When most of us think of philosophy, our eyes glaze over a little and we ask ourselves how it remotely applies to real life.
So when I tell you about a newly released book filled with ancient Stoic wisdom, stay with me.
Not only does it speak directly to the art of living in our times, but I'm convinced that reading it actually makes you smarter.
The book is by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman, The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living.
It represents Holiday and Hanselman's favorite selections gleaned from the late Stoics and those who influenced them and it's a masterpiece.
It's filled with wisdom from the ancient Stoic school of philosophy--whose principles are much richer than the "keep your chin up and don't complain" ideas we associate with it now.
This book has new translation of the best selections of quotes which include Epictetus, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, and how their wisdom holds up across centuries and cultures.
As presented by Holiday and Hanselman, it can make us more grounded, smarter and more successful:
Let all your efforts be directed to something, let it keep that end in view. It's not the activity that disturbs people but the false conceptions of things that drive them mad. --Seneca
If our efforts are not directed at a cause or a purpose how will we know what to do day in and day out? How will we know what to say no to and what to say yes to? How will we know when have had enough, when we've gotten off track, when we've reached our goal? The answers to these questions are important, so clarify your intentions as much as you can.
Some things are in our control, while others are not. We control our opinion, choice, desire, aversion, and, in a word, everything of our own doing. We don't control our body, property, reputation, position, and, in a word, everything not of our doing. Even more, the things in our control are by nature free, unhindered, and unobstructed, while those not in our control are weak, cannot be hindered, and are not our own. --Epictetus
There are things we can control and there are things we cannot control. You can't control external events, but you do control your opinions. You are the one who decides whether it is good or bad, fair or unfair. You can't control the situation, but you can control what you think about the situation.
Understand at last that you have something in you more powerful and divine than what causes the bodily passions and pulls you like a mere puppet. What thoughts now occupy my mind? is it not fear, suspicion, desire or something like that? --Marcus Aurelius
Holiday says philosophy is simply asking us to pay careful attention, to strive to be more than a pawn. To hold and value an inner awareness is the best defense against becoming a puppet. Paying attention requires work and awareness, but it frees you. Think of all the strings that pull your mind and ask yourself if that's really what you want.
Better to trip with the feet than with the tongue.
--Zeno, quoted in Diogenes Laërtius' Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers
You can always get up after you fall, but something that has been said can never be unsaid--especially cruel and hurtful things.
But there is no reason to live and no limits to our miseries if we let our fears predominate. Seneca, Moral Letters, 13.12b
The stoics knew that fear creates misery. The things we fear pale in comparison to the damage we do to ourselves and others when we unthinkingly scramble to avoid them. A tough situation is never helped by terror--it only makes things harder, and that is why we must resist it and reject it.
These brief samples can't do justice to Holiday and Hanselman choice of Stoic writings and their own insightful translations. Every page of this book is filled with ancient wisdom that can truly change the art of our modern living. If you want to be smarter and wiser read it and apply it to your life.