Stoicism is an ancient Greek philosophy designed to make the practitioner more resilient, happier, more virtuous, courageous, and wise.
Some of history’s greatest leaders were Stoics: Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, George Washington, Theodore Roosevelst, and more recently, people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Brady, Bill Clinton, and prominent author Ryan Holiday.
The foundation of Stoicism is built on 4 virtues:
Courage – The ability to be brave
Temperance – The ability to practice moderation and self-control
Justice – Always doing what’s right, and dealing fairly with others
Wisdom – Truth and understanding
When practiced, these virtues help us remain focused on what’s truly important in life, and unlock our potential.
I’m a firm believer that if you really want to have an incredible marriage, you will practice the principles of stoicism whether it’s intentional or not.
Today, I’m going to share 10 powerful questions based on the principles of Stoicism that can help you be a better person, and a better partner.
These questions were curated by a Reddit user by the name of DickieBush.
1. How am I complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?
This is a powerful question that, when answered honestly, will expose you to all sorts of uncomfortable truths.
It will help you identify areas of your life where you might be talking the talk… but you’re not walking the walk.
It’s easy to commit to doing something that will make your life better, then fail to do them out of laziness, forgetfulness, procrastination, or avoidance.
When you stop lying to yourself, you can learn a lot about how you can get out of your own way, so you can stop perpetuating your own problems, and live a more fulfilled life.
2. Where am I feeling the Resistance?
The Resistance is a concept introduced in Stephen Pressfield’s book, The War of Art.
What triggers the Resistance? Any time you choose to avoid immediate gratification in favor of pursuing some sort of long-term gains.
You feel the resistance when you put your phone down to clean the house.
Or when you try to turn off your video game so you can go work out.
Or when you try to stop watching YouTube, so you can plan that date night.
The areas where you feel and then succumb to resistance are clues to areas of your life where you can adjust your behavior in order to have the life or relationship you want.
3. What would I do to make today horrible?
This question leverages the Inversion Principle. Avoiding a poor decision is easier than making the right ones.
Instead of thinking of everything I want to accomplish in a day, I think of everything I could do to make today horrible. Then I just avoid doing those things.
4. Where am I making things more complex than they need to be?
It’s human nature to over-analyze our problems and struggles.
Overcomplicating life just creates stress, anxiety, and burnout.
And it keeps us stuck in problems we could easily solve.
Asking yourself this question will help you stay focused on taking action and keep you from getting caught in analysis paralysis.
5. What would this look like if it were easy?
A while back, I interviewed Celeste Davis. In the interview she said, “What if the words ‘I don’t know’ were eliminated from your vocabulary?”
What possibilities would arise for you?
Sometimes we get in our own way by assuming our own problems are above our paygrade.
We get mired in the complexity, and end up feeling defeated and exhausted.
But what if this thing you were facing were easy…
What if you DID know what to do?
How would things be different?
When you give yourself permission to make the answers easy, it’s amazing how many of your problems become solvable… or at the very least, manageable.
6. What if I did the opposite in every area?
Do you ever get stuck in a funk?
Maybe it feels like the routine you have developed just isn’t working for you anymore?
What if you do date night on Monday instead of Friday
What if you start having morning sex instead of nighttime sex?
What if you swap chores? If you normally cook the meals and your partner does the yard… switch it up!
Is our partner the one who always initiates? Why don’t you try being the instigator of affection?
See what happens when you mix things up. You might discover something magical.
7. If I could only work for four hours this week, what would I work on?
Do you glorify busyness?
I know I do.
Sometimes I spend hours “working.” Then, at the end of the day, I try to figure out what I’ve accomplished… and for the life of me, I can’t figure it out.
Same thing often happens in my marriage. My wife and I will spend time together… but it’s not quality time.
We’ve killed so many hours in front of the TV, or sitting on the couch together while both on our phones.
Sure we’re spending time together… but is it quality time?
If you could ONLY see each other for a few minutes every day, how would you want to spend that time together?
How would that time be spent differently than the time you spend together now?
Now… how can you do more of that?
8. How could I achieve my 10-year goals in six months?
This question is so fun to answer.
When you think in extremes, it helps you get away from self-imposed limitations.
The answers might be completely unrealistic. But you’ll be surprised how often some of your ideas are totally doable… or at the very least, they can help accelerate your goals.
Have a desire to pay off your house?
Maybe you want to retire early?
Maybe you want to start your own business together?
Or build up a college fund for your kids?
Get creative. Compound time. See what happens!
9. How would the type of person I want to become handle this?
We all have an ideal we’re striving for.
We know there’s a better version of ourselves trying to get out.
When you ask yourself this question, you get free advice from a better version of you than you are right now.
Sometimes consulting your ideal self when dealing with a conflict, a personal challenge, or a new opportunity will bring out the very best in you right now.
10. What would I do if it was impossible for me to fail?
Fear is paralyzing.
It keeps us from taking action, from taking risks, or from trying something new.
We put limitations on ourselves because we’re afraid we will fail.
When you take the option of failure off the table, it’s amazing how differently you choose to live your life… even if it’s just in theory.
What conversations would you have?
What kind gestures would you make?
What habits would you develop?
What traditions would you implement?
What changes would you make to yourself?
When you take failure off the table, the world becomes your oyster!
I hope these questions spark some ideas of how you could more quickly become the best partner you can be.
Stoicism is an amazing philosophy to live by. If you want to learn more about it, check out my favorite book on modern day stoicism by Ryan Holiday, “The Obstacle Is The Way.”
This post was previously published on Growthmarriage.com.
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