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Stoicism and the Art of Happiness (Teach Yourself)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  774 ratings  ·  59 reviews
This new guide to finding a happier way of life draws on the ancient wisdom of the stoics to reveal lasting truths and proven strategies for enhanced wellbeing. By learning what stoicism is, you can revolutionise your life, learning how to - properly - 'seize the day', how to cope in the face of adversity, and how to come to terms with whatever situation you're in.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 30th 2013 by Hodder Education (first published January 1st 2013)
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4.12  · 
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 ·  774 ratings  ·  59 reviews

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Michael A
Apr 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Much like William Irvine's book, this book, too, is more of a self-help book than a book on the actual philosophy. Some aspects of Stoicism are covered in synopsis form, but a lot of it is simplified and, even so, a lot of the original Stoic principles leave me a bit baffled. Why is rationality to be so prized? Why are virtue and this exalted sense of "happiness" living in accordance to nature so valuable? Why should anyone take a straw-man concept like the Stoic Sage seriously? These are just a ...more
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent Introduction to Stoicism

I found myself highlighting something almost every page. It took me a few years to read. There is much to contemplate and practice, but even as a beginner it has brought increased peace to my life.

"But all excellent things are as difficult as they are rare." (Spinoza, Ethica, 5.42n)
Aug 12, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: never-finished
This book was so hard to read. It is written from the perspective of picking it up and flipping to any section to read in short bursts. Due to this, it is really repetitive.
Jun 07, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The content seemed very repetitive; that was my primary reaction to this book. I also disagree with much of the advice the book provides. The author makes frequent references to psychology's Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as if that should lend some credibility to this work, but it is my understanding from a couple of therapists that CBT is not for everyone and can be easily misapplied even by therapists who (theoretically) know what they're doing. Hence, CBT is not something to DIY.

The author ad
Chris Paxton
May 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great breakdown:

My only complaint is that the book continually pushed CBT and got more into the modern psychological implications of stoicism than how to actually live the stoic ideal. However, that was only a minor nuisance compared to the overall text and the quality job it did in outlining stoic philosophy. I did find the self examination sections at the beginning of each chapter to be excellent lead ins for the reading. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has experience with sto
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Kind of redundant; I think the book could have been trimmed down to a 1/4 of its current size. The author says things like "The Stoics believed..." but doesn't necessarily give a logical argument for those beliefs.

Overall a good read besides those two things.
Marcus Norberg
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have read the three classic Stoic philosophers (Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Seneca) before this book, but I had not really grasped all the Stoic theories and thoughts. This book really got the Stoic message through. It had a lot of quotations from ancient philosophers aswell as modern uses of the philosophy in life and in therapy. It had stuff I really will consider and use in my everyday life.

Although I really enjoyed the book it was kind of repetitive at times, which made for a slow readi
Henry Manampiring
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A systematic and structured introduction to Stoicism.
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Complete mind opener. Good intro to reading harder books book.
Euan Semple
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent grounding in the ideas of the Stoics. Lots of clear explanation of their ideas and translated into our modern situation. I have also read William Irvine's "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy", which is also worth reading, but a bit more interpretative of the original texts and less practical than this. I am currently reading a lot about Stoic philosophy, along with translations of the original writing by Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius, and finding ...more
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I suffer from anxiety and stumbled across stoicism. This book had a perfect balance of the stoic philosophy and practical exercises that I am starting to embed in my daily routine.
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good explanation if Stoicism

Excellent book. I got this book as an introduction to Stoicism. It has provided a nice modern take on an ancient philosophy.
Nazrul Buang
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Just finished reading 'Teach Yourself Stoicism and the Art of Happiness' (2013) by Donald J. Robertson. I decided to borrow a copy to learn and understand more about Stoicism, the ancient philosophy that is the main opponent of Epicureanism, thus serving as a good contrast book after 'Travels with Epicurus' which I read earlier this year.

Unlike Klein's 'Travels with Epicurus' which reads like a journal/diary, Robertson's 'Teach Yourself Stoicism' reads more like an academic philosophy/self-help
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the BEST overall presentation that I've read so far of stoic principles with practical advice and questions to ponder in order to implement these in one's everyday life. Very well organized by relevant topics. I love the "textbook" approach whereby each chapter starts with a bulleted list of main points, then has "Remember this" boxes to highlight important take-aways and also "Try it now" boxes for useful exercises and techniques. At the end of each chapter there is a clear and concise ...more
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a phenomenal book that can help the reader understand the basis of modern cognitive behavioral therapy. This book serves as an excellent introduction to stoicism and it contrasts this philosophy with primarily Cynicism and Epicureanism. Stoicism as a philosophy seems to adopt an attitude of indifferent humility to most things that are deemed to be valuable in life. It is this attitude that allows Stoics to view tragedy as a temporary moment, allowing one to face it with mental resolutio ...more
The table of content looks structured, but that’s actually not the case when reading. He repeats himself over and over again and gives the same definition over and over again. It quickly becomes very tiresome to read. What he should have done is to have definitions at the back or not define the same thing every other page. In addition he basically shows some excerpts and talks a little bit about another. I would have liked for him to provide structure and overview of stoicism not focus on excerp ...more
Jared Abbott
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
This is an excellent book on the basics of Stoic philosophy, with an emphasis on Stoic practices and exercises. It could be read straight through (this is what I did), but it could easily be used a reference because the structure of the book is so strictly outlined and divided into sections according to the outline. The content was clear and concise, and a reader with little or no previous philosophical knowledge should be able to understand it. This book was really indispensable for a new Stoic ...more
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
After discovering Stoicism and wanting to know more this was the first book I purchased.
If you are after a history of Stoicism, this is unfortunately not the book for you.
It's more a self-help book than anything else. If this is what you are looking for, the books offers exercises at the end of every chapter for the reader to follow. Each chapter leads up to the exercises.
Ive read a couple of self help books an the way this is presented is not my cup of tea.
This is by no means a bad book, not at
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, favorites
This book is a great way to learn about stoicism. The author manages to summarize the important points of the philosophy in an easy-to-digest way so that the modern reader can properly apply it to their lives. It is filled with exercises you can practice, highlights the important ideas for eventual additional readings, and also provides a summary of each chapter if you need a reminder. If I could only recommend one book on stoicism to someone, this is what I would choose.
Carl McCarthy
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great book on how to live Stoicism practically, with lots of thought stimulating exercises to practice along the way. An excellent list of further reading will also be appreciated by anyone wanting to delve deeper. The e-version (I read the hard copy) has an extra appendix on the Stoic contemplation of death. The book will be one I will be happy to go back to in sections, re-read and contemplate further.
David Wu
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
"The principal task in life is this: distinguish matters and weigh them one against another, and say to yourself, 'Externals are not under my control; volition is under my control. Where am I to look for the good and the evil? Within me, in that which is my own.' But i that which is another's never employ the words 'good' or 'evil', or 'help' or 'harm', or anything of the sort."
- Epictetus, Discourses, 2.5
Zia Okocha
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wanted to give it a 5 but didn’t get the e book and felt a little cheated about Stoic contemplations on death. Still would give this like a 4.5 due to thoroughness and ease of reading. Also gave me a lot more philosophers to read.

I like the connections made between Buddhism and CBT and thing that this is very relevant to today.
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is super hard to read but it pays off. There are sections I skipped because I do not care that much meditations. etc. But overall message is very interesting. I think I will have to re-read it with more focus on some parts.
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Detailed introduction to Stoic concepts and practices. Several aspects are good for study and retention (but will be annoying if you just want an overview): Meditation guides; chapter summaries; case studies; frequent repetition of ideas.
Karl F. Schneider
Interesting format

The author tries hard to weave together the teachings of the Stoics, with summaries and exercises. I think he tries too hard sometimes, but I do find myself coming back to his book for nuggets of wisdom. A good addition to a Stoic library.
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
LOVE. Will reread for sure - 4.5/5
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good book about Stoicism! I recommend it for everyone I know as an introduction to Stoicism as well as to get deeper into the subject.
Jul 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Comprehensive although quite long winded and repetitive
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good introduction to stoicism, probably a book I will go back to again.
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
An excellent book for a starter in stoticism.
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Author of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius. I'm a philosopher and psychotherapist with a special interest in Stoicism and CBT.
“Men are disturbed not by events but by their opinions about them.” 6 likes
“However, the majority of people mistakenly judge external things to be ‘good’ and therefore experience feelings of desire for things beyond their control, leading to frustration and suffering.” 2 likes
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