How would you like to become – wiser, happier, and virtuous? If the answer to this question is consecutive yes, you might want to peek at Stoicism. It advocates the principle of resilience, a calm approach, a positive attitude, and emotions. Originating from Greece and Rome, Stoicism is as ancient as religion, preaches the art of living, and was practiced by some of the main characters who made history. While some philosophers believed it to be a test of endurance that maximizes happiness as other emotions are diluted, others believed it to be the union of nature and human principles to maintain harmony and peace. It also focuses on maintaining balanced emotions and controlling your reactions in everyday life. The great Stoicism practitioners managed, controlled, and increased their focus and marked great historical ages with their names, all owing to their beliefs and way of living. If you want to learn and implement Stoicism, here are great books to start slowly and build your conclusions:
Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius:
It is the diary of kinds, written by Marcus for his benefit and not for an audience. This book was published to illustrate what Stoicism is for Marcus and his followers. Marcus practiced Stoicism, which made him a generous, humble, empathetic, and patient person. He took a moment to ponder and pen down his innermost thoughts on the subject each night. The book varies in writing as some excerpts of Marcus’s thoughts might be paragraphs while some may be pages long. The 12 books are reminders of Marcus and his journaling, making him a stoic who has set standards for Stoicism for 2000 years.
How to be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life (2018) by Massimo Pigliucci:
This modern-day outlook on Stoicism that is thousands of years old is fresh and all about acceptance. You might ask, “Do I want to be stoic?” before you ask, “how to be stoic?”; the book beautifully puts forth the theory of acceptance of emotions in the face of lack of emotions as preached in the old times. However, the roots of his philosophy lie in the ancient texts but with the twist of modern insights and interpretations of the same. He goes on to emphasize the three pillars of Stoicism: desire, action, and assent. He also delivers some stoic practices in closing for those interested in further Stoicism.
The Daily Stoic Ryan holiday:
The book is the test of self-control and self-tolerance. It is written so that you read a page every day to stop, think and reflect on your life for the 2-minute time you read the book. Ryan Holiday graduated from managing an Instagram account on Stoicism to writing a book with Stephen Hanselman to motivate and inspire an audience of readers. It holds lessons, values, and teachings on Stoicism that help cultivate morality and integrate values and ideas in the readers. The book also evokes thoughts and drives the readers to contemplate and regard their actions daily.
Letters from a Stoic – Seneca:
You can see the difference in writing style and sentence construction that existed in ancient times compared to the present. The book is not an easy read but is satisfying, where you are content with the way of living and conclusions put forth by Seneca. He is known to make Stoicism more accessible by simplifying what it includes and how to implement it in everyday life. The book is a collection of 124 letters written to Lucilius in essay format and is suspected of having been penned to publish it. There are repetitions on specific topics and relative back-references to emphasize the importance and provide relevance and subtext.
The Discourses – Epictetus:
Epictetus offers a detailed analysis of the third stoic concern – ethics. He elaborates and discusses the morality and values of living an ideal life but is entirely silent on the metaphysics involved in Stoicism that other philosophers often loved to dabble in logic and application. He was more interested in practical topics that affect human life daily rather than theoretical philosophies. However, only four of the eight books based on Epictetus’s lectures have survived the trials of time and age. The book is penned by his student Arrian, who wrote and jotted down each word Epictetus delivered during their classroom lessons.
Donald Robertson’s Stoicism and the Art of Happiness:
If Marcus, Seneca, and Epictetus are the father of Stoicism, Zeno is the grandfather and the founding father of Stoicism in the ancient world. Everything preached and practiced by all the great philosophers under the Art of Living has its roots in Stoicism and the teachings of the 1st generation of “Early Stoa.” Only one percent of Zeno’s stoic material and teachings have survived, while everything else is now under the name of next-gen stoic followers and students. The book works to put forth the idea of human-nature harmony to live a life based on rational thinking and social interaction. The case studies are the stories of Zeno that highlight the critical changes you need to bring in your life, both practical and positive. The book also contains a try it now section after every chapter that prompts you gently to do it today.
Rome’s Last Citizen – Rob Goodman:
The book is not about Stoicism and its teachings but the life of a stoic follower, Cato. Who is Cato? The life of Cato and his perseverance to restore the balance in the society of Rome amidst the distraught caused by the political tug between Caesar and Pompey. The authors can spot and extract ancient Rome’s social and political situations and explain their relevance in today’s modern society and its conventions. Stoicism comes from the thinking and perspective of Cato, who has been an inspiration and muse for other stoic philosophers and followers of Greece and Rome.
Conclusion: With these books, you are bound to learn and form your verdict on Stoicism. These books are not all-inclusive, and are all facts, but are sure to influence your way of living and mental response to everyday situations you face. You will have a new perspective and response system that is controlled, well-thought-out, and without negative consequences.