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How to Be a Stoic_ 12 Practical Exercises > Book Summary



  • Book Name - How to Be a Stoic
  • Book Author - Massimo Pigliucci


12 practical stoic exercises that embody the ideas presented in How to Be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci.If you execute on just a few of these, you'll find yourself feeling less miserable.

The first exercise (Exercise 1) is to examine your impressions. Evaluate your initial reactions to events, people what you are told by taking a step back to be rational before your knee jerk, over emotional reactions cause unnecessary troubles. Ask that whatever is being thrown at you is under your control or not. If it is, then act on it, if it isn't, then chill out. When I led in Australia after my trip from Thail last year, I left my phone in the airport bathroom. When I realised five minutes later went to check if it was there, it was gone. Instead of freaking out feeling like crap, I accepted the situation for what it was, went asked the security desk to see if they had it made every effort to find it, but there came a point shortly after where I had to accept that I had lost it. I went on with my day like nothing happened ordered a new one when I got home.

The second exercise (Exercise 2) is to remind yourself of the impermanence of things.This year my girlfriend I broke I lost my mother, part of the reason I've been able to hold myself together is because of this lesson, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy every moment leading up to the loss of someone or something. To me it's a much healthier way of living, because I don't get any nasty surprises.

The third exercise (Exercise 3) is the reverse clause. Whenever planning an action, mentally rehearse what the plan entails. A night out to the movies could involve obnoxious people who talk loudly are so chained to their phones that they have to check their messages every seven seconds, an act which is accompanied by a devastating stream of light that unwilling diverts your attention from the theatre screen. By mentally rehearsing a scenario like this one, you prime yourself to be in line with how the world works in therefore less agitated than the average Joe who expects that everything will go well.

The fourth exercise (Exercise 4), we should be asking ourselves how can I use virtue here now. This is an ancient way of saying that every challenge in life is a perfectly good chance to work on self improvement. I remember getting stred on my motorbike in Thail at 1 AM in the morning, I had a flaty. Instead of getting pissed off about it, I took it as an opportunity to accept what had just happened as a learning experience. Five minutes later two Thai guys pulled over towed me my bike back to my place whilst we had a few laughs. The obstacle is the way.

Exercise 5, pause take a deep breath. A quote from Epictetus, remember it is not enough to be hit or insulted to be harmed, you must believe that you are being harmed, if someone succeeds in provoking you, realise that your mind is complicit in the provocation. That's why taking a deep breath before you respond impulsively can do you wonders.

Exercise 6, other-ize. When we break a glass, oh shhhh, damn! But when a friend breaks a glass, we are like, meh, it happens, but isn't that only reasonable then that when we break a glass of our own, that we react in the same patient spirit? Another way we can use this lesson is that if we see someone else seemingly over-reacting to a situation, if we put ourselves in their shoes, there is a good chance we would react the same way unless we are well versed in stoic practises such as this one.

Exercise 7, speak little well. Epictetus expresses his fondness of intellectual discussion as opposed to fundamentally empty matters like who slept with who Miley Cyrus's choice twerks. If you are chatty extrovert who just likes to talk for the sake of it, then I don't believe you should force yourself to be someone you are not, but what you should take away from this lesson is to simply be conscious of how what you say how much effects yourself others. So if you are chatting to someone for 15 minutes about how your cat likes to nibble on your toe nails every morning at 6 AM they show signs of disinterest, then I'd suggest you consider changing the topic, listening to what they have to say, or bringing the conversation to an end.

Exercise 8, choose your company well. As you've probably heard, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Good company to the stoics means those who are interested in following virtue improving themselves.

Exercise 9, respond to insults with humour. Back in high school I had this skin condition called eczema where I'd get red, flaky skin on my hs this guy used to throw out snarky comments about it. I just responded by adding to his snarky comment, yeah this shit's out of control! And I followed it up with a hearty laugh. The dude had no idea how to respond we actually ended up getting along by the end of high school.

Exercise 10, don't speak much about yourself. Epictetus is delivering the goods once again. Just because you enjoy recounting your exploits doesn't mean the others derive the same pleasure from hearing about them. Yeah thanks Epictetus.

Exercise 11, speak without judging. If Jimmy downs a lot of wine, don't tell him he has a drinking problem, tell him he drinks a lot. Until you know Jimmy's reasons, how do you know his actions are bad ones, always state the situation rather than making conclusions.

Now for the last exercise ( Exercise 12), reflect on your day. What good did you do today? What could have you done better? Seneca suggests we do this in the evening before hopping in bed because bed can make you feel groggy lose concentration. I hope you enjoyed the Article And Also drop a comment below to share an experience where you've used one of these stoic lessons in your own life.

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