Hold Up This Kind of Person

Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius’ adopted father and predecessor, was not a Stoic. He didn’t identify as, nor did anyone call him, a philosopher. He left behind no writings. There are no anecdotes of him dropping in on lectures in Greece or studying under some guru.

And yet, of all the people in Marcus’ life, Antoninus was the most Stoic. He was cool under pressure. He quietly went about his business. He was hard-working, self-sufficient, and never got worked up. He was a beloved leader. His mere presence put other people at ease.

As he details in Book 1 of Meditations, Marcus learned how to get the best out of people from Antoninus, how to keep a simple diet, and to serve others. Marcus learned the importance of compassion, self-reliance, taking responsibility, asking questions, surrounding yourself with good people, enjoying things but never overindulging. “Strength, perseverance, self-control,” Marcus writes to close out everything he learned from his step-father, “the mark of a soul in readiness—indomitable.”

Antoninus sounds like quite a person, doesn’t he? Maybe he reminds you of the most Stoic person in your life. A parent, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, who doesn’t actively study Stoicism. That person who has no idea that the things they say are supported by ancient wisdom. That person who innately always grabs the smooth handle, always gives people the benefit of the doubt, always finds a way to turn an obstacle into an opportunity.

Antoninus, like a lot of parents and grandparents—adopted or biological—was what you might call a lower-case stoic: He didn’t know he was practicing philosophy. He just lived it. Which, as we frequently say, is the best way to teach our kids. It’s what we do. It’s who we are. It’s acts of virtue. It’s what Epictetus said: Don’t talk about your philosophy, embody it. It was this that helped Marcus become Marcus Aurelius. All his life, as one biographer put it, Marcus strived to be like Antoninus, holding him up as “the most beautiful model of a perfect life.”

Hold up that person in your life, today and every day. Do as they do. Don’t just talk about Stoicism, embody it. And of course, don’t forget to express your gratitude to them.

It’s fitting that Marcus’ biggest Stoic influence was his step-father because Father’s Day is just 10 days away! The Dads on the Daily Dad team put together a list so that you don’t have to go on a hunt to find a good gift for the Dads in your life.

The Daily Dad: 366 Meditations on Parenting, Love, and Raising Great Kids by Ryan Holiday

In his letters, Seneca writes about the habit of finding one thing each day that makes you smarter, wiser, better. One nugget. One quote. One little prescription. One little piece of advice. And that’s how most of Seneca’s letters close: Here’s a lesson, he says. Here’s one thing.

Obviously that’s the logic behind these daily emails, but it’s also the idea behind The Daily Dad book, which has officially been out for a year, as we celebrated recently. With a few manageable paragraphs per day, it’s full of inspiring quotes and advice useful for even the most sleep-deprived parents who want to raise great kids and love and parent a little better.

Stories of Fatherhood edited by Diana Secker Tesdell

This book gathers more than a century of classic short stories about having, becoming, loving, and losing fathers. Across twenty stories, an array of great writers—ranging from Kafka, Joyce, and Nabokov to Raymond Carver, Harold Brodkey, and Andre Dubus—offers a wonderfully varied assortment of fictional takes on fatherhood from various perspectives.

Key Chain Tape Measure

This handy pocket-sized tool from Toysmith is great for any dad due to its fun and functional nature. Each Key Chain Tape Measure is small and compact, fitting easily in jacket or pants pockets, and it clips onto belt loops and backpacks and can measure both metric and standard.

Right Thing, Right Now: Good Values. Good Character. Good Deeds. by Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday’s newest book on the Stoic virtue of Justice is a playbook to give our kids a better life, not just materially but also spiritually, ethically, and morally, too. It’s full of practical strategies and powerful examples about how to be a bigger person and respond to others, especially our family members, with patience and kindness while also having the strength to stand by our convictions.

The book officially comes out June 11 and if you preorder before then, we have some cool bonuses for you, like a signed page from the manuscript and an exclusive video from Ryan explaining how working on the book changed him as a writer and father. Head here to learn how to receive those and get your copy.

The Cost of These Dreams by Wright Thompson

To say this is an anthology just about sports, while true, is like saying Larry McMurtry’s *Lonesome Dove* (also a great book for dads) is just a book about a cattle drive. Whether it be Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods or Urban Meyer, Wright Thompson strips away the self-serving myths and fantasies to fully reveal his characters—and what drives them—in a way few others can. We’ve written before about his insanely beautiful story in this book about Ted Williams and his daughter, but it also features Thompson’s story about the Masters and his father, which may be even more beautiful (some consider it one of the best sports stories ever).

Outdoor Kids in an Inside World by Steven Rinella

Nobody wants an inside kid—a kid who can’t step away from their screen, who says ew when they see dirt, who doesn’t know how to hold their own on the playground or know a thing about the wonderful world around us. Well, this book is a great resource for parents in the perennial struggle against screens and comfort and everything else. “One of the beauties of hunting and fishing,” Rinella writes in this book, “is that they force kids to reckon with failure and to struggle against their own impatience.”

Tools: The Ultimate Guide to 500+ Tools by Jeff Waldman

If you’ve been to The Painted Porch, you are familiar with Jeff’s handy work because Jeff came out and helped Ryan bring into reality an idea he had: to make it look like a tree was growing out of the floor of the bookstore all the way up and through the ceiling (you can watch a video of the whole process here). Jeff is an incredibly creative and handy person, so it makes sense that he wrote this amazing book about the 5,000 year history of tools. It’s his first book, and it’s spectacular—a really fun book that makes for a great dad gif and a great coffee table book.

Luctor et Emergo and Tempus Fugit Medallions

Our medallions are powerful parenting reminders for you to carry around in your pocket and remember the important things that really matter as a parent.

Our Luctor et Emergo (“I struggle and emerge”) coin reminds you that your child comes with unlimited potential. The key to unlocking it isn’t removing all the hardship. It’s understanding that a child’s life should be good, not easy. And the Tempus Fugit coin reminds us that “All time is quality time.” Even the ordinary moments. Especially the ordinary moments.

Above Ground by Clint Smith

In Clint Smith’s captivating and vibrant new collection, he embarks on a profound exploration of fatherhood, delving into the vast range of emotions it entails and how it has reshaped his perception of the world. Through his poetry, Smith investigates the intricate interplay between personal lineages and historical institutions, shedding light on the profound ways in which our lives are shaped.

Alfred Hitchcock Coffee Mug

For the movie-loving and coffee-drinking father in your life. You can also check out our full coffee mug collection, which includes mugs for Stoics and bibliophiles alike, at the Painted Porch.

Speks Fidget Toys

Fidget toys have become popular to give to kids. It’s a teacher’s worst nightmare—but it keeps their hands busy and pacifies them. But maybe on those tough days when the kids are melting down in the drive-through, it’s you who need pacifying. Behavior is the language of children. They can feel the tension you bring into the room. They know what your angry face looks like, even if you never say a word. Working that tension out on a piece of plastic is always better than on the ones you love.

The Franklin BBQ Collection

From brisket to steak, here’s everything you need to know about meat. This deluxe boxed set from Aaron Franklin, the revered pitmaster behind Austin’s Franklin Barbecue, features exclusive paperback editions of his already iconic books: Franklin Barbecue and Franklin Steak.

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We’re going to tackle all the big themes of our time and of all time: Grit. Resilience. Curiosity. Compassion. Character. Unconditional love. Finding purpose. Dealing with stress. Masculinity. Female empowerment. Loss. Stillness. Truthfulness. Initiative. Creativity. Passion. Family. Fun.

Join Daily Dad now and tap into a community of dads all over the world dedicated to becoming the very best dad they can be. you’ll get a daily meditation on the above themes and more.