In ancient Greece, the Spartans were feared.
They were the most formidable warriors in the land, revered for their hard-nosed discipline, military brilliance, and bravery.
The Spartan lifestyle isn’t just one reserved for the battlefield–we can apply it to practically any challenge in our lives and boost our chances of success.
In this article, I’ll go through some of the fundamental Spartan rules that can make you mentally tougher.
It’s time to tap your inner Spartan. Let’s get to it!
1) Embrace discipline
Spartans were not particularly known for lying around all day, binge-watching Love Island while snacking on Doritos.
Modern-day Spartans don’t just coast through the week, doing the bare minimum to get by.
Their lives are dominated by focus, structure, and productivity.
They always have their eyes on the prize, and their day-to-day habits constantly reflect this mentality.
This can mean following a routine: waking up at a certain hour, getting exercise in, eating a balanced meal, and well, getting shit done.
Through discipline, you’ll find meaning.
Take it from American philosopher and educator Mortimer J. Adler: “True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline.”
2) Cultivate resilience
If you want to embody the true Spartan spirit, you have to be resilient.
This means persisting, and not giving up, at the first sight of adversity.
I can’t tell you the amount of people I’ve come across who get so overwhelmed by hardship, that they throw in the towel almost like it’s a reflex.
They’re too lazy and too mentally fragile to try again.
The truly resilient person understands that setbacks are temporary.
They don’t lick their wounds and retreat to a corner.
Instead of feeling discouraged, they use shortcomings as opportunities for growth and development, coming back stronger than ever.
Even when the odds are against them, they don’t often back down.
3) Prioritize physical fitness
In case you haven’t gotten the memo, exercise is good for you in almost every way imaginable.
Physical fitness will enhance your strength, durability, and endurance–key elements when you’re faced with the trenches of life.
Fitness reinforces discipline which, in turn, promotes a sense of confidence and drive.
During the pandemic, I was so caught up with work that I neglected exercise.
For about a year, my life was incredibly sedentary.
I started getting all kinds of aches and pains, from crippling heartburn to piercing migraines.
My ability to work was affected, and over time, I grew depressed.
I finally gathered the resolve to return to the gym.
Within minutes of getting on that treadmill, my troubles seemed to dissipate
And after a few sessions, I felt like my old self again, ailment-free and level-headed.
It was like magic.
Moral of the story? When you’re in a rut, whether mental, emotional, or physical, sweating it out can be deeply beneficial.
4) Practice austerity
We live in a world of distractions, noise, and incessant hysteria.
All day, we’re on our devices.
Our apartments and houses are overflowing with junk we don’t truly need.
We relentlessly consume, which is simply the way we’ve been conditioned.
But the thing is, the more we consume, the more clutter we accumulate. And clutter means stress.
To live like a Spartan means to live an austere and minimalist life.
It means honing in on the essentials, decluttering physically and mentally, and getting rid of whatever else can impede clarity and perspective.
When we simplify our lives, we are in a far better position to focus on the things that matter.
5) Become a team player
To be Spartan is to be part of a community, to be part of something bigger than oneself.
After all, no man (or woman) is an island.
The heights you can reach as a unit almost always greatly exceed what you can do alone.
Camaraderie and building relationships will bring out the best in us.
If you own a business, for instance, you’ll know how crucial the team aspect is to overall success.
You might have the vision or operational abilities, but other people can bring unique skill sets to the table that you can’t.
Once you’re aligned, with high morale and shared purpose, the sky is the limit.
So make it a point to surround yourself with a supportive community–doing so will enhance mental strength, making once unattainable goals well within your grasp.
6) Face your fears head-on
Going to battle is no walk in the park.
But Spartans were always able to excel because rather than avoiding or becoming overwhelmed by fears (or enemies), they confronted them methodically and head-on.
I can’t say for sure, but I’m guessing that despite their prowess, Spartans might have still gotten a little tense before going to war.
Remember, courage is not the absence of fear, courage is acting in spite of it.
Not acting on our fears can be paralyzing–and the fewer risks we’re willing to take, our self-worth and self-belief will invariably regress.
Once you make the shift, once you stop allowing your fears to overcome you, expect to gain confidence and mental fortitude–fuel to empower you to keep moving forward.
7) Cultivate loyalty
Spartans had a clear, defined set of values.
While they were indeed relentless, ruthless warriors, they would not overlook loyalty.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where true loyalty is sparse, where self-interest and gratification take precedence over all else.
Staying loyal isn’t always easy, it takes character and resolve–crucial traits that will make you mentally tougher.
So when in doubt, make it a point to stay loyal to the principles and people who have been by your side in life. It’ll pay off in the end.
8) Set high standards
Don’t settle for mediocrity.
Don’t take shortcuts.
Life is short, so challenge yourself to fulfill your potential.
Once you make this behavior the norm, expect some amazing things to come your way.
Most people are content with merely achieving the mundane, only to regret it when it’s just a bit too late.
Do you think Michael Jordan became the greatest basketball player to ever live through his natural skill? Think again.
Sure, being talented helped, but ultimately, it was his mind-blowing work ethic that propelled him to greatness.
Jordan didn’t even make his high school varsity team.
He could’ve just given up and become an accountant, insurance salesman, or run-of-the-mill athlete, while constantly having to contend with what could have been.
The truth is, most players in the NBA or professional sports will settle.
They’ll make good money, relying on their athleticism to drift through the season.
Like many of the great athletes in history, Jordan excelled because of the high standards he set for himself.
He pushed the boundaries and consistently put in the time and effort to become the best.
Be like Mike.
9) Nurture mental strength
Spartans weren’t just exceptional physical specimens, they were cunning tacticians.
Being mentally tough doesn’t just manifest overnight or after watching a YouTube tutorial video.
You need to actively nurture it through practices like meditation and mindfulness.
When you’re distracted by trivial matters, your ability to effectively accomplish tasks will inevitably be compromised.
As you may have gathered, I used to be a big-time worry wart.
I’d get anxious and overthink everything under the sun, from the illness I had read about on WebMD to whether my girlfriend still loved me.
Rather than work on my situation, I’d just complain to anyone willing to humor me, a demographic that understandably dwindled over time.
I was passive, frequently allowing my intrusive thoughts to dominate and debilitate me.
One day, I decided to give mindfulness a try.
In a nutshell, mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present moment, free from judgment or distraction.
A simple mindfulness activity I’ve found to be effective is mindful breathing, which essentially entails focusing on the sensation of each, individual breath coming in and out of the body.
As you breathe, you acquire an awareness of the present, developing a tolerant attitude toward thoughts and feelings that might surface.
So whenever I feel those nerves creeping in, I start focusing on my breaths.
It’s like a reset button, giving me inner peace and liberating me from negativity.
It may have been long ago, but regardless, Spartans knew how important mental toughness was in pursuit of victory.
According to Sun Tzu, author of Art of War and an ancient military strategist in his own right: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
I couldn’t agree more.
So there you have it: the Spartan life rules that can make you mentally tougher.
In life, real strength is mental.
Anyone can hit the weight room and gain muscle. Mental toughness takes grit.
The items in this article may initially sound daunting, but, trust me, with a bit of effort, you’ll get to where you want to be.
So, keep grinding. Take baby steps. Celebrate milestones.
You’re a few behaviors from becoming a heart-stopping Spartan warrior.
Soon, there will be no stopping you.