We can benefit greatly from observing. 

“Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.” –Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

There is great power in observation. If you take the time to look at the world as an opportunity, that is exactly what you will see. Instead of looking at the world through a “know-it-all” lens, observe your surroundings with a beginner’s mind. When you do this, your entire perspective will change. Harnessing the power of observation can help you determine what to do and not do. When your heads up and the blinders are off, you have a better chance of seeing the path ahead when it comes to your projects and goals. It also enhances your learning. When we observe the environment we’re in, we’re able to gain more hand on knowledge to apply to our lives that will help us perform at a higher level.

Not only should we read purposefully, but we should also apply our knowledge.

“Don’t just say you have read books. Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person. Books are the training waits of the mind. They are very helpful, but it would be a bad mistake to suppose that one had made progress simply by having internalized their contents.” – Epictetus, The Art of Living

Doing a lot of reading on a particular subject will supply a wealthy amount of knowledge that will help you develop a more in-depth awareness, but what really makes this knowledge impactful is when we apply it to our own lives. Reading is a great way to prepare your mind and can even help you avoid poor decision-making, but at the end of it must be the result of some action: a failure, a success or a lesson. The purpose of education is not just to internalize knowledge, but ultimately spark action and facilitate wiser decisions. For example, reading self-help books will make you feel inspired for a change in that moment, but are those same self-help principles guiding you when you’re dealing with a rude customer, an internet troll or an episode of road rage? We should be applying our knowledge in ways that we will help us grow.

We can access the wisdom of those who came before us.

“We like to say that we don’t get to choose our parents, that they were given by chance – yet, we can truly choose whose children we’d like to be.” – Seneca, On the Brevity of Life

Some of us are fortunate enough to have parents who were great mentors and role models, but that isn’t the case for everyone. Maybe your parents were poor role models, or you lacked a great mentor. However, if we choose to, we can easily access the wisdom of those who came before us – those who we aspire to be like. We are blessed to live in a world where some of the greatest men and women in history have recorded their wisdom and folly in books and journals. We owe it not only to ourselves, but also to the people who took the time to record their experiences to try and carry on the traditions and follow their examples.

The way we live our lives and do our work should reflect that principles that we practice. Instead of constantly comparing, criticizing and consuming, focus more on creating, learning and living. The wisdom from the Stoics can help you.