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How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life

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In the tradition of How to Live and How Proust Can Change Your Life, a philosopher asks how ancient Stoicism can help us flourish today

Whenever we worry about what to eat, how to love, or simply how to be happy, we are worrying about how to lead a good life. No goal is more elusive. In How to Be a Stoic, philosopher Massimo Pigliucci offers Stoicism, the ancient philosophy that inspired the great emperor Marcus Aurelius, as the best way to attain it. Stoicism is a pragmatic philosophy that focuses our attention on what is possible and gives us perspective on what is unimportant. By understanding Stoicism, we can learn to answer crucial questions: Should we get married or divorced? How should we handle our money in a world nearly destroyed by a financial crisis? How can we survive great personal tragedy? Whoever we are, Stoicism has something for us–and How to Be a Stoic is the essential guide.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published May 9, 2017

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About the author

Massimo Pigliucci

64 books893 followers
Massimo Pigliucci is an author, blogger, podcaster, as well as the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York.

His academic work is in evolutionary biology, philosophy of science, the nature of pseudoscience, and practical philosophy. His books include How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life (Basic Books) and Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk (University of Chicago Press).

His new book is The Quest for Character: What the Story of Socrates and Alcibiades Teaches Us about Our Search for Good Leaders (Basic Books). More by Massimo at https://massimopigliucci.org.

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5 stars
3,224 (34%)
4 stars
3,891 (41%)
3 stars
1,778 (19%)
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74 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 937 reviews
Profile Image for Fiona.
828 reviews437 followers
May 25, 2017
Pigliucci could also have subtitled this book A Journey with Epictetus as much of it is written as a conversation between himself and the Greek philosopher. I suppose those with a sound knowledge of philosophy might think of this book as 'pop philosophy' and I suppose in some ways it is. As someone with only a superficial knowledge, it was perfect for me however.

The book discusses the three Stoic displines of desire, action and assent, and the four Stoic virtues: (practical) wisdom, courage, justice and tolerance. Thomas Aquinas adopted these four virtues and added faith, hope and charity. Pigliucci uses Ancient Greek, modern day and personal stories, and humour to explore each of these, firstly quoting what Epictetus had to say, and secondly dissecting his words to provide a modern day understanding of what he meant (as interpreted by the author). He says that Stoics like pithy summaries of their ideas. So do I! To summarise the Stoic template for achieving eudaimonia, or a life worth living, you should

a) (to paraphrase the serenity prayer) know the difference between your internal goals over which you have control and external outcomes over which you may have some influence but have no control.

b) do unto others etc. Treat all humanity equally, i.e. behave towards a complete stranger as if he were your brother. [Ok, maybe not your brother - that's not always the greatest relationship!]

c) hate the sin, not the sinner - bad people do bad things from lack of wisdom / ignorance and should be treated with compassion. That isn't the same as turning the other cheek.

Stoicism teaches people to monitor their own reactions and to reflect critically on how they perceive and interpret the world. One of the most important lessons for me is understanding Epictetus's dichotomy of control. Under our control are our decisions and behaviours. Outwith our control are other people's actions and behaviours and the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Recognising this opens up new ways of dealing with problems that we hadn't thought of before. The behaviour and actions of others, or the circumstances in which you find yourself, may not be in your control but your reactions are. This is a really empowering message. I can take offence and react badly or I can think about the situation rationally and objectively. The ultimate goal is to achieve equanimity. Why make yourself miserable, e.g. sit and fume because someone in the room is getting on your wick, when you can choose not to let it bother you?

The book ends with twelve exercises to help you master the Stoic virtues. Some of them I live by now but have only got to this point through six decades of learning them the hard way, others will require a bit more work! For me, this book offers a very sensible approach to life. One that will result in those that practice the methods living a more fulfilled, calmer, and more balanced life. I've already learned a lot of useful processes from reading it and hope that I can master those that come less naturally to me. Time will tell.

I'd highly recommend this book if you're interested in learning more about Ancient Greek philosophy, and/or Stoicism itself, or are just interested to read about how relevant these ideas are to us today. In case you hadn't worked it out already, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

With thanks to Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,691 followers
August 10, 2019
"Men who made these discoveries before us are not our masters, bur our guides. Truth lies open for all; it has not yet been monopolized."
- Seneca quoted in Pigliucci's 'How to Be a Stoic"


For me the book was a bit too superficial on Stoicism and focused too much on the author's personal journey. In some ways, this book reminds me a bit of Robert Wright's Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment -- EXCEPT I think Wright's analysis and wrting were both better.

It makes me sad because I wanted so much to like this book. My personal philosophy of life seems to swing a bit between the Stoicism of Marcus Aurelius and the Epicureanism of Lucretius. So, perhaps, I'm a Stoic and work and an Epicurean at home. Or, maybe, I'm a Stoic during the day and an Epicurean at night.

Anyway, perhaps the book missed its target with me because I wanted a deeper dive into Stoicism, but paired with a deeper dive into the conflicts between Stocism and Modernity*. My final major critique is, while I enjoyed the major structure/organization of the book. He divides the book into four sections. The first three are the three disciplines of stoicism: 1. Desire, 2. Action, and 3. Assent. In the final and fourth section of the book, Pigliucci gives us a dozen selected spiritual excercises to get the reader started on their way to "becoming a good student of Stoicism" and as "good a person as [the reader] can be." My problem lies in the awkward path Pigliucci uses. He choses Epicetetus to be his Virgil (ok, I'm game), but then literally pretends to be having conversations mid-narrative with Epicetetus..."it was at this point during our conversation that I realized what Epicetetus was telling me had countless applications in my own life." In theory I get what Pigliucci was trying to do, but it came off awkward and a bit forced and kind of silly. At least I'm positive that the three stars aren't going to cause Pigliucci any pain. He's a Stoic. He's got the tools to survive my three-star=slight.

* One fascinating conflict would be Bill Clinton's well-known love of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations. While it is certainly possible that Clinton read(s) Meditations yearly. After eight years as President, Clinton is not the President most would pick to exemplify a modern, stoic philosopher king.
Profile Image for Emma.
976 reviews976 followers
October 17, 2018
It’s taken me a long time to write this review as I hoped to be able to impart some of my own experiences/conclusions about ideas and methods contained within the book. But what i’ve learned is that, while I appreciate the features of Stoicism, i’m so far away from being Stoic that I might as well be an advertisement for how not to do it. The modern idea of stoicism as the endurance of hardship without showing feelings is somewhat applicable, I’m all about that stereotypical English emotional repression, but I’m more than prepared to complain about anything and everything so even that’s pretty much out. In any case, that definition is a long way from the Stoicism examined in the book, of which there are three disciplines (desire, action, assent) and four principles: (practical) wisdom, courage, justice, temperance. The comprehensive presentation developed by Massimo Pugliucci sets out a series of ways of thinking and coping with life that meld ancient ideas with modern society, offering advice that’s genuinely relevant. All joking aside, I felt that I learned something here, not just about how ancient authors approached the question of how we should live, but in how their answers still have something sensible and practical to say to us today.

Massimo Pigliucci formats the book in a Socratic style, presenting the issues through a personal dialogue with Epictetus. It’s bit disquieting in the beginning, but I can see the benefits. It certainly allows for a reflective, approachable conversational style that has a distinctive sense of the author’s individual journey. He likes to do things with a smile, but that doesn’t mean the seriousness suffers. For something that could well be labelled self-help, this has a good deal of history, with primary source evidence throughout. It allows for a layered interpretation, with Epictetus, Cicero, Marcus Aurelius and many others’ own words providing the basis for the discussion, with Pigliucci evaluating their meaning and applying their ideas to the overarching framework of Stoic philosophy. It’s not always an easy read, but as the author takes you through the three main sections he makes sure to show you the value in grounding the discussion in the evidence. That way it’s not just about what people thought, but why and how they came to the conclusions they did, which is then followed up by the ways in which this knowledge can be applied to your own life. As such, the book consistently provides concrete examples of what works and why, even before it reaches the final section of practical exercises. It gives the author's recommendations a validity and rationality that not all books in this genre achieve.

Reading this made me understand why there has been considerable contemporary interest in stoicism, to the extent that there’s now a yearly Stoic week for all those who want to try to live like a Stoic and incorporate the tenets into their daily lives. There are so many websites and online articles that finding information about the philosophy is very simple, but nevertheless this book would be a valuable addition to any search thanks to its depth and accessibility. Above all, it makes you think about your own behaviour and how it is possible to change it for the better, whilst providing an effective resource to which you can return for answers whenever life throws you some new challenge.

ARC via Netgalley
Profile Image for Carrie Poppy.
305 reviews1,090 followers
January 18, 2021
I absolutely loved this book, and found myself reading it in the morning to set my mindset for the day. A great overview of Stoicism, a philosophy I keep accidentally inventing. It's always such a wonderful surprise when you keep having thoughts you can't quite articulate, only to realize someone else has not only given them a fine point, but taken it one step further. There were insights here I will absolutely use in my everyday life, and I reckon I will keep returning to this book. It's pretty marked up with highlights and pen, and I am so glad I read it.
Profile Image for Ross Blocher.
431 reviews1,374 followers
May 12, 2021
In How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life, philosopher Massimo Piggliuci offers a friendly and approachable introduction to (and argument for) the Stoic lifestyle. As with many philosophical terms descending from the Greeks, Stoicism has taken on a colloquial connotation at odds with the original school of thought, with "stoic" connoting suppression of emotions, or having a "stiff upper lip". A Stoic may be mindful of her emotions and reflect on what causes them, but will still have them. Rather, it's a philosophy informed by logic and focused on the practical, with special attention paid to separating what is within one's control from what is beyond one's control.

Pigliucci traces Stoicism's origins from Socrates (the starting point for all schools of philosophy) through Antisthenes's Cynicism (similarly not to be confused with the modern shade of distrustfulness) and through to Zeno of Citium, the father of Stoicism. Each school (including competitors such as Aristotelianism or Epicurianism (not to be confused with Hedonism, itself not to be confused with wanton pleasure-seeking)) were trying to define how to live the best life and how to determine which virtues were supreme. It's hard to take exception to any of these schools on their own terms, and the differentiation seems to come down to how one prioritizes. Who could argue against the Stoic priorities of acceptance, philanthropy and mindfulness? Who would say anything against the virtues of courage, temperance, justice and practical wisdom? As Paul would say later in reference to his fruits of the spirit: "against such things there is no law".

That's a lot about labels, and labels should not be more important than the underlying attitudes they reflect. I've been aware of Massimo Pigliucci for years through his involvement with the Humanist community and appearances on Skeptic podcasts. He still happily wears the title Humanist, but takes exception to the "intolerant anger of the so-called New Atheists", some of whom he calls out by name here. Stoic seems to have taken place of pride as his preferred label, though none of the above are mutually exclusive. I myself, having read the book, would gladly add "Stoic" to many other terms that generally describe me.

Notable Stoics include the brilliant emperor Marcus Aurelius and the philosopher Epictetus. The latter makes frequent, odd appearances throughout the book as a Greek chorus (heh) for Pigliucci to ping for reactions. Usually this manifests in the form of selected quotes, though sometimes Pigliucci role-plays as the philosopher to offer commentary. Another tact is for Pigliucci to offer examples from his own life and share how Stoicism helped him avoid needless worry (such as when he deeply cut his finger and set about getting it repaired without panicking) or improve his dating prospects. One of my favorite revelations was that the famed Serenity Prayer has older, Stoic antecedents. You may be familiar with the popular prayer, passed down from Reinhold Niebuhr and popular in AA meetings: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference." This is pure Stoicism, minus the appeal to God. Epictetus wrote nearly two millennia earlier: "Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. Some things are up to us and some things are not up to us. Our opinions are up to us, and our impulses, desires, aversions—in short, whatever is our own doing. Our bodies are not up to us, nor are our possessions, our reputations, or our public offices, or, that is, whatever is not our own doing."

It's a friendly book, if one clearly written by a philosophy professor. The terminology can get a little dense and the humor is mild, but there's a lot of good, practical wisdom to be had. If you're the highlighting type (and I am, especially reading this as an ebook), there are many passages to save for later reflection. It's also valuable for disentangling the various schools of philosophy and reifying the messages of the Greek names we see often and understand seldom. If you're looking for a little dose of the humanities, this might be just the thing for you.
Profile Image for Lea.
856 reviews178 followers
June 16, 2019
Sadly, this wasn't what I'd hoped it'd be. But it's also not a bad book.

Lately I've become interested in Stoicism. As a philosophy student and later grad student I've always steered away of the classics and the Greeks, as far as that's possible (honestly, I can't remember reading anything else besides Plato's "Republic"). When it comes to ethics I've mostly been into modern anglo-heavy ethics a la Consequentalism and Utilitarianism. So when, a few months ago, I stumbled upon an article about Stoicism and realized it sounded a lot like things I'd learnt in "Cognitive behavioral therapy" I was intrigued. A philosophical underlining of what I already believe to me true and what has helped me tremendously sounded great!

What I did not expect of this book was for it to be academical and go really deep. I knew it's a book written to be understood for anyone, not just people who've already read a lot of philosophy. I'm fine with pop non-fiction books, but then I need them to deliver something else.

From a book called "How to be a stoic" I expected a lot more practical help. What exactly is a Stoic? Why stoicism? A literal How To. Sadly, this wasn't it. The book is kind of messy and all over the place. I learnt some stuff, but it was neither really engaging nor super informative.

Honestly, you probably get a better overview over Stoicism by reading the wikipedia entry. A simple direct explanation like this is hard to find in the book:

"Stoicism is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world. According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to eudaimonia (happiness) for humans is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or fear of pain, by using one's mind to understand the world and to do one's part in nature's plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly."

I also didn't like when the book got more personal. The authors ideas on vegetarianism and his strong dislike for New Atheism, among other things, didn't seem very well-informed, rather bitter and also not, uh, very stoic.

All in all, an okay introduction to Stoicism (I learnt some stuff about Epictetus), but not what I'd hoped for. Hopefully there are better overview books out there. If not, I'll have to bite the bullet and dive straight into the real sources and read the Greeks.
Profile Image for Nikolay.
99 reviews79 followers
January 16, 2020
I hadn’t read about stoicism before, yet, it puts so well in words many of my life philosophies and practices. Especially those hard for me to explain. Like being ready to lose anything or anyone and caring about them at the same time. Or that I don’t have to be a robot to stay calm if events are out of my control.

The idea that living a good life depends on understanding both how the world and human's reasoning work is severely underrepresented in self-help and philosophy literature, I’ve come to it via experience or reading on behavioral psychology. Understanding of how our brains and the world work is the central piece in stoicism and I loved it for that.

I found the book to be a decent introduction to stoicism. Ample historical context led to the main points, explained with philosophical quotes from the original Greek & Roman stoics, their words interpreted to mere mortals language. Every now and then there were personal examples that felt like preaching to the choir – people with different behavior or moral views, may not relate to staying calm amidst military coups or avoiding fine-dining.

The “How To” aspect of the book also deserves some attention, it's in the title, it must be important. I doubt it's humanly possible to effectively explain how to change one's life philosophy in a short book, though Massimo Pigliucci tried. There are some exercises and ideas what to do. They all sound really hard to accomplish for those outside of the already practicing stoics. Of course, I would love to be wrong, let me know if the advice in the book turned you into anything close to a stoic.

“How to Be a Stoic” taught me a bit about stoicism and I will be reading more for sure.
Profile Image for Ramón Nogueras Pérez.
537 reviews247 followers
November 26, 2019
Esta es la mejor introducción, más clara,sencilla y aplicada, a la filosofía más apasionante que existe. Pigliucci es un maestro en el sentido de que es perfectamente capaz de explicar de forma simple lo complejo, sin que deje de ser apasionante y útil.

Hasta hace poco yo hubiera dicho que el Manual de Vida de Epicteto era la mejor introducción al estoicismo, pero ahora tengo un nuevo favorito. Esta es la filosofía más útil, aplicable y eficaz que vamos a encontrar. No hay una introducción mejor.
Profile Image for Donald Robertson.
Author 10 books784 followers
June 27, 2018
Massimo Pigliucci is an important voice in the modern Stoicism movement. Instead of lecturing readers on academic philosophy he’s chosen to provide them with a practical guide to living like a Stoic in the real world. He shows that Stoicism can provide a philosophy of life consistent with a modern scientific worldview, and with atheism or agnosticism as well as different forms of religion. He provides many vivid examples of everyday situations in which Stoic philosophy was found helpful in his own life. He also draws upon many examples from the lives of other individuals to make his point that adopting Stoic attitudes and behaviours can contribute to a more fulfilled and emotionally resilient way of living. For that reason, I think that both newcomers and people who are familiar with the philosophy will potentially obtain something of value from reading this book. The Stoics believed that the wise man is naturally drawn to writing books that help other people and they would surely see How to be a Stoic as a fitting attempt to reprise their timeless wisdom for the 21st century.

Pigliucci concludes by describing a list of a dozen Stoic exercises:

1. Examine your impressions, checking whether they place too much value on external things outside your direct control.
2. Remind yourself of the impermanence of things.
3. The reserve clause, which means adding the caveat “fate permitting” to every planned action.
4. How can I use virtue here and now?
5. Pause and take a deep breath, waiting for strong emotions to abate naturally rather than acting rashly when we’re upset.
6. Other-ize, getting beyond personalization by considering how we’d feel about our misfortunes if they befell another person.
7. Speak little and well – the Stoics were known for speaking “laconically”, like Spartans.
8. Choose your company well.
9. Respond to insults with humour.
10. Don’t speak too much about yourself.
11. Speak without judging, just stick to the facts and remain objective.
12. Reflect on your day, by reviewing events each evening in a constructive and dispassionate manner, looking for areas in which you can improve.

I would suggest some people might benefit from reading these first before starting the book.

Profile Image for Skye Cleary.
Author 7 books65 followers
May 16, 2017
My interview with Massimo about the book is at 3:AM Mag here!
Profile Image for Michal.
186 reviews
May 26, 2017
3.7 stars
It is quite a good book, but with the same breath I want to say "it better be after borrowing so much from its predecessors". I enjoyed particularly the illustrating stories from author's life (although they did not match A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy ) and from lives of modern day Stoics. In terms of clarity of thinking and ability to move beyond just repeating the "wisdom of the ancients", the book definitely lacked compared to A New Stoicism. At last, in terms of practice, the provided suggestions (I am not going to call it descriptions considering how relatively brief it was) cannot compare to Donald J. Robertson's books. Overall, I can see why Massimo wrote the book (it is obviously deeply personal to him, although I am not sure whether he managed to communicate this aspect enough; and teaching others about things he cares about is simply what he does), but I am not sure how much value there is in it for someone who is already familiar with the three authors I mentioned above (especially considering the price).
What I would love to see less of:
- all the endless quotes of the ancients - what is up with that? I mean, sure they are the source of inspiration, but Stoicism is not a religious movement that needs to persuade everyone that sayings of some very old texts have direct implications for modern lives. Hasn't there been quite a bit of development in terms of ethics, psychology etc.? Aren't there better ways to tell the intellectual journey? Why is it so important to make the impression that some long lost ancient wisdom is being revealed?
What I would love to see much more of:
- more integration with current virtue ethics
- more integration with current thinking about human condition
- more integration with current psychology, and not just with superficial understanding of very narrowly cognitivist research. There is a lot of more relevant sources, such as narrative identity research, mindfulness research etc. etc.
- more integration with phenomenological approaches - a large proportion of the book is trying to deal with irrational emotions, coping with difficult situations and with biases. I am sorry, but the outside view approach does not cut it. Experiences of anger, irritation, stress have a very important phenomenological component (that's actually the one most people care about) and related self-knowledge is essential in any long-term effective intervention. The fact that the relevant knowledge does not meet the same rigorous standards as e.g. cognitive research does not mean that it should be ignored and that every practicing Stoic has to start from zero. I mean, it seems more rational to use this knowledge, rather than just personal anecdotes.

p.s. the whole Epictetus as a guide/friend does not work (IMHO) and feels quite artificial. It would have to be integrated into the whole book and not just into some fragments here and there.
Profile Image for Vatsal Khandelwal.
11 reviews30 followers
October 22, 2017
It is not too often that one comes across authors whose chatty and disjointed writing style entirely overpowers the richness of content in their books- rendering the entire reading experience a little mediocre. This book could have been much better if the author avoided the parenthetical examples or atleast thought of better ones. Needless to say, some of the excerpts and discussions were very interesting and I did develop an interest in stoicism. This book can be credited for just that.
Profile Image for Mona Akmal.
74 reviews2 followers
February 24, 2018
The philosophy was interesting, as was the style of writing (philosophy articulation via discourse). I enjoyed learning about the core concepts of Stoicism and will explore them in my personal life. However the religious overtones of many of the stories shared in the book, the “faith” like fervor of it was a little off putting for me
Profile Image for Alberony Martínez.
473 reviews34 followers
September 9, 2020
El estoicismo como corriente filosófica que analiza la felicidad basándose su ideal como una guía para la felicidad y del comportamiento moral, defiende una ética basada en la razón de tal manera que el comportamiento deba fundamentarse en la armonía entre la naturaleza y las necesidades humana. Hablar de estoicismo, es mencionar a su principales figuras: Seneca, Musonio, Epicteto y Marco Aurelio.

Como ser un estoico del escrito Massimo Pigliucci me llego a través de una entrevista en youtuve, que podría verse como un resumen de este libro, y que tras leerlo pude ver la practicidad del mismo, vas mas allá del lado teórico del quehacer estoico. Si bien no es un manual de instrucciones completo sobre "Cómo ser un estoico", la contribución de Pigliucci puede recomendarse como una introducción atractiva, no solo al pensamiento estoico sino también a la ética antigua en su conjunto. Espero que sirva para inspirar y guiar al lector hacia sus propias incursiones en el canon estoico original. Es un libro muy personal, incluida la muerte por cáncer de su madre y su padre, se comparten abiertamente con el lector antes de recontextualizarlos mediante la aplicación de ideas estoicas

Es un libro que como recurso literario, Pigliucci dialoga con los grandes pensadores de la tradición para dejar plantado sus enseñanzas.
Profile Image for Daniel.
173 reviews143 followers
February 15, 2019
I agree with Vatsal Khandelwal that the main problem of this book is that its "chatty and disjointed writing style entirely overpowers the richness of content". I also think that the author is getting a few things pretty wrong, such as what depression is, and too easily dismisses others, such as New Atheism or the environmental case for vegetarianism (which he explains with land requirememts for growing vegetables without considering the much larger footprint of growing animal feed). These aren't really central points, but the way he deals with them makes it difficult for me to trust him on the wisdom and nuance that he writes about so much.
30 reviews
July 27, 2017
So almost all of my reviews are actually of audiobooks, but this one I wanted to make sure I chose the audiobook edition because I think things specific to the audiobook impacted my enjoyment. I honestly found the narrator a bit boring. Like, he detracted from the work.

That said: there are plenty of interesting insights, and things to ponder in here. It's not bad. But it definitely did not speak to me as much as I hoped. No real revelations here.
Profile Image for Neil Browning.
79 reviews1 follower
January 1, 2018
I would compare reading this book to casually conversing with a wise, sincere, extremely well read friend. It’s disorganized and not as brief as it could be, but there are great words of wisdom, explanations and intuitive anecdotes. I especially appreciated the actionable items at the end, and the attempts to interpret ancient teachings into a modern context.
1,290 reviews
February 20, 2018
Even though I agree that there is great wisdom in understanding that worrying about things we cannot control is utterly wasteful, I was left wanting more concrete advice how to avoid it. This book was all over the place, lacking focus, which made it somewhat boring.
Profile Image for Bill Burris.
64 reviews36 followers
August 4, 2020
This book may help you live the good life, or it might get you started on reading philosophy, or both.
Profile Image for Antje.
622 reviews40 followers
August 8, 2021
Mir war kürzlich die Philosophie der Stoiker empfohlen wurden. Und so griff ich aus dem literarischen Dschungel dieses Buch heraus, um einen Einstieg zu finden und über den Stoizismus zu lernen.
Was ich darin überraschend fand, war ein Teil meiner eigenen Lebensgeschichten und etliche Erkenntnisse, bereits selbstgewonnene sowie neue. Abend für Abend las ich Episode für Episode und es wurde inzwischen zu einer Art Bibel für mich.

Pigliucci schildert angelehnt an diversen Textstellen des Epiktets die Lebensweisheit der Stoiker. Parallel dazu lässt er eigene Erfahrungen einfließen und ermöglicht so den Übergang der altgriechischen Denker hinein in die Gegenwart. Die über 2000 Jahre alten Gedanken sind moderner denn je und eine vielversprechende Möglichkeit mit sich selbst und der Welt ins Reine zu kommen.
Profile Image for M.C.
384 reviews70 followers
August 8, 2021
Muy bueno, sobre todo para tiempos difíciles como los que vivimos. Te ayuda a ver la vida de otro modo. Usar la razón, vivir con virtud y excelencia, saber enfrentarse a las dificultades y a la muerte. No nos vamos a convertir en Séneca y Sócrates, pero podemos intentarlo.
Profile Image for Richard Lawrence.
88 reviews12 followers
August 9, 2018
This is a good primer for those interested in Stoicism. There are a number of Stoics, both Greek and Roman, whose writings are available to the modern reader. In this book Pigliucci stresses the writings and thoughts of Epictetus and the reader is introduced to Stoicism through that lens. Had this book been written by, let's say, former President Clinton it would be through the lens of Marcus Aurelius. President Clinton lists "Meditations" as one of his top books to read. As an introduction to Stoicism this book offers the reader two main benefits that other introductory books may not. First, a cogent and thorough history of Stoicism and how it fits into the different threads of Greek philosophy. The historical approach to studying philosophy, especially in the beginning stages, is the method I was schooled in and experience has shown it to be the most fruitful in gaining both a thorough understanding of the subject matter. Pigliucci does this exposition well. The second thing that the author stresses is that Stoicism is first and foremost a practice that one undertakes in order to achieve 'eudaimonia' or the good life. Pigliucci again gives this a very good treatment and I would say work and discipline to achieve the good life is the main thread that knits together the entire book. Wherever he can, Pigliucci uses personal anecdotes to illustrate the point he is making chapter by chapter and how it relates to achieving 'eudaimonia'. By the end of the book you may very well be looking at the world through Stoic lenses and notice the internal changes that this view brings. It did for me and the book has motivated me to explore and practice the disciplines of Stoicism in my daily life. Well worth the read.
Profile Image for Michael Huang.
830 reviews37 followers
Want to read
August 27, 2018
Since ancient times, people have tried to answer the question of how to live a good life. One philosophy that dealt with it is the Stoicism, so called because its first followers met beneath the Stoa Poikile (painted porch) in ancient Athens. It started in 300BCE and spread to Rome c. 155 BCE. Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius is stoic philosopher.

A central principle of stoicism is dichotomy of control, which means make the most of what we can control and accept what we can’t control. Though widely known, this principle is less widely followed.

Stoics taught us that we should pursue moral virtue (instead of wealth, fame, etc.) Four aspects of virtues are identified: temperance, courage, justice, and most importantly, wisdom. Later Thomas Aquinas borrowed these four and added to them Faith, hope, and charity.

Observing and imitating role models is an effective way to lead a good life, Stoic philosopher Seneca used Marcus Cato as a prime example: Cato stood up to Julius Caesar when the latter attempted to secure dictatorial power. Facing defeat, Cato killed himself to prevent being captured as a propaganda victory.

Stoicism can empower us from how to face our mortality to how to handle daily irritations and everything in between. To help you along the way, the author suggests making and keeping true friends. This is the third type of friendship different from friendship of utility (e.g., your barber) and friendship of pleasure (e.g., soccer team mate). Talk more with your friends about the important things in life — having more meaningful conversations in your next dinner party.
Profile Image for Ansell.
117 reviews
March 21, 2018
Really should be called “why you should be a stoic” and unfortunately his ales pitch is ham handed, superficial and boring.
Profile Image for Ricardo Moreno Mauro.
417 reviews21 followers
November 22, 2020
El estoicismo es una forma de vida, una manera de ver el mundo. me interesé por esto como una manera de poder conocerme a mi mismo y enfrentar la vida desde una nueva persoectiva. Este libro recoge la escencia del estoicismo desde uno de sus maestros: Epicteto. Es como si estuviese conversando con el. A través de sus páginas aprenderas como esta filosofía te ayuda como una visión del mundo. Como las cosas externas realmente no las puedes cambiar. Solo tienes acceso a tu manera de ver el mundo, solo eres tu el que pude cambiar.
Es un excelente libro para comenzar a imbuirse en esta fascinante visión del mundo.
Profile Image for Awais Irfan.
35 reviews11 followers
December 27, 2021

What comes to mind when the word Stoic is mentioned?

A straight-backed, emotionless robot, aloof to happiness and tragedy alike, immediately would walk onstage in my mind, every time Stoicism was bandied about. Suppressing emotions, turning a blind eye to the suffering of loved ones, and adopting an ‘it is what it is’ attitude to life, was the impression I had of stoicism; and yet this is the very example Massimo Pigliucci opposes and warns against in his part-autobiographical, part-self-help manual of a book.

How To Be A Stoic is not your typical self help book. Intended as a primer for the aspiring stoic, it introduces the reader to Stoicism’s three key disciplines and their derivative virtues. It is presented as a series of conversations between the author, and one of Stoicism’s more decorated practitioners: Epictetus.

“The Stoics…led them to coin and use a word that is still crucial to our modern vocabulary: Cosmopolitanism, which literally means “being a citizen of the world.” Or as Socrates – arguably the most important influence on all Hellenistic schools of philosophy – put it: “Never… Reply to one who asks your country, ‘I am an Athenian’, or ‘I am a Corinthian,’ but ‘I am a citizen of the universe.’”

This quote sold me. I have always considered myself a ‘world citizen’ and to see this feeling put so eloquently into words; never mind discovering the root behind the notion, was exhilarating.

Each discipline has a dedicated section in this book; and each section tackles the modern application of the virtues encompassed by their respective discipline. For example, the discipline of Action, which is derived from the Ethics branch of philosophy, and applied as justice; elaborates on how stoics approach character and how they behave in demanding situations.

My only gripe was that the book is more a personal story than an objective explanation of stoic philosophy. As a result, the author makes it sound like a preachy self help book. Nevertheless, as an introductory book to the world of stoicism, it does its job; and has opened the door for me to explore more in depth works on the subject.

Profile Image for Dmitry Verkhoturov.
144 reviews16 followers
March 16, 2018
Очень впечатлён, в конце книги есть несколько практических пунктов, как практиковать стоицизм в жизни. Всё, что связано со стоицизмом, я в своей жизни считаю разумным, но не про всё знал, что оно является частью этой философии - странное чувство, когда путь, на котором ты делаешь первые шаги, вливается в дорогу, начало которой лежит в четвёртом веке до нашей эры.
Современный стоицизм - осмысление в разрезе того, что ты разговариваешь о кинозвёздах, а не гладиаторах, и у тебя крадут телефон вмест�� лампы, понятное современному человеку толкование основ стоицизма. Философия требует удивительно мало пояснений для осовременивания, поскольку создавшие её ребята всё уже неплохо продумали.
https://gorky.media/context/pomogi-se... интересная рецензия, дающая неплохое представление о книге.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ulkdj96xku4... 24 стоических упражнения из книги, правда, на английском. Из книги, без описаний, поэтому непонятно:
1. Анализируйте в��ши впечатления
2. Напоминайте себе о бренности вещей
3. Всегда делайте оговорку
4. Как я могу применить добродетель здесь и сейчас?
5. Остановитесь и сделайте глубокий вдох
6. Смотрите на ситуацию со стороны
7. Лучше говорить мало, но по существу
8. Выбирайте правильных друзей
9. Отвечайте на оскорбления с юмором
10. Не говорите много о себе
11. Говорите без осуждения
12. Размышляйте о каждом прошедшем дне
Profile Image for Basile Peeters.
12 reviews1 follower
September 8, 2022
De auteur heeft het de hele tijd over zijn gesprekken met Epictetus maar naar mijn weten is die man al 2000 jaar dood. Bon iemand zei dat dat een “stijlfiguur” was en een metafoor voor de studie van het werk van Epictetus maar dat lijkt mij nogal vergezocht. Volgens mij lijdt Pugliucci aan schizofrenie. Desondanks wel een interessant boek, stoïcisme is echt cool ga er zeker meer over lezen 🌞🦫
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