Friday, August 10, 2018

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine

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The dictionary defines your philosophy of life as your overall vision of or attitude toward life and the purpose of life. 

You know, your grand goal in living. Of the things in life you might pursue, which is the thing you believe to be most valuable?

One would think that as a Woman of a Certain Age I would have developed a Philosophy of Life by now. Perhaps I have only I didn't call it that.

I will say, though, that I have long aligned my thinking with the ancient Stoic philosophy of spending one's life trying to attain and maintain tranquility. Nowadays, who doesn't want tranquility?

To that end, when I spotted A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine, I thought I might add to my knowledge of Stoic wisdom. I have occasionally dipped into Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and the writings of Seneca and Epictetus, two other famous Roman Stoics. 

In this book, the author presents a brief history of the founding of the Stoics under a 'stoa' in Athens and on to how Roman philosophers and thinkers made their own adaptations. He then launches into the Stoic spiritual practices used when confronted with unpleasant social relations, anger, grief, the desire for fame and fortune, old age, and death.

Basically, acknowledge what you can change (your own attitudes and beliefs) and what you cannot change (other people and outside forces).

Easier said than done.

I admit this book might not be for everyone. And, it is not like my usual light mystery to be read at bedtime. This is one I am reading a little of each day. I do like an intellectual challenge now and again. And with this book, one never knows what nuggets of wisdom might add to tranquility and joy.

Do you have a grand goal in living? Or a book or philosophy that has informed what you value in life above all else? I would love to hear about it.


  1. I'm intrigued by Stoicism, and have a book called Stoicism and the Art of Happiness on my TBR list. I like to read books like the one you describe here for a few minutes as I start my day. Sort of jump starts my brain! :)

    I don't know that I would call it a philosophy of life, but I do believe in the principles of kindness, respect, and curiosity. And treating others the way you would like to be treated.

    1. Thanks, Kathy. I didn't do a very good job of describing the book or the Stoic philosophy, but I am still a student! I'll have to look for the book you mention to add to my knowledge.

      I like your list of principles. Can't go wrong with those. Thanks.