The Stoic Challenge: A Philosopher's Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient

The Stoic Challenge: A Philosopher's Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient

by William B. Irvine


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393652499
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 09/03/2019
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 51,505
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

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.

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Day at the Airport 11

Part I Dealing with Life's Challenges

Chapter 1 Setbacks: When Things Take a Turn for the Worse 23

Chapter 2 Anger Issues 35

Chapter 3 Resilience 41

Chapter 4 Can We Become More Resilient? 59

Part II The Psychology of Setbacks

Chapter 5 You Are of Two Minds 69

Chapter 6 Sinking Anchors 75

Chapter 7 Playing the Frame Game 83

Part III Taking Stoic Tests

Chapter 8 Your Other Setback Challenge 97

Chapter 9 Using the Stoic Test Strategy 105

Chapter 10 The Five-Second Rule 115

Part IV Living a Stoic Life

Chapter 11 Studying for Stoic Tests 123

Chapter 12 Embracing "Failure" 131

Chapter 13 Toughness Training: Expanding Your Comfort Zone 139

Chapter 14 Setups: When Things Take an Unexpected Turn for the Better 151

Chapter 15 Death: Your Exit Exam 159

Conclusion: Another Day at the Airport 173

Acknowledgments 179

Suggestions for Further Reading 180

Notes 181

Index 187

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