Guys give me strange looks when I tell them I read philosophy, as if this is weirder than some of their hobbies. What people often don’t realize, though, is that these books don’t actually tell you what to think, but how.
Another thing that confuses people is that there are thousands of different approaches to philosophy, from gloomy German existentialism to the bizarre ramblings of the Scholastics to the intricate logical constructions of writers like Spinoza (and that’s just from Europe). Reading philosophy truly opens your mind, though you might want to start with bite-sized portions.
Stoicism, which is unsurprisingly where we get the word “stoic” from, is very different from those mentioned above. It’s invariably grounded in palpable reality, yet addresses everything from daily behavior to life’s most important decisions. The most famous Stoics, as it happens, were a crippled slave and the greatest Roman emperor to ever have lived.
You’re probably not in a similar position to either, but if both of those individuals recognized that nobody is ever either immune to criticism or completely powerless, chances are that you can learn something from these fellas. This book presents these lessons in an easily digestible format: 366 issues and ideas, each simple enough to understand, yet worth spending a day thinking about.
Some of these concepts were first articulated 2 millennia ago; others a little more recently. Regardless, when reading through them you’ll find that values such as self-restraint, the importance of knowledge and understanding, and acceptance of life’s good along with its bad are timeless and universal. These are also far more complex than most people would have you believe: living a decent, effective life actually requires you to think for yourself and make conscious decisions rather than blindly adhering to some set of principles.
This book falls somewhere between the more sappy self-help titles advertised on TV and academic works that approach the subject from a theoretical viewpoint. Almost anyone who would like to improve their life and outlook, or who finds the world to be a confusing place, will find something of value in it. You can read more about the author here; he has written several best-selling books in between working as a marketing strategist and farmer.