decided to start with Resilient because I see it as helping enable success in improving in all the other epithets. As I wrote in the post for Day 4:
Resilient. This wasn’t one of the first things that came to mind, but I kept seeing it come up in other people’s posts in Slack, and the more I thought about it the more I liked it. It encompasses all the hard work and focus needed to be strong, and healthy, and able to stay in the fight for the long haul. Calm of spirit and mind, while strong of body and will. Lots and lots of training required for this.
Let’s also look at a dictionary definition for Resilient:
(of a person or animal) able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.
Digging into that “able to withstand or recover quickly” connotes to me having the mental and physical strength to deal with hardship, challenging situations, and tasks the require endurance and strength. The word resilient comes from the Latin word of the same spelling meaning “leaping back”, so not just that you can endure, but that you jump back up on your feet, ready to go again.
Physical strength and endurance seems easy to understand, one must possess both the muscle mass for strength that comes from strength conditioning, but also the aerobic conditioning to be able to maintain energetic activity for longer periods of time. Additional, especially in my case this also means getting enough sleep and eating healthy so that you have the energy reserves at the ready.
In terms of mental or psychological resilience, wikipedia defines this as “the ability to successfully cope with a crisis and to return to pre-crisis status quickly. Resilience exists when the person uses ‘mental processes and behaviors in promoting personal assets and protecting self from the potential negative effects of stressors’“
In other words, some of the very same qualities of mind we seek to cultivate as we practice Stoicism – seeing the world clearly, not imbuing events with our own judgements about them, and especially pre-meditatio malorum.
What this means for me in the month of February, is the following:
- More and better quality sleep. I am going to approach this, but working on better night time habits, along with breathing exercises and meditation. (I use the 4-7-8 breathing practice and Headspace, but there other great apps like Calm and Waking Up)
- Substantially limit alcohol consumption (I did sober January easily, but don’t want to be so strict about it)
- Focus on a diet heavy in beans, legumes, vegetables and fruit
- Significantly reduce, or potentially eliminate dairy and red meat
- Exercise 3-4 times a week, with a least a walk on off days
- This will take the form of my new favorite activity – rucking with weight and old fashioned strength training
- Stay hydrated as I believe this is contributing to my elevated blood pressure
- Short full fasts (1-2 days of fasting)
- Read and research the topics of health, diet, sleep, and blood pressure.
I am starting with a number of health concerns, including weight, blood pressure, and insomnia. Beginning to properly address these will create a platform on which to improve the other epithets, so being disciplined this month will be critical.
The metrics I will measure are: weight, blood pressure, and daily compliance to mediation, exercise, and sleep.