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The Little Book of Stoicism by Jonas Salzgeber

I’ve read more than a few books about Stoicism in the last 2 years, The Little Book of Stoicism was a great quick refresher and definitely made me think of some practices in a different light.

Broken down into two parts, the first, What is Stoicism, the theory Stoic philosophy and psychology. Jonas then does a great job of breaking down Stoicism into 55 different practices and how to apply them to life.

My Highlights and Notes

The goal isn’t to eliminate all emotions, the goal is to not get overwhelmed by them despite their immense power.

Wisdom is about understanding how to act and feel appropriately. Wisdom includes excellent deliberation, healthy judgment, perspective, and good sense. It opposes the vice of folly or thoughtlessness. Justice is about knowing how to act and feel well in our relationships with others. Justice includes good-heartedness, integrity, public service, and fairness. It opposes the vice of wrongdoing or injustice. Courage is about knowing how to act and feel correctly when facing fearful situations. Courage includes bravery, perseverance, honesty, and confidence. It opposes the vice of cowardice. Self-Discipline (or temperance) is about knowing how to act and feel right, despite emotions such as strong desire, inner resistance, or lust. Self-discipline includes orderliness, self-control, forgiveness, and humility. It opposes the vice of excess.

Imagine you’re walking barefoot along the beach when suddenly a section is full of bits of broken glass. Now you walk very cautiously and watch every step like a hawk so you don’t hurt yourself—that’s the attention the Stoics want us to pay to every action.

The Stoics did not focus on the future outcome (a happy life) but on the process in the present moment (living with areté) that should ultimately lead to the wished outcome.

We cannot change the things that happen in the world around us, we can only change the way we look at those things and what we choose to make out of them.

So don’t worry if you think you’re always negative, that’s normal. That’s just the built-in negativity bias of our brain. However, that’s highly counterproductive in the modern world as, after all, we’re very safe and have enough food—therefore, survival can be ticked off for the most part. Nothing is going to attack you at night, and no rival clan will burn down your hut. The point is, these negative emotions get in the way and we must try to minimize them and the effects they have on our lives.

You can’t just hear Stoic principles once and expect to rely on them when life happens. You must practice like a professional athlete, and show up on the pitch every day. Show up earlier and leave later than everyone else. From nothing comes nothing.

This is a bulletproof way to maintain your confidence: (1) you try your best to succeed, (2) you know that the results are out of your control, (3) you’re prepared to accept success and failure equally, and (4) you continue to live with areté, moment to moment.

Always stay kind and forgiving to yourself. Show some self-compassion. You’re trying your best, that’s all you can do. And even if you don’t feel well, that’s normal, everybody struggles and experiences setbacks. Take this to heart: always be kind to yourself.

Nothing but opinion is the cause of a troubled mind.

The actual damage of what we fear pales in comparison to the damage done by ourselves as we’re blindly trying to prevent what we fear.

When you find yourself frustrated, don’t blame other people or outside events, but yourself and your unrealistic expectations. Turn your focus inward, remember, we must take responsibility.

Obstacles and challenging situations make us stronger, they’re an opportunity for growth. We want to be warriors of the mind who don’t retreat but try to be fully present in the face of life’s challenges—well aware that these challenges will make us stronger.

We judge people but don’t know the situation they’re in. We don’t know their backstory, we don’t know why they do what they do. We basically know nothing about them.

Connect with people. Don’t perform for them. Let them do most of the talking. Enjoy listening.


My Rating: ★★★★☆

ISBN: 9783952506912

Date Finished: 2018-06-19

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