Ryan Holiday is a contemporary writer and philosopher who has written extensively on the topic of stoic philosophy. His books, including "The Obstacle is the Way," "Ego is the Enemy," and "Stillness is the Key," all draw heavily on the teachings of ancient stoic philosophers such as Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Seneca.
One of the main themes in Holiday's work is the idea that we should not let external circumstances dictate our emotions or actions. In "The Obstacle is the Way," he cites the example of the ancient Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who faced numerous challenges and setbacks throughout his reign but remained steadfast in his commitment to wisdom and virtue. Aurelius wrote in his famous work "Meditations" that "the impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way."
This idea is at the heart of stoic philosophy, which teaches that we have control over our own thoughts and actions, but not over external events. By focusing on what we can control and accepting what we cannot, we can find peace and contentment in any situation.
Another key concept in Holiday's work is the idea of "eudaimonia," or living a fulfilling and meaningful life. This is closely related to the stoic concept of "virtue," which teaches that the highest good is living a life of moral excellence and integrity. In "Ego is the Enemy," Holiday argues that our ego, or our sense of self-importance, often gets in the way of our ability to live a virtuous life. He cites examples of historical figures such as George Washington and Socrates, who were able to achieve great things despite facing numerous obstacles, because they were able to put their ego aside and focus on what was truly important.
Holiday's work also emphasizes the importance of "stillness," or finding peace and clarity through mindfulness and introspection. In "Stillness is the Key," he argues that in today's fast-paced and hyper-connected world, it is more important than ever to find stillness in order to cultivate wisdom and clarity of mind. He cites the example of the ancient stoic philosopher Epictetus, who believed that by practicing mindfulness and self-control, we can find inner peace and live a more fulfilling life.
Overall, Holiday's work on stoic philosophy is a modern and practical take on the teachings of ancient philosophers such as Marcus Aurelius. While his work draws heavily on the teachings of these ancient figures, he also brings in his own insights and examples to make the philosophy more relevant and accessible to a contemporary audience. His emphasis on the importance of focusing on what we can control, living a virtuous life, and finding stillness in a fast-paced world are all key principles of stoicism that can help us lead a more fulfilling and meaningful life.