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Stoicism and the Art of Happiness by Donald Robertson
The Stoics also emphasized the notion that by anticipating possible future adversities we can learn to take away the sense of ‘surprise’ or ‘shock’ that often accompanies their occurrence, seeing them instead as something natural and in some cases inevitable in life.Donald Robertson, p. 159
The truth is that Stoicism has a lot to offer modern readers. However, I’ve found the predominant use of ancient Greek terminology to describe key concepts for English readers has had a dampening effect on its adoption in the US. There’s nothing wrong with using Greek words to describe Greek ideas. The problem is that many modern readers are unfamiliar with these foreign words. This means readers must learn both a “new language” and new cognitive strategies in order to make Stoic philosophy an accessible way of life.
A Strange New Vocabulary
- Eudaimonia – happiness/sense of fulfillment from living a “noble” (Reason-focused) life
- Ataraxia – tranquility/peace of mind
- Hupexhairesis – reserve clause/Fate Willing/I’ll do all in my power, but I accept that it may not turn out how I planned.
- Prosechê – attention to one’s mind/mindfulness of your thoughts
I think this is where Robertson has done a remarkable job in creating a textbook for modern Stoicism to rival the historic Handbook of Epictetus in it’s usefulness to the common reader. There are so many great texts on Stoicism—both ancient and modern—that it can be difficult to know where to start your search.
Robertson has made your decision effortless and given you the best of both worlds from Seneca to Hadot. If you want a solid understanding and a real chance at practicing the Stoic way of life, grab a copy of this book and start reading today. Robertson not only provides a slew of source material, but he also gives us a helpful format that provides structure and guidance as we learn how to approach life with Stoic mindfulness.
Additionally, the novel Teach Yourself format reinforces key concepts to help you maximize your understanding as well as easily refer back to the material as you interact with it. Some of the most helpful features include “Try it Now” practice exercises, “Case Studies” and “Self Assessments.”
Give this one a chance and experience the rich history of the Stoics while getting real world perspectives and even psychological insights from CBT – Cognitive Behavior Theory. Stoicism as a philosophy of life can help you achieve your best.