What is Surrender According To Ryan Holiday

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What is surrender according to Ryan Holiday 

Ryan Holiday surrender according to stoicism
Image Credit: ryanholiday.net

Ryan Holiday, is an author and public relations strategist known for his books on stoicism, 

He is an advocate of stoic philosophy, and focuses on personal growth, and strategies for overcoming obstacles.

What Is Stoicism?

According to whatisstoicism.com

Stoicism, or Stoic philosophy, is a philosophy of personal ethics and a methodology for seeking practical wisdom in life. A key principle of the ancient Stoics was the belief that we don’t react to events; we react to our judgments about them, and the judgments are up to us. They also advised that we should not worry about things beyond our control as everything in life can be divided into two categories – things that are up to us and things that are not.

Therefore, to Ryan Holiday, surrender is not about giving up or giving in. It is about accepting what is beyond your control and focusing on what you can control. It is about recognizing that you are not the master of the universe, and that there are forces at work that you cannot change.

Surrender, in the Stoic sense, is a form of wisdom. It is the realization that you cannot control everything, and that trying to do so will only lead to frustration and suffering. It is the acceptance of your limitations, and the willingness to work within them.

Holiday writes that “surrender is not about giving up. It’s about giving up the illusion of control. It’s about accepting that you’re not in charge, and that’s okay.” He goes on to say that “surrender is a form of strength. It’s the strength to admit that you’re not perfect, that you don’t have all the answers, and that you need help”.

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However, Stoicism does not involve surrendering to a higher power or deity, God, Infinite intelligence or whatever you prefer to address the creator of life.

Stoicism is a philosophical school of thought that emphasizes personal virtue, self-control, and the acceptance of events beyond one’s control. Stoics typically focus on cultivating inner strength and resilience rather than relying on external forces.

However, there are Stoic teachings that encourage individuals to accept and surrender to the natural order of the universe, often referred to as the “will of nature” or the “will of the gods.” This concept involves recognizing that certain events and circumstances are beyond our control and learning to accept them wholeheartedly.

Stoics advocate focusing on what is within our control—our thoughts, attitudes, and actions—while relinquishing attachment and excessive concern for external outcomes.

This mindset allows individuals to find tranquility and contentment by aligning their intentions and efforts and be in harmony with nature.

Read: Why is it important to focus on the present than the future

Benefits of Surrender

Here are some of the benefits of surrender, according to Ryan Holiday:

  • It reduces stress and anxiety.  When you stop trying to control things that are beyond your control, you free yourself from the stress and anxiety that comes with trying to do the impossible.
  • It allows you to focus on what you can control. When you surrender to what you cannot control, you are able to focus your energy on the things that you can control, such as your thoughts, actions, and reactions.
  • It leads to greater acceptance and resilience. When you accept that things will not always go your way, you are better able to cope with setbacks and disappointments. This leads to greater acceptance and resilience.

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  • It opens you up to new possibilities. When you let go of your attachment to a particular outcome, you are open to new possibilities that may be even better than what you originally wanted.


If you are struggling with stress, anxiety, or a lack of control, I encourage you to consider the practice of surrender. It is a powerful tool that can help you to live a more peaceful and fulfilling life

Read: How to stop being frustrated with yourself

Difference between surrender in Stoicism and Zen Buddhism

While both Stoicism and Zen teachings emphasize surrendering or letting go of certain aspects, there are notable differences in their approaches and underlying philosophies:

Surrender in Stoicism: In Stoicism, surrender is often associated with accepting the natural order of the universe and recognizing the limits of our control. Stoics aim to align their thoughts and actions with the rational and moral structure of the world. The focus is on developing resilience, inner strength, and the ability to navigate life’s challenges.

Surrender in Zen Teachings: In Zen Buddhism, surrender is often referred to as “letting go” or “non-attachment.” Zen emphasizes direct experience and the realization of one’s true nature through meditation and mindfulness practices.

 Surrendering in Zen involves relinquishing attachment to thoughts, desires, and expectations, and embracing the present moment as it is, without judgment or resistance. Zen teachings often emphasize the practice of mindfulness and experiencing reality directly, rather than getting caught up in conceptual thinking.

Philosophical vs. Spiritual Perspectives: Stoicism is primarily a philosophical school of thought, focusing on ethics, virtue, and living a good life. While there can be spiritual aspects to Stoicism, it is not inherently tied to religious or transcendent beliefs. On the other hand, Zen teachings are rooted in Buddhism, which encompasses a spiritual dimension, including beliefs in reincarnation, karma, and the ultimate liberation from suffering.

Rationality vs. Direct Experience: Stoicism places a strong emphasis on reason and rationality, advocating for the cultivation of wisdom and the use of logic to understand and navigate the world. Zen, on the other hand, often encourages a direct experiential understanding of reality, transcending the limitations of conceptual thinking and intellectual analysis.

Read: What is the Fastest Way to Build Rapport?

References about Surrender

Here are some references where Ryan Holiday wrote about surrender:

The Obstacle Is the Way: How to Turn Trials into Triumph (2014): In this book, Holiday discusses the importance of surrender in the context of overcoming obstacles. He writes that “surrender is not about giving up. It’s about giving up the illusion of control. It’s about accepting that you’re not in charge, and that’s okay.”

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living (2016): This book is a collection of Stoic wisdom, organized by day of the year. Holiday includes a number of passages on surrender, including one from Marcus Aurelius that says, “Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.”

Stillness Is the Key: An Ancient Strategy for Modern Life (2019): In this book, Holiday discusses the importance of stillness in the context of living a Stoic life. He writes that “stillness is not about being inactive. It’s about being present and aware. It’s about letting go of the noise and distractions of the world so that you can focus on what’s important.”

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