How to Be a Stoic Book Summary - How to Be a Stoic Book explained in key points
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How to Be a Stoic summary

Massimo Pigliucci

Ancient Wisdom For Modern Living

4.6 (533 ratings)
22 mins

Brief summary

How to Be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci is a practical guide to embracing stoicism as a way of life. It offers insights into how to cultivate wisdom, resilience, and peace of mind amid life's challenges by applying the principles of ancient philosophy to modern times.

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    How to Be a Stoic
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    Stoicism offers a practical and sensible guide to tackling life’s problems and challenges.

    Throughout history, religious leaders, scientists and philosophers have tried to answer the question: how can we live a good life? How should we deal with life’s problems, treat our friends and neighbors, react to adversity and prepare for death?

    One philosophy that can provide some answers is Stoicism, so called because its first followers met beneath the Stoa Poikile, meaning “painted porch,” in ancient Athens.

    Stoicism started in Athens around 300 BCE. It thrived, and in 155 BCE spread to Rome when key Stoic philosophers were sent there as ambassadors. It developed in Rome to such an extent that Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor in the second century CE, was himself a Stoic philosopher.

    Stoicism, however, is often misunderstood. When we say someone is stoical, we imply they are rather passive, tolerating what comes to them without question or emotion.

    But in reality, Stoicism is not at all passive, and it is not about suppressing emotion. It is about what we can do to lead a good life. It concerns itself with three disciplines. Firstly, that of desire, or what we should and should not aim for; secondly, action, or how we should behave; and thirdly, assent – how we should react to situations.

    This might sound a little theoretical. But for the ancient Stoics, their philosophy was explicitly practical.

    Marcus Aurelius, the emperor-philosopher, wrote his most famous work, Meditations, as a personal guide for his own self-improvement.

    One of the most influential of the Stoic philosophers, and a thinker who will often be our guide in these blinks, was Epictetus. A freed former Roman slave with a crippled leg, Epictetus became a teacher of philosophy in the first century. His thinking is recorded in the work called Enchiridion, meaning “Handbook,” which gives us a clue about his practical outlook. As we will see, Epictetus’ discourses were focused not just on the theory of what makes for a good life, but on practical considerations for the day-to-day.

    Let’s dive in and take a look at one of the key Stoic principles.

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    What is How to Be a Stoic about?

    In How to Be a Stoic (2018), philosopher Massimo Pigliucci explores how the ancient philosophy of Stoicism can guide us toward a good life. He shows how Stoicism can help us focus on what we can change, come to peace with the prospect of death and deal with frustrations and problems in everyday life.

    How to Be a Stoic Review

    How to Be a Stoic (2017) by Massimo Pigliucci is an insightful guide to adopting Stoic philosophy in our modern lives. Here's what makes this book worth reading:

    • Packed with practical wisdom, it offers tools to navigate life's challenges, helping readers find serenity amidst chaos.
    • By drawing on ancient Stoic teachings and weaving them into contemporary examples, the book becomes a valuable resource for personal growth.
    • With its thought-provoking ideas about resilience and self-improvement, the book offers a fresh perspective on how to live a meaningful and fulfilling life.

    Best quote from How to Be a Stoic

    We should concern ourselves with what is under our control and handle everything else with equanimity.

    —Massimo Pigliucci
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    Who should read How to Be a Stoic?

    • Anyone interested in philosophy
    • People in search of a better way to live their lives
    • Anyone struggling to come to terms with things beyond their control

    About the Author

    Massimo Pigliucci is a professor of philosophy at CUNY-City College. Formerly a professor of ecology and evolution, he is a former co-host of the popular podcast, Rationally Speaking.

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    How to Be a Stoic FAQs 

    What is the main message of How to Be a Stoic?

    Discover the power of Stoicism and learn how to cultivate resilience and inner peace in the face of challenges with How to Be a Stoic.

    How long does it take to read How to Be a Stoic?

    Reading time for How to Be a Stoic varies. However, you can read the Blinkist summary in just 15 minutes.

    Is How to Be a Stoic a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How to Be a Stoic is a recommended read. It offers practical wisdom for living a more mindful and resilient life.

    Who is the author of How to Be a Stoic?

    The author of How to Be a Stoic is Massimo Pigliucci.

    What to read after How to Be a Stoic?

    If you're wondering what to read next after How to Be a Stoic, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • A Handbook for New Stoics by Massimo Pigliucci and Gregory Lopez
    • How to Think Like a Roman Emperor by Donald Robertson
    • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
    • Lives of the Stoics by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman
    • The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman
    • The Republic by Plato
    • Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
    • The Little Book of Stoicism by Jonas Salzgeber
    • The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
    • The Art of War by Sun Tzu