Counting our blessings


“Do not dream of possession of what you do not have: rather reflect on the greatest blessings in what you do have, and on their account remind yourself how much they would have been missed if they were not there.

“But at the same time you must be careful not to let your pleasure in them habituate you to dependency, to avoid distress if they are sometimes absent.”

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 7, Chapter 27

In this passage, Marcus Aurelius, the renowned Stoic philosopher, Roman emperor, and star of What Would Marcus Do, a much loved segment of Walk the Pod episodes of the past, highlights the importance of acknowledging and appreciating the abundance present in our lives.

It’s all too easy to become fixated on what we lack, and to believe that our happiness and fulfilment depends on obtaining these things. The reality is that once we get to our chosen rainbow uplands, we spot another rainbow upland! Just over the horizon with an extra unicorn!

And immediately, we adjust our happiness downwards to accommodate the JOY we will feel when we reach this new and shiny destination.

But Marcus reminds us that by taking stock of the blessings we already have and cultivating gratitude for them, we can come to appreciate the richness of our lives and find contentment in the present moment.

Perhaps we should scan the horizon only for genuine threat rather than opportunities, and instead pay attention to what’s directly in front of us.

This idea of inner independence is a central tenet in Taoist philosophy, as exemplified in the ancient Chinese text, the I Ching.

I Ching says that true fulfillment comes from within, and encourages detachment from the frustrations of life, alongside the cultivation of inner independence in order to find peace and contentment regardless of external circumstances.

As I explained in today’s episode, I don’t mind if my daily reminders of how to be a happy human in the world are based on a system that taps into the supernatural, IF the advice behind the tarot card, hexagram or tea leaves is sound.

I see these systems, rituals or games more like a trusted friend whose advice I can take or leave. An alternative way of looking at it is as a way to randomise snippets of good advice on subjects that I need reminding of regularly. Such as, for example, not to try to get too much out of a situation, to detach and remember not to strive too much for success.

Simply choose a sound direction, then keep turning up, doing the good work, fighting the good fight and be prepared to seize the moment when those fleeting opportunities come along. And crucially, be prepared to change course when needed, no matter the upheaval required to do so.

Both Stoicism and Taoism advocate for embracing abundance as a means of cultivating inner independence. This is not to say that we should ignore or downplay our struggles, but rather that we should recognise and be grateful for the myriad blessings in our lives, rather than fixating on what we lack.

By following this approach, we can learn to find fulfillment and contentment in the present moment, regardless of external circumstances.

So, how do we go about counting our blessings and cultivating gratitude? Here are a few ideas:

– Take part in GratiTuesday: Take some time once a week to write down a few things you’re grateful for, or voicenote a friend with your GratiTuesday thoughts. These can be as simple as noticing a beautiful sunset, a warm meal, or a good, tipsy laugh with a friend at the end of a long week. Reflecting on these things can help shift the focus to everything that’s provided a little light.

“No matter how vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.”

– Stanley Kubrick

– Practice mindfulness: Pay attention to the present moment and all the good things that are happening. Take a few minutes each day to simply be present and notice the beauty and blessings in your life. Ignore, just for a moment, the cereal strewn around the place or the clothes that have been piling up all week. When the news is bad, look for the helpers, and try to help them.

– Show gratitude: Expressing gratitude to others can not only make them feel good, but it can also help us appreciate the good things in life. Take the time to write a thank-you note, say thank you in person or rugby tackle them to the ground to cover their upturned face with a thousand kisses, if you have consent to do that kind of thing.

– Give back: Helping others can also help us appreciate what we have. Consider volunteering or donating to charity. This series, I’m encouraging everyone to download trundl, the walking app that converts your kms into donations for charities including Dogs for Autism and the Trussell Trust. We hope it will be available outside of the UK before too long.

We have one week to go until the end of Series 33, dear Poddies, and I look forward to completing our topic of abundance.

Of course, I will need regular reminders to flip myself out of scarcity mode, so I dare say we’ll come back to this regularly.

You are warmly invited to join me next Friday evening at 6pm for our end of series wrap party, from 6-7 GMT. Find me in the Discord voice channel, for which you’ll need to join the Walk the Pod lunch time walk club, via


Aurelius, M. (180 AD) Meditations. (Gregory Hays, Trans.) Penguin Classics. (2006)

Phillips, G. D. (2007). Stanley Kubrick: Interviews. University Press of Mississippi.

Walk the Pod S24 E4 | Walk the Pod manifesto – transcript


Hello, and welcome to Walk the Pod, your daily walking show where I take my podcast for a walk because I don’t have a dog. You take 10 minutes out of the day to walk in nature and pay attention to what’s directly in front of you.

My name is Rachel Wheeley, a human in the world trying to figure out how to be. I’m walking a cycle path in SW19, Wimbledon, in the UK as usual and it’s really grey and mis today.

Blankets of cloud in the sky blotting out the sun, as some kids in the Wimbledon Chase Primary School playing field emerge out of a hedge bearing large plastic bags and litter pickers, with which they are cleaning up their environment.

This is the fourth episode of Series 24, Walk the Pod, I’m very excited to be out on the bike track with you as usual. I’ve got Stoics on the Cycle Path for you today. Another reading from Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations. I’ve got, what I can see directly in front of me… all of your favourite features are here! Welcome to Walk the Pod.

The Walk the Pod manifesto

First, I thought I’d read you the Walk the Pod manifesto. This is something that I’ve been noodling with for several series now, but never actually committed to paper. I had a go at committing it to paper a while ago and then lost my nerve and thought ‘Who am I to tell people how to exist in the world?’ But in the end, James Benchseats on the Walk the Pod community message board said, ‘Oh no, I like that. Where’s it gone?’ So I put it back.

And I thought, at the beginning of a new series, close to the beginning of a new series, I should really read it, in order to say, if you’re a new listener to the pod, this is what we are about.

So here goes. A ceremonial reading of the Walk the Pod manifesto. This is essentially how I have chosen to exist. Having done lots of reading of various stoical and other philosophical texts and lots of psychotherapy and thinking about how to be in the world. This is where I’ve got to, so far.

The Manifesto

What I can control is limited to how I act and respond, how I respond to things that happen to me, how I take action to meet my needs, or achieve my goals. To act with self control, and to respond healthily I need high self worth. Or if you like, self respect, or if you like, self esteem.

My self worth is based on how much I love and value myself, not how much value I provide for others, what I produce, or how much others love or value me.

I combine courage with a fierce willingness to refuse to accept shame.

I choose not to build a religion around my flaws, or failures.

I choose goals that work for me that I can find a path towards. Other people’s goals are their own.

I fully explore the potential joys of the person I am and the situation in which I am placed, rather than dreaming about the imagined joys of being somebody else, or being somebody in a situation in which I am not placed.

I choose to prioritise people and relationships that make me feel fulfilled rather than giving my energy towards resentment of outgrown relationships, or trying to impress people who have placed themselves out of my reach.

Now that I love and value myself, I can love and value others.

I abandon my glorious future in order to fully explore the joy of this imperfect day.

I will make time for fun today.

I pay attention to what my mind and body need.

Now, I should really have given those numbers. At the beginning of next series of Walk the Pod, I will read them with numbers, because it’s kind of all mashed together, isn’t it? Just read in a big long stream like that.

So… slightly messed that up. But if there’s one thing that I’ve decided over the course of 24 Series of Walk the Pod, it’s that if something isn’t quite right, I just do it differently next time. I’m not going to re record this bit with numbers. I’m simply going to leave it as it is, and next series when I read the manifesto, well, I’m going to put the numbers in then.

You have to wait a few weeks before you get your improvement on this podcast. That’s just how it works, as the Thameslink steams over the railway bridge. I can see a little black pup on a red lead, frolicking just beyond the railway bridge in the distance over there.

I hope you enjoyed the Walk the Pod manifesto. If you have any thoughts about that, if that made you angry, if that made you sad, if it has made you remember something? Please get in touch and let me know what it was. I’d be fascinated to know. You can contact me at – that’s my email address. You can go to @walkthepod on Instagram. And you can send me a message. Or, if you want to, you can go to and press the button marked ‘Message’ and leave me 59 seconds of your beautiful voice.

Time for Stoics on the Cycle Path

Stoics on the Cycle Path

Today’s Stoics on the Cycle Path comes from Marcus Aurelius. His Meditations were the original Stoic philosophy on Walk the Pod. We used to read from Meditations a lot back in the day. And now that Stoics on the Cycle Path is a broader feature, featuring the works of Seneca and Epictetus and even more far flung Stoic philosophers, such as Joni Mitchell.

Marcus Aurelius remains a major pillar of Stoics on the Cycle Path. And this reading is very interesting, because Marcus Aurelius was not just a Roman philosopher, he was also Emperor just casually, as a side hustle. Emperor of the Roman Empire, as you do. It really annoys me when people are overachievers, like, you’re already the greatest philosopher who’s ever lived Marcus Aurelius, how we also casually emperor, mind you, there’s, um, there’s a certain sense to that if you are emperor of a vast, sprawling and enormously kind of, lively empire, such as the Roman Empire, I mean, presumably you have to be, you have to be of sound mind, you have to be a very good mental health. You have to have a good mindset and a good outlook on the world. Because otherwise, you will simply be swamped by all of the problems that there are in your universe, some of which you are directly responsible for.

So I think Marcus Aurelius was was writing these Meditations to himself in large part in order to help him survive the job of being emperor of the Roman Empire. So that’s why these little mottos and things that he writes down, are so powerful because they are what helped him through one of the toughest jobs in recorded history.

This comes from book six, just like the one I read to you a couple of episodes ago. And this This is Marcus reminding himself not to get too tied up in the ego of being emperor.

This is book six, chapter 30.

Stoics on the Cycle Path: Meditations Book 6, chapter 30

“Take care not to be Caesarified or died in purple. It happens. So keep yourself simple, good, pure, serious, unpretentious, a friend of justice, God fearing, kind, full of affection, strong for your proper work. Strive hard to remain the same man that philosophy wished to make you. Revere the Gods. Look after men. Life is short. The one harvest of existence on Earth is a godly habit of mind and social action.

Always as a pupil of Antoninus: his energy, for all that was done according to reason, his constant, equitability, his piety, his serene expression, his gentleness, his lack of conceit, his drive to take a firm grasp of affairs. How he would never put anything at all aside without first looking closely into it, and understanding it clearly; how he would tolerate those who unfairly blamed him without returning the blame; how he was never rushed in anything. He would not listen to malicious gossip; he was an accurate judge of men’s character and actions; slow to criticise, immune to rumour and suspicion, devoid of pretence how he was content with a little by way of house, bed, dress, food, servants; his love of work, and his stamina.

He was a man to stay at the same task until evening, not even needing to relieve himself except at his usual hour, such was his frugal diet. Constant and fair in his friendships; tolerant of frank opposition to his own views, and delighted to be shown a better way; god-fearing, but not superstitious.

So may your own last hour find you with a conscience as clear as his.”

So Marcus Aurelius there, reminding himself not to get too full of himself as emperor and to and to follow the lead of Antoninus, who was presumably one of his teachers or mentors, I had to look at the beginning of the book to find out exactly who Antoninus was.

Marcus’s last name, he’s Marcus Aurelius, Antoninus, and Antoninus, I think, was his adoptive father. Now, I don’t know huge amount about this. So apologies, Poddies, for not being a font of all knowledge. But I think he’s talking about his adoptive father when he lists all of the good qualities of that man.

And he’s trying to remind themselves to be more like that person. And particularly, he writes in other places, in Meditations about how happy he is to be proved wrong by somebody and how open he is to have other points of view expressed to him.


I hope you enjoyed that edition of Stoics on the Cycle Path. Thank you very much indeed for walking with me today. I feel hugely lucky to have you with me on my walks on the cycle path. These are enormously restorative strolls up and down that I have every day talking to you, Poddies.

So thank you for being with me. Welcome to Hannah, my sister who has just joined the Walk the Pod walking club, and will be making an appearance on the Walk the Pod community message board soon, I expect. If you would like to join you can do so by going to

Someone was asking me, what is a Discord server? And it occurred to me that I should really explain. The Walk the Pod walking club is hosted on something called a Discord server. What is a Discord server? Well, it’s like, it’s like a sort of a forum. It’s like a sort of social media platform, which is just for Walk the Pod members. It’s for walkers all over the world.

So it has channels on it where you can post various messages. It’s like a message board. But just for Walk the Pod. So if you want to find a little space on the internet to post pictures of your favourite clouds, or walking reports or photographs from your daily walks, and chat to people for whom walking is a daily activity that they enjoy. It’s the absolute perfect place to be. if you want to explore that option for your life. One of the books I enjoyed last year was James Clear’s Atomic Habits. And one of the things he says in that book is, if you want to make something a habit, the best way to do that is to immerse yourself with a bunch of people for whom that habit is a daily practice that they that they incorporate into their lives, and for whom that that particular thing is completely normal part of everyday life. So, if daily walking is something you would like to be doing, come and get involved, it will help you to establish it.

And I can also recommend having something like a dog to make it a non negotiable thing that you have to do. I don’t have a dog so I I record this podcast every day and if I don’t record the podcast, then I have a bunch of people on the Walk the Pod community message boards say ‘Oh, where’s the episode today, Rach?’ So it’s not. It’s not like I have an option anymore.

You don’t have to go to quite such extreme measures as that, but the Walk the Pod walking club is a fun place to hang out.

Take care of your beautiful mind.

And I will be back with episode five, our first Friday episode of Series 24 tomorrow.

Listen to this episode–Walk-the-Pod-manifesto-e1e70f1

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Walk the Pod Series 24 Episode 2 – Transcript

WtP S24E2 | Do not fuss


Hello and welcome to Walk the Pod, your daily walking show where I take my podcast for a walk because I don’t have a dog. You take 10 minutes out of the day, to walk in nature and pay attention to what’s directly in front of you. My name is Rachel Wheeley, a podcaster and human in the world trying to figure out how to be. I’m on the cycle path in SW19, Wimbledon, as a cyclist zooms past on the bike track to my left.

Kids are whooping and hollering in the Wimbledon Chase Primary School to my right. And the trees are resplendent above me with their little buds. No leaves, but those little buds promises what’s to come. absolutely delighted to be here walking with you again this lunchtime as a very tall person comes towards me with a tiny baby attached to their chest by means of a sling and somebody behind them pushing a pram.

I’ve got Stoics on the Cycle Path for you today, Poddies. Not Seneca today, but Marcus Aurelius, another wise person who knew how to survive 2022 2000 years ago and will be paying attention to what’s directly in front of us of course, as we always do.

Welcome to Walk the Pod.

Paying attention to what’s directly in front of me

My lovely friend Ariana sent me a message just now saying it’s mild out and it is mild out. So actually, it’s really quite pleasant out here today and can’t see the sun. It’s kind of grey and mis. Or at least it looks grey from inside but it’s actually actually warm. And I can see a tiny speck of blue sky. A little pinhole in the clouds shows me that the blue sky is still up there. And there’s some kids kicking a football around on the field. The Thameslink train is going over the railway bridge in the distance very much business as usual on the cycle path this afternoon.

There are 1000 million scooters parked up just inside the chain link fence in the primary school and walking past a prescription on the floor sure we’ll see what it’s for. I don’t know whether Can you read other people’s prescriptions? I think if they’ve dropped them on the floor you can cite slight dizziness other thing I don’t know.

Stoics on the Cycle Path

We were talking yesterday about friendship. Seneca was advising his friend to be very slow, to make a friend to spend a good while passing judgement on somebody before accepting them as a friend. But then to embrace them wholeheartedly.

And today’s Stoics on the Cycle Path is from Marcus Aurelius. Now another very, very wise person who I’ve often gone to for advice. Marcus Aurelius wrote a book called Meditations, which essentially was him just jotting down things to himself. sayings that he’d heard from other places. Wise mottos he had picked up from around the place and at the beginning of Meditations, he lists all his mentors and people who’ve given him wise advice over the years.

And he just kept writing these things down until you had books and books and books of them. This one is from book six. And it is the 27th entry in book six. He says,

“How cruel it is not to allow people to strive for what seems to them, their interest and advantage. And yet in a way, you are forbidding them to do this. When you fast that they are wrong. They are surely drawn to their own interest in advantage. But it is not actually so well then teach them show them do not fuss.”

And this is a big theme of Marcus’s Meditations, the idea that he should just be a good person. Don’t wang on to other people about how good you are. Or try to try to sort of humble brag your way through life, explaining to people how wise you are just just demonstrate it by being a good person.

And here, I think he’s saying, let other people pursue whatever seems right to them, even if it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to you. And that is pretty good advice, I think because we can expend an enormous amount of energy wondering why other people do and say all the things other people do and say. It’s, ultimately, wasted energy that we’re never gonna get back. best just to think well, different people like different things. Get on with our own lives.

If you have a favourite piece of Stoic philosophy, do share it with me because I’m very happy to share other people’s favourite bits of Stoic philosophy. And let’s see whether we can glean any wisdom together out of it.

You can email: You can go to and press the button marked ‘message.’ And you can leave me 59 seconds of your beautiful voice. You can go to my Instagram @walkthepod you can press the button marked contact. And I was really hoping that will take you to my whatsapp, but apparently it isn’t quite that straightforward.

But see if you can see if you can navigate that. Nigel of Galicia very kindly had a go at that for me yesterday, it doesn’t entirely work. I’m gonna keep working on it, but he’s gonna keep working on it

Daily walking is good for you

it’s nice having a walk. I don’t know whether you’re in the habit of having a daily walk away from your desk at lunchtime. But I highly recommend it. If you’re listening to this podcast while you’re indoors, that is allowed. I’m not going to ban you from listening. But I would much prefer you to use the podcast as an excuse to get out the door at lunchtime have a walk.

Only listen to the podcast while you’re walking and just see what happens. I think you might be surprised by the mental health and physical health benefits of daily walking around your local area particularly if you have some nature around you. And particularly if you have a dog.

I don’t have a dog but I might just take my podcast for walks as if it’s a dog. That’s a normal thing to do. I can see loads of pups in the distance over there. My favourite type of dog little brown dogs are not good at identifying dogs, little brown dogs saying hello to each other.

New kittens on the block

Also, very excitingly, have some kittens, new kittens on my block where I live. So I was watching them this morning. One of them which is white with grey splodges likes to sit under the hedge and watch people walking around. And so it goes and sits in its usual spot every morning and has a good has a good look at everybody whilst keeping nice and safe under the hedge so that was entertaining.

And then of course we also have many squirrels that live where I live so I always have fun watching them as well. I managed to get a picture of one this morning, but it will my lens clips going if you know lens, it’s like Instagram stories, but it’s for Patreon. So, the pod walking club got pictures of the squirrel.

Every squirrel is called Peanut by the way, I don’t know whether you know that. But I’m got the pictures of peanuts this morning. So it’s quite proud to have captured it. One of them is have a picture of a squirrel the other one is a half a squirrel as it leapt out of the out of the shot as I was trying to take a second picture of it just walking under the railway bridge now as you can probably hear sound changes ever so slightly.

It’s kind of windy today. So if you’re getting a lot of wind noise I apologise why I’m trying to trying to baffle it with my very high tech solution of the cuff of a gardening glove which I’ve cut off the bottom of the said garden glove and have looped over the bottom of my phone in order to create a bit of a baffle from wind noise. This is what this is what 10 years of BBC sound engineering teaches you how to baffle with noise from your podcast. That was not time wasted, was it?


Anyway, listen, I think it’s time I went now I’ve got to go and do a few errands. But um, because I’m not working this week, I’m resting this week. Getting better from the surgery I had a couple of weeks ago. And so I’ve got a few errands to do not actually working afternoon. But thank you for walking with me as ever.

And I am going to be back tomorrow with another daily episode of Walk the Pod. So remember, if you want to take me up on my challenge, to listen to the next episode, on a lunchtime walk, and then you can always report back to me how it went. And one of the ways that I mentioned earlier you can also tweet me @rachelwheeley if you like that sort of thing. So take care of your beautiful mind this afternoon. And I look forward to speaking to you again tomorrow.–Do-not-fuss-e1e3rh0