A practical, refreshingly optimistic guide that uses centuries-old wisdom to help us better cope with the stresses of modern living.
Some people bounce back in response to setbacks; others break. We often think that these responses are hardwired, but fortunately this is not the case. Stoicism offers us an alternative approach. Plumbing the wisdom of one of the most popular and successful schools of thought from ancient Rome, philosopher William B. Irvine teaches us to turn any challenge on its head. The Stoic Challenge, then, is the ultimate guide to improving your quality of life through tactics developed by ancient Stoics, from Marcus Aurelius and Seneca to Epictetus.
This book uniquely combines ancient Stoic insights with techniques discovered by contemporary psychological research, such as anchoring and framing. The result is a surprisingly simple strategy for dealing with life’s unpleasant and unexpected challenges—from minor setbacks like being caught in a traffic jam or having a flight cancelled to major setbacks like those experienced by physicist Stephen Hawking, who slowly lost the ability to move, and writer Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered from locked-in syndrome.
The Stoics discovered that thinking of challenges as tests of character can dramatically alter our emotional response to them. Irvine’s updated “Stoic test strategy” teaches us how to transform life’s stumbling blocks into opportunities for becoming calmer, tougher, and more resilient. Not only can we overcome everyday obstacles—we can benefit from them, too.
Bill Irvine does it again: he uses ancient Stoicism, updated with modern findings from psychological research, to challenge us to become better human beings.—Massimo Pigliucci, author of How to Be a Stoic
Every startup founder knows that startups, no matter how successful they appear from the outside, are actually beset with setbacks. The best founders retain equanimity and energy regardless. This book shows how the philosophy of Stoicism can be directly applied to the process of building companies and making new things in the world.—Marc Andreessen, cofounder, Netscape and Andreessen Horowitz
The Stoic Challenge is a beautifully engaging account of how to approach life with a particular gem of Stoic wisdom as your guide. I can see this book benefitting many people in their daily lives, and I’m sure they’ll go on to recommend it to their friends. —Donald Robertson, author of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor
Irvine is a warm and friendly Stoic, and one of the great guides through the subject. His congenial writing offers strategies for the anxiety-free, supple kind of sturdiness with which we should all be greeting ourselves and the world.—Derren Brown, mentalist, illusionist, and author of Happy
The Stoic Challenge is the ultimate mental fitness program. You’ll whip your fortitude into shape with exercises like negative visualization, reframing, and other Stoic principles and practices that have helped humans lead calmer, happier lives for millennia. —David Heinemeier Hansson, coauthor of Rework
While it’s a commonplace that we can change our minds, this book shows us how we can also reframe our emotions in ways that liberate us from the grip of thoughts and feelings that can keep a good person down. A promising blend of classical Stoicism and trailblazing psychology.—Christopher Phillips, author of Socrates Café
About the Author:
William B. Irvine is professor of philosophy at Wright State University. The author of seven books, including The Stoic Challenge and A Guide to the Good Life, he has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Salon, Time, and the BBC. He lives in Dayton, Ohio.