Willian Molinari's Reviews > A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine
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it was amazing
bookshelves: audio, non-fiction

Great book if you're curious about stoicism and its practices. After reading this I found that I'm practicing many techniques of stoicism for many years without knowing it.

The book starts with the history of stoicism, the first stoics, and the context of their time. The beginning is not pragmatic as I was expecting but when I finished the book, I decided it was a good thing.

After that the author explores the main ideas of stoicism one by one, using many references from important stoics of the past, and adding his own techniques and ideas.

In the end, he mentions all his references and recommends further reading. It's a solid book, IMO.

Here are some of my notes:

* What is your ultimate goal in life? Think about it so you can plan and avoid life distractions to reach it
* Stoics do not eliminate the feelings, just the bad feelings
* Whatever philosophy of life one chooses, he will probably live a better life than using no philosophy at all
* Zeno was the first stoic
* The students of Zeno were known as Zenoians but they as Zeno gave his lectures at the Stoa Poikile, they became known as stoics
* Zeno's students could detect the fallacies committed and then win the argument with logic
* Virtue is based on one's excellence as a human being. How well he develops what humans were designed to do
* According to Zeno, we were designed to be reasonable
* How do we convince ourselves we want the things we already have? (Just like the Buddha discourse about desire)
* Negative visualization. When you visualize losing something. We should live every day as it is the last day in a sense that makes us be more loveable and enjoy things and people.
* hedonic adaption. What makes us adapt to what we have and don't give much value to it
You should live today as it was the last day. You should not change your activities but your mindset regarding today.
* When you don't realize you have everything you once dreamed of, you start being satisfied with life instead of always looking for satisfaction (and never reaching it)
* Practicing negative visualization prepares you for the changes in the world you live
* A father who practicing negative visualization with losing their children will feel grief but not guilty if the child dies. Fathers who not practice will always think about the things he should have done with the child
* If you consider something to be the last time you're doing, it will become an extraordinary event. It's like the last meal in a restaurant about to close forever or the last kiss with a lover moving to a different part of the globe indefinitely (side note: it's also referenced in When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing)
* The trichotomy of control. Things we have complete control, things we have some control, and things we have no control.
* We have complete control over how to set our values and goals.
* We have some control on how to complete our goals and live by our values, but it doesn't depend on us only.
* We have no control if the sun will rise tomorrow. You should not spend time or energy on it because it will not change the outcome.
* You should internalize goals you don't have complete control. Instead of setting a goal to win a tennis match, you should set a goal to do your best in training and during the match.
* Be fatalistic about the past, you can't change it and should not spend time and energy thinking about"what ifs". Learn from it and let it go
* Seneca recommends to sometimes live as if something bad happened. Instead of just thinking about how it would be if you lose your wealth, your should practice poverty once in a while.
* In many cases, we work hard to acquire something we think we would be miserable without it. The truth is that you can live well without it but you will never you without actually experiencing it
* Embrace the discomfort so you can enjoy the comfort and be prepared for when bad things happen
* When you're ready to feel discomfort, you will not feel anxious if the future may bring bad things for you because you are ready for it
* If we don't practice self-control we end up being a slave of what the life offers and get away from completing our goals
* Be selective with those you choose to be your friends. Time spent with dirty people tends to make you dirty as well
* In social interactions avoid people who talk about gambling, drinking, and other people. If you find yourself in such situation, change the subject of the conversation because these subjects don't help you on anything
* Auto-control should also be exercised regarding sex. Especially for young people who may have a big change in their lifes if they can't control sex and have babies. That may be in a way of their dreams and accomplishments.
* To help with sex desire, try to see the relative other as pieces, not a whole. Think about him/her as a set of lungs, arms, tears, etc
* Insults from random people should be considered as the bark of a dog. We may add a note that that dog doesn't like us, but should not be upset thinking about why that dog doesn't like us
* If someone insults you saying you are bald, skinny, fat, etc. and it's true, just think about it as an honest opinion and ignore it
* If something external affects your values, you should probably rethink them in order to get full control of your feelings
* The best way to reply to an insult is with humor
* To protect minorities from insults only makes them more sensitive to it
* Reply to insults with self-deprecating humor is even more effective. If someone insults you, you may say that if he was good at insults, he would use this other form that is even better
* Retrospective negative visualization. When you imagine that something never existed and think about how good it was because it actually existed
* Grief is a negative emotion and we should avoid it. If a friend is grieving, we should help him overcome that
* Don't be corrupted by pleasure, things are not hard, we are soft. Exercise discomfort
* Our internal state resembles the external state. If you want to be better (not angry) change your external first (laugh, decrease your voice, etc)
* Why experience anti-joy (anger) when you can experience joy? Control your anger.
* If we seek social status, we give people power over us. We have to do things calculated so they can approve our actions
* If we make our goal to please others, we will not be free to please ourselves
* To tell someone you don't care about what he thinks is probably the biggest insult you can inflict (personal note: I said that many times, if you're reading this and remembers me saying that to you, I'm sorry)
* The goal is to be indifferent to other people's opinions on us (good and bad opinions)
* Happiness depends more on people's values than where they reside (talking about exile)
* Many stoics committed suicide. It usually happened when they had no more obligation and death was near
* Is a life which you're not ready to die for worth living? -- stoics
* Stoics usually get many political enemies because they don't fear death nor exile and they consider their social duty to fight those battles
* To acquire tranquility, it would be better if instead of working hard to become wealthy we train ourselves to become happy with what we have. Instead of seeking fame, we overcame our crave to the admiration of others. Instead of trying to become popular we improve our relationship with true friends
* Stoics usually enjoy things that can't be taken from them, like their character
* Stoics enjoy simple things and do not attach themselves to "the best things" out there
* Stoics don't consider good for people to consider themselves as "victims of society". If you consider yourself a victim, you will not live a good life.
* The first step to make a good society is to teach people to not depend on external factors to living a good life
* When you have a desire and satisfy it, a new desire will come. You will never be satisfied following this strategy. Instead of doing this, you should master desire and be satisfied with what you already have
* One of the main sources of human unhappiness is our tendency to worry about things beyond our control
* You should think about the past and the present, and learn from it, but without "what if"s
* When challenging yourself to do things that cause fear or discomfort, you're challenging your other self, who is in evolution auto-pilot, always looking for pleasure and has zero self-control. He is not your friend
* You should confront your other self to gain self-discipline. Self-discipline is important because those who possess it have the ability to do what they want with their life
* "I want so few of the things money can buy" -- the author of the book (and myself)
* When I go to the mall I don't buy things, instead I'm astonished by the number of things for sale that I don't need or couldn't even imagine myself wanting
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Reading Progress

April 9, 2018 – Started Reading
April 9, 2018 – Shelved
April 9, 2018 – Shelved as: audio
April 9, 2018 – Shelved as: non-fiction
April 10, 2018 –
April 12, 2018 –
April 13, 2018 –
April 14, 2018 –
April 17, 2018 – Finished Reading

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