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How to Be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliuzzi

How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy To Live a Modern Life is a fascinating book that helped me to better understand the stoic philosophy by answering a lot of questions I was thinking about.

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"Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve." What if you read this each time you made a phone call, or texted, or received a call? Imagine the possibilities of auto-suggesting this into your mind hundreds of times per day.

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notes from how to be a stoic

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Some of the chapter topics and beginning quotes for those chapters include:

It's All About Character (And Virtue)

"Of one thing beware, O man: see what is the price at which you sell your will. If you do nothing else, do not sell your will cheap." Epictetus, Discourses

The Role of Role Models

"What would Heracles have been if he had said, "How am I to prevent a big lion from appearing, or a big boar, or brutal men?" What care you, I say? If a big boar appears, you will have a greater struggle to engage in; if evil men appear, you will free the world from evil men." - Epictetus, Discourses

Disability and Mental Illness

"Doing without a wheelchair is not a basic life goal." - Lawrence Becker, video address to Post-Polio Health International

On Death and Suicide

"I must die, must I? If at once, then I am dying: if soon, I dine now, as it is time for dinner, and afterwards when the time comes I will die." Epictetus, Discourses

How to Deal with Anger, Anxiety, and Loneliness

"Wherever I go, there is the sun, there is the moon, there are the stars, dreams, auguries, conversation with the gods." - Epictetus, Discourses


"One of the first lessons from Stoicism, then, is to focus our attention and efforts where we have the most power and then let the universe run as it will. This will save us both a lot of energy and a lot of worry."

"Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. Somethings 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."

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.

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.