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 two weeks 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 by Ryan Holiday
Leo Tolstoy wrote, “There is nothing more important than an example.” An example, he says, leads “us to do good deeds which would be impossible without this example.” When it comes to parenting, who is providing that example? Who are your teachers? Who do you look up to? Who do you keep in mind to guide you?
Ryan Holiday was so desperate for an answer to these questions—for a book of timeless advice for parents to exist—that in early 2019, when his first child was barely three years old and he and his wife Samantha were preparing for their second, he started creating a Tolstoy-like book just to read it. With a few manageable paragraphs per day, it’s useful for even the most sleep-deprived parents.
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 Outdoor Kids in an Inside World , “is that they force kids to reckon with failure and to struggle against their own impatience.” Being cold and wet. Being bored. Being tired. Being quiet. Screwing up ( as the Jimmy Carter story we told a little while back illustrated ). These are things our kids need to experience (not that it has to be hunting and fishing exactly). Getting your kids outdoors and learning skills life will demand from them on a daily basis. To learn more about this book, check out Ryan Holiday’s interview with Steven on the Daily Stoic Podcast .
Letters To My Dad: Write Now. Read Later. Treasure Forever. by Lea Redmond
Within this thoughtful package, you’ll find 12 letters that will bring joy to dad, brimming with cherished memories, appreciations, and aspirations for the times ahead. Each letter begins with a unique prompt like:
From you, I learned the importance of…
One thing I’m glad we share is…
In the future, I hope we…
Every letter also provides a designated space to note the sealing date and the intended opening time (whether it be tomorrow or 20 years from now). By securing the letters with the enclosed stickers, you can present this remarkable time capsule to your dad, a truly remarkable individual in your life.
One of the most common questions we get is: How can I teach my child about Stoicism? First, you have to understand the topic so well that you can explain it to a child. That’s why we first created The Boy Who Would Be King , an illustrated and timeless fable about the journey of a young Marcus Aurelius and how he became one of the wisest and most virtuous leaders in history.
Second, you have to live it, speak it, write it, act it. That’s what parenting is all about—modeling the traits and beliefs we want our kids to embody. So we followed up with The Girl Who Would Be Free , an all-ages fable about the upbringing that helped Epictetus survive slavery and go on to become one of the great philosophers of all time. We tell the story of Epictetus through the lens of a female character in hopes of making the fable slightly more accessible to young girls and women, whose Stoicism is often ignored.
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 Outdoor Kids in an Inside World , “is that they force kids to reckon with failure and to struggle against their own impatience.” Being cold and wet. Being bored. Being tired. Being quiet. Screwing up ( as the Jimmy Carter story we told a little while back illustrated ). These are things our kids need to experience (not that it has to be hunting and fishing exactly). Getting your kids outdoors and learning skills life will demand from them on a daily basis.
The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday
In each of his letters to his friend Lucilius , Seneca would include a quote, something to chew on, a thought to guide the day. “Each day,” he told Lucilius, you should “acquire something that will fortify you against poverty, against death, indeed against other misfortunes, as well.” Just one thing. One nugget. And that’s what most of Seneca’s letters to his friend are about. They have a quote in them. Or a little prescription. Or a story. It’s a wonderful way to practice Stoicism, as well as a bit of advice that has persisted through the centuries. And, with websites, Instagram posts, inspirational posters, tattoos and the like, it has arguably reached its apogee here in the 21st century. It’s why we include at least one quote on every page of The Daily Stoic book (which is also available in a Premium Leather Edition to withstand the test of time). One little thing to make you smarter, wiser, calmer. This is the way to improvement: Incremental, consistent, humble, persistent work.
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 (check out this YouTube video to see the process. We made a video of the whole process, which you can watch 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 gift, a great grad gift, a great coffee table book.
Obstacle is the Way Leather Edition by Ryan Holiday
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 whole point of Stoicism. It’s what you do. It’s who you are. It’s acts of virtue. Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle is the Way is filled with stories and lessons from these types of people. The content inside this leather edition has not changed. It’s the same book beloved by men and women around the world, including NBA legend Chris Bosh , pop star Camila Cabello , PGA Champion Rory McIlroy , radio host Charlamagne Tha God , former U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster , and the coaches and players of winning college and professional sports teams.
The Franklin Barbecue Collection by Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay
Prepare yourself for the ultimate meat-cooking experience with this indispensable collection from renowned barbecue expert and bestselling author Aaron Franklin. Together with James Beard Award-winning coauthor Jordan Mackay, Franklin shares a treasury of invaluable wisdom across two essential books that are destined to revolutionize your culinary pursuits.
The great Hemingway line applies to just about everything: the first draft of everything is shit. Whether it’s writing, building a company, or parenting—this shirt is a tangible reminder to embrace that everything is a continual process of improvement and growth and making changes.
Want something to fidget with so you don’t take your frustration out on your kids? The Glux and Speks fidget toys are perfect! Don’t want a kid’s toy? Try our medallions! They provide a great stress reliever that fits in your pocket, but also come with a great parenting reminder.
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 (which Ryan keeps on his desk) 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.
Continue your nighttime reading without inconveniencing others. Don’t let the lights-out in the bedroom halt your enjoyment! Attach the Clip Block Light to your book and keep reading, all while ensuring the non-readers around you remain undisturbed.
To make things easy, we’ve got all the Painted Porch items in one place. Please place your order by Monday June 8 to ensure enough shipping time.