Robbie Maltby

March 13, 2021


Stoicism has experienced a fairly strong revival over the last 5 years or so.

I'm a big fan.

To me, it's the perfect balance between a faith and a code of ethics.

It's also atheist compatible, as the teachings are logical and grounded in universal human values.

I've dabbled in lots of faiths and spiritualities over the years: Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism - but the Stoic way seems to align for me the most.

[The word Stoicism comes from the Latin word 'stoa', or 'porch' in English, namely the Agora in Athens where people were taught.]

To be a Stoic is to live a 'virtuous' life.

The 4 tenants of Stoicism are:

  • Courage
  • Justice
  • Temperance
  • Wisdom

I like that they're so condensed like this. Easy to remember.


To me, this is all about being unafraid to take action when called upon.

This could be anything from working on a task or project that you really don't enjoy, or running onto a road to save someone.

The key lesson here is that we are creatures of action. If we sit and ruminate on problems, without taking action, we lose the essence of what it means to be human.

To me being courageous therefore means to get up, go to work, and get it done.


Justice is arguably the most important of the stoic virtues as it concerns the treatment of all people.

If we only have courage, and constantly take action without consulting our code of ethics (such as not causing harm to others, or not engaging in unlawful activity) then we would be no better than a fearless but mindless animal.


This is another balancing virtue. It also sits behind courageousness, and reminds us that too much of anything can be toxic. Too much power, too many activities, too much thinking, too much anything. While courageousness gets us going, temperance puts some sensible limits on things.


Wisdom is the hardest virtue to explain.

It's about learning, but it's not about being smart. It's the distillation of all of our experiences and knowledge - beyond facts. To be wise is to know. To know is simply to see things as they are. The wise person doesn't react to drama. They don't overpower people. They don't cause harm. They know these things aren't correct. They just live their life out in accordance with nature.

It's definitely the hardest one to implement, and it can't be hacked. It's just the end result of many years of practice.


Marcus Aurelius is probably the most well known of the ancient Stoics.

This quote, taken from his journal ‘Meditations’ I think sums up Stoicism nicely.

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”


The daily practice detailed in my blog post True Productivity is actually derived from a Stoic teaching.

If you're interested in levelling up even more, check out The Daily Stoic

About Robbie Maltby

Learn more about my work at