A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

Category: Christian Living
Author: William B. Irvine
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by boy_named_su   2019-07-21
  1. study Stoicism https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/0195374614 is a good place to start
  2. I find that taking Omega3 (1000mg EPA+DHA) and Vitamin D3 (2000 IU) "soothes the beast" and makes me less emotional and less impulsive
  3. Get your T tested, and do TRT if you're substantially below normal (just enough to get you back to normal)
by boy_named_su   2019-07-21

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy is a good place to start

by boy_named_su   2019-07-21

Roman Stoicism is the answer

Start with https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/0195374614

by chad386   2019-07-21

This is a good book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0195374614/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

There are 5 principles I took from the book and repeat/meditate on them often.

You may already be familiar with them, but I'll list them.


  1. Negative visualization
  2. Trichotomy of control
  3. Be a fatalist in regard to the past and present, but not necessarily the future.
  4. Become an Insult Collector.
  5. Pretend your life is that you are the star of an Absurdist play.


Most of these may not make sense, since I purposely condensed them, not knowing which ones you may be familiar with or not.

I'd like to touch on #2 for your situation. The trichotomy of control says you should do a mental inventory of worries. Everything falls into 1 of 3 categories:

  1. things you have total control over (almost nothing in the world do you ever have total control over)
  2. things you have some or minimal control over (a few things may fall into this category)
  3. things you have zero control over (probably 90%, or almost everything)


The deal with your sister and BIL falls squarely into category 3. Other people's behavior is not something you have ANY control over. While this may seem obvious to most, meditating on this fact can have a calming effect. Knowing there's not anything for you to really do can bring you peace. It makes me think of my dog that's now passed away. He was a blue Doberman and very strong-willed. He also had a ton of anxiety when we got him from the rescue. But with some training and making him realize he WAS NOT the one in control, his behavior improved immensely. Not equating you to a dog! but most of us earth bound creatures experience stress in similar ways.


I would also direct your attention to #3 in the list (fatalism). What's done is done, my man! You've made mistakes, we all have. It is time to forgive yourself. Now this is easier said than done, but again, meditating on this fact can be immensely helpful. Once you truly forgive yourself by realizing the past is over, this situation will bother you (much) less. One problem of our evolution from the great apes was this enormous frontal lobe we developed with the ability to process (and cause) complex emotion. So instead of living in the moment like a happy dog, we are always chained to our past, particularly our past mistakes. The Buddhist concept of mindfulness is an important one, and ties in well with modern Stoicism.

The last thing I would point your attention to is this: it's not people or events that upset us. It's OUR PERCEPTION of said people or events. What it sounds to me is that these are 2 miserable people, since you mentioned the in-fighting amongst themselves, when you are not even a part of the conversation. So if you reframe your perception that these are people that are to be pitied more than anything, and that they are like wounded animals backed into a corner, their behavior starts to make more sense (vs it being senseLESS in your mind up to this point).


Hope I didn't bore you with all this, but I've been through some situations myself and have had to adopt some new techniques. Hope some of it resonates with you; let me know if you have questions.


by ThePeperine   2019-07-21

I've been reading a really good book on Stoicism and Christianity has alot of similarities to Stoicism

namely the idea that we should stop complaining about life and take a look around and appreciate the bounty that is before us.

by phatle   2019-07-12
A good book on Stoic is: https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/0195...

Very easy to read this book and growth mind. There are no abstraction here. Very pragmatics. For those who want to know/understand Stoic. I'm highly recommended.

by elchief   2019-03-31
"In a rich man's house, there is no place to spit but his face"


Stoicism is popular in a variety of communities on reddit, so I bet its popularity in SV is related

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy is an easy introduction to Stoicism


by Persaeus   2018-11-10


is an excellent introduction to stoicism. i got the audio book

by Persaeus   2018-11-10

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy https://toptalkedbooks.com/amzn/0195374614

by boy_named_su   2018-11-10

I recognize it from


by whitepoplar   2018-11-10
A couple things that helped me when I was severely depressed and suicidal:

1) I can kill myself, at any time, if I want to. I'm in control and nobody can take that away. Paradoxically, understanding that made me feel better, because if I know I can do it at any time, why do it now? May as well wait a little while.

2) Make a checklist of essential tasks and get into a habit of doing those things no matter what. Some examples: shower, brush teeth, floss, use mouthwash, clip nails, walk 10k steps, do dishes, make bed etc. Check them off. It doesn't matter what's on the list, but it is important to check off 100% of the items each day. Put every small task you can think of on this list and you'll feel good when you check each of them off.

3) Take a good multivitamin + vitamin D

4) Eat healthier. Fresh steamed spinach and wild salmon always made me feel a little better for whatever reason.

5) Get out of the house! Walk! This is really important.

6) Go to the gym. Aim for at least a couple minutes of sprints per day (I like the rowing machine for this). Sprints are holy time in that suicidal thoughts will completely disappear, if only for those few minutes.

7) Walk through a dangerous part of town. Nothing gets rid of depressive thoughts faster than rising blood pressure and a fast heartbeat.

8) Get rid of as much decision-making as possible in your life. Turn decisions into mechanical rules. e.g. don't think "do i want to brush my teeth today?" You need to brush your teeth in order to cross it off your list.

9) Sleep will naturally improve on its own, over time, if you exercise, move around, and eat healthier, so don't worry if you currently have trouble sleeping.

10) This book is pretty good, but only read after you've eaten healthy, gone outside, and exercised: https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/0195...

What didn't work for me was: thinking about all the people i'd hurt, calling a hotline, any decision-making that wasn't mechanical and required reasoning, insight, or motivation.

If you're suicidal right now, start by putting some shoes on, going outside, and sprinting until you can't breathe anymore. Do this 3 times.

by lutorm   2018-11-10
The thinking expressed echoes many of the themes from my reading of Stoicism, chiefly * learning to appreciate what you have rather than chase something you don't have in the vain hope that it will give you satisfaction. * coming to terms with the fact that there are things you have no control over and not worry about them.

(If you are unfamiliar with Stoicism and would like to learn more, the blog archive at https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/0195...).

by goodroot   2018-01-15
> Knight, who favors the shouty, super-caffeinated tone of a spin-class instructor, calls herself a “bestselling anti-guru.” She is particularly proud of the best-selling part, and it’s easy to see why her approach appeals. The phrase there is nothing wrong with you takes up two full pages of her first chapter.


> Then the book became a best-selling sensation. Brinkmann now lives the life of a successful European public intellectual, appearing on TV and radio and travelling the world to lecture “on the big questions of modern life.”


I agree with the sentiment of the article. I find it interesting from a meta-analytical perspective, too. As the above quotations demonstrate, even when aware of the sinister, deep nature of the hamster wheel, the author perpetuates their own forebodings. The pattern is being unable to see value or usefulness without highlighting the material end; do we want to stoke the fires to encourage more of the same under a different brand?

There's some reference to the Stoics, aye. That's a good place to start. I'd suggest this book: The Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (https://www.amazon.ca/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/01953...)

One of the secrets the Stoics have uncovered, I believe, is to practice will-power so that we can identify and resist craving. Simply saying "stop it", or "re-think the system" undermines the reality that billions upon billions of dollars and our smartest minds are, at this very second, applying our most advanced technologies to further expand this soul-less, insatiable machine which we've created.

by evo_9   2017-12-01
A good summary of my go-to Stoicism book:


The book they are summarizing: A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy:


by jotux   2017-08-20
I think of Meditations like a daily journal or notebook. It's one of the few books I keep around my desk and occasionally just flip to a random page and read. Individual passages have a lot of meaning so often I'll isolate one and really think about it or talk to my wife about it for a while.

In general, though, I agree it's not very organized or easy to read. If you're looking for a better entry into stoicism I'd suggest A Guide to a Good Life[1]. It's a structured overview of stoicism with straight forward advice on actually using stoic ideas in your own life.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/0195...

by DanielBMarkham   2017-08-19
"A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0195374614?ie=UTF8&tag=...

It taught me (reminded me mostly) what kinds of attitudes I have when I am happiest and kicking ass with my projects. Over time I had somehow lost myself. This book helped me get back to the person I liked the most. I think it's also helping me do a lot better on my current startup, so it's not just a touch-feely book, it is having a lot of real, immediate, positive impact, at least to me.

by jotux   2017-08-19
I've never thought of Meditations as religious or non-religious. It's all about really appreciating what you have and understanding the way you feel is derived from your perception of the world. I think that's pretty universal.

If anyone is interested in a more modern introduction to stoicism A Guide to the Good Life is a worthwhile read: https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/0195...

by incision   2017-08-19
Given the criteria, this would come closest:

* A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy -

Honorable Mention:

* Anything You Want -

* On Intelligence -

* Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow -



by PrimaxAUS   2017-08-19

I haven't read it but I hear a lot of good things about 'The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy' .

I mainly read the classics by guys like Marcus Aurelius and Seneca, but I'm sure there are easier digestible stuff out now.

Maybe ask in /r/stoicism.