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The Stoic Challenge: A Philosopher's Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient Paperback – February 23, 2021
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- Massimo Pigliucci, author of How to Be a Stoic
“Every startup founder knows that startups, no matter how successful they appear from the outside, are actually beset with setbacks. The best founders retain equanimity and energy regardless. This book shows how the philosophy of Stoicism can be directly applied to the process of building companies and making new things in the world.”
- Marc Andreessen, cofounder, Netscape and Andreessen Horowitz
“The Stoic Challenge is a beautifully engaging account of how to approach life with a particular gem of Stoic wisdom as your guide. I can see this book benefitting many people in their daily lives, and I’m sure they’ll go on to recommend it to their friends.”
- Donald Robertson, author of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor
“Irvine is a warm and friendly Stoic, and one of the great guides through the subject. His congenial writing offers strategies for the anxiety-free, supple kind of sturdiness with which we should all be greeting ourselves and the world.”
- Derren Brown, mentalist, illusionist, and author of Happy
“The Stoic Challenge is the ultimate mental fitness program. You’ll whip your fortitude into shape with exercises like negative visualization, reframing, and other Stoic principles and practices that have helped humans lead calmer, happier lives for millennia.”
- David Heinemeier Hansson, coauthor of Rework
“While it’s a commonplace that we can change our minds, this book shows us how we can also reframe our emotions in ways that liberate us from the grip of thoughts and feelings that can keep a good person down. A promising blend of classical Stoicism and trailblazing psychology.”
- Christopher Phillips, author of Socrates Café
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.11 pounds
- Paperback : 192 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0393541495
- ISBN-13 : 978-0393541496
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 8.25 inches
- Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company (February 23, 2021)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #408,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This book is more focused; it shows the reader how to apply Stoic principles to handle setbacks, obstacles, and adversity. Combining real-life examples, Stoic principles, and modern psychology, William B. Irvine demonstrates how Stoic wisdom can help you to not only overcome challenges, but to actively seek them out as ways to build character and fortitude.
Setbacks are inevitable; our reactions to them are not. If we frame life’s challenges in the appropriate way, we can use adversity to become stronger and more resilient. While we often cannot control the setbacks we face, we can view them as tests of our resolve and opportunities to practice the traits we most admire in others—resilience, grit, optimism, strength, and resolve.
Our natural inclinations to setbacks include avoidance, fear, anger, frustration, and blaming. What they all have in common is that they do nothing to advance our goals, and much to diminish our character. The Stoic response to setbacks is one of emotional control and action, of making the best of any situation and building admirable character traits.
Irvine offers several techniques, including anchoring and negative visualization (to cultivate gratitude), framing setbacks as tests or games, intentionally seeking adversity, and using humor to lighten the situation.
Overall, this book is a nice reminder that your emotional response to setbacks, not your outward behavior alone, is what really counts, and that you can reframe your reactions to setbacks so as to largely remove negative emotions from occurring in the first place. You might even find yourself welcoming adversity as an opportunity to demonstrate your resolve or overcome a fear.
Irvine reminds us that the core function of Stoicism has always been to help the practitioner achieve the optimal frame of mind to meet any challenge, and he repeatedly drives home this important point. For those new to Stoicism, this could come as potentially life-changing advice. But for those not new to Stoicism, it will, at most, come as a useful reminder of principles long established.
In essence Stoicism is about changing your perspective. Most of us blame and complain ever time something bad happens to us. Stoics expect bad things to happen because they happen to everyone. They look at those setbacks as opportunities to exercise their creativity and come up with a workaround for their problem. If you get good at doing that, you will enjoy life a lot more. The problem isn't really the setbacks you experience. It's all the negative emotions you experience while you are griping about them. Instead, spend your time and energy working your way out of the problem and you can celebrate your ingenuity instead of moaning about your bad luck. That's this book in a nutshell.
In my opinion, this book is not designed to be your introduction to Stoicism. Rather it is a good reminder of some of the finer points of Stoicism and ways to incorporate those ideas into your daily life.
The book is a quick and easy read. Well written and interesting. Mr. Irvine uses the teachings of Seneca as his primary source but also relies on lessons from Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. He also mentions a few lesser known Stoics.
The main lessons of this book are a couple of exercises or thought processes which will help you better deal with the setbacks and challenges of everyday life.
If you would like to reduce the anxiety, fear, anger and regret in your life, adopting the teachings of the Stoics is one of the more effective ways to accomplish this goal. In my opinion, our capitalistic society has conditioned us to accept a life filled with negative emotions. The Stoics aim is not to achieve material wealth, although some did, but to live a better life.
Lots of good lessons in the book and a couple of original stories/examples of Stoicism in action. Well worth reading.