Turning Obstacles into Opportunity: The Stoic Lawyer

One of the ways I stay sane in the often insane world of family law is by studying Stoic philosophy daily. I was exposed to stoicism by reading Ryan Holiday’s great book, “The Obstacle is the Opportunity,” which is an extended essay on historical figures’ reliance on Stoic principles to overcome adversity. I highly recommend it. After reading Ryan’s book, I subscribed to the dailystoic blog (dailystoic.com) and bought several books on stoicism. The core tenet of stoicism is that we need to determine what is within our control and what is outside of our control. As it turns out the only thing that is really in our control is our attitude or how we perceive something. Everything else is largely outside of our control or influence. Why get upset if something is not in our control? We get a bad ruling or someone needs a continuance is not a reason to become dispirited. Consider what possible benefits may result. The Stoics believed the world was fluid and today’s tragedy will evolve into tomorrow’s triumph and today’s triumph will become tomorrow’s tragedy. So don’t get crazy with the daily turbulence. Embrace it and look at the big picture. More to come.

Some reading recommendations:

  1. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I like the translation by Scot and David hicks called “The Emporer’s Handbook.” Marcus was a Roman Emperor in addition to being a philosopher.
  2. Discourse of Epictetus. A former Greek slave who became renowned as a teacher of stoicism
  3. The Tao of Seneca. (Tim Ferris editor) Seneca was the pupil and victim of Nero. One of the wealthiest men in Rome at the time, he was also a playwright and philosopher.
  4. The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman. Daily meditations based on stoic philosophy.

This ancient and practical wisdom is a great buffer for people confronting regular conflict and difficult challenges. I strongly recommend embracing this wisdom from ancient Rome.