the little book of stoicism summary

Book Summary: The Little Book of Stoicism by Jonas Salzgeber

Table of Contents

The Book in Three Sentences

In this summary of The Little Book of Stoicism, you’ll learn how to stay calm in a chaotic world. Traditional education doesn’t address some of the most important questions in life, but Stoicism does. This ancient school of philosophy teaches you how to live.

The Little Book of Stoicism Summary


Encountering stoicism is easy, but recognizing its relevancy is challenging. The philosophy of stoicism is timeless and there’s value in the quest for meaning and happiness. This ancient school of philosophy prepares you for life in a way traditional school doesn’t. How do you face fear? What should you do about depression? How do you deal with death or anger? How do you become more confident? Philosophy teaches you how to live and it’s as relevant now, as it was thousands of years ago.

Stoicism helps you live a great life. Regardless of which problem you’re facing, Stoicism can help. The ancient school of philosophy can help you build strength become emotionally resilient, stay calm amid the chaos, and make decisions that simplify your life. Stoicism is all about living by a set of values: courage, patience, self-discipline, serenity, perseverance, forgiveness, kindness, and humility. There’s no connection between external conditions and our happiness, so anyone can practice Stoicism. What you do in those conditions is what matters.

External circumstances are beyond our control, so we mustn’t let our happiness depend on them. You are in charge of your reactions to outside events. The goal is to build a life with a clear direction where you learn from your mistakes and you get closer to a life of meaning and happiness. Stoicism is the compass that will get you there.

We must cultivate the wisdom of Stoicism in good times so that we get the desired results in bad times. Don’t postpone it any longer. Life is real and is happening right now. Stoicism is about studying a little but practicing a lot.

Part 1: What Is Stoicism?

Chapter 1: The Promise of Stoic Philosophy

In order to become strong, calm, disciplined, and humble, we must endure tumultuous times. The stoic philosophy will prepare you for that. Every situation is an excuse to learn. Over our lifetime, we’ll hopefully master the art of living and excel at it. To live well, you first need to know what living well entails.

A philosopher is someone who likes to learn how to live. Philosophy is about practicing how to live and designing our lives with certain values in mind. Philosophy isn’t about knowing, it’s about demonstrating what you know through practice.

The practical side of Stoicism promises us two things:

  1. It teaches us to live a happy life and
  2. It teaches us to be emotionally resilient and happy even in misfortune.
Promise #1: Eudaimonia

What’s your ideal version of yourself? That’s the ultimate goal of Stoicism, what the Stoics called Eudaimonia. Eu means to be good and daimon is the inner spirit or divine spark. All humans have the potential to be good. To close the gap between our ideal self and our current self, we need areté, which is “virtue” or “excellence”. Eudaimonia refers to an overall quality rather than a temporary state. To get there, we need to carry out moment-to-moment actions that align with who we want to be.

Promise #2: Emotional Resilience

It’s easy to be our best self when things go well, but difficult when struggles surface. We must welcome adversity with open arms because studying and practicing philosophy prepares us for it. Overcoming problems is the only thing that will make us strong. The philosophy of Stoicism prepares you to deal with adversity, to react less, and to reason more. We’re miserable and weak because we’re passionate. Strong emotions like fear, grief, or anger get us further from our ideal selves. Ideally, we want to keep our emotions in check so that we get closer to living the good life.

There’s a psychological component to Stoicism, especially positive psychology. The Stoics believed that “there are ailments to the mind”, so we need apatheia, the capacity to overcome irrational emotions. Some people misunderstand the Stoics as unemotional, but Stoicism is about redirecting those emotions to our benefit. Instead of getting rid of our extreme emotions, we must accept and understand them.

One area where Stoicism can help us out the most is to stay calm amid the chaos. This is one of the bonuses of trying to live the good life. The philosophy of Stoicism is a ruleset and if you follow said rules, you don’t have to second guess yourself and deviate from your path. You live your life according to a series of values and since there’s no alternative to following those values, the road to happiness is a simple and straightforward one. The result is a sense of calm, tranquility, and confidence, even when the world’s chaotic, confusing, and dangerous.

Chapter 2: A Quick History Lesson

In the year 320 BCE, Phoenician merchant Zeno of Citium, found himself shipwrecked in a place in the Mediterranean Sea. Having lost all his wealth, he was figuratively and literally lost, but his misfortune led to a philosophical journey of many years. Zeno read Socrates, became Crates’ pupil, and studied other contemporary philosophers. Eventually, Zeno decided to start his own school of philosophy, what we now call Stoicism.

Stoicism was for everyone and the Stoics focused on applying philosophy to everyday life. Some renowned Stoics include Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Musonius Rufus, but when some of those philosophers died and Christianity gained popularity, Stoicism started to decline. Yet Stoic ideas appeared in the writings of Descartes, Viktor Frankl, and more recently in the works of Ryan Holiday and Tim Ferriss. There are four philosophers who became the foundation of Stoicism: Seneca, Musonius Rufus, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius.

Chapter 3: The Stoic Happiness Triangle

the stoic happiness triangle
  • Eudaimonia: This is the promise of Stoicism, living a happy life. To achieve it, we must live with areté.
  • Live with areté: Always be the best version of yourself. There’s a gap between who you want to be and who you are. Use reason and action to bridge that gap.
  • Focus on what you can control: At the core of Stoicism lies this idea. So focus on what you can control and ignore everything else.
  • Take responsibility: Good and bad are a matter of interpretation. Events are objective, but how we respond to them has the ability to make us happy or miserable.
Live with areté

Express your highest self in every moment. Areté (sometimes called virtue) is the wisdom and strength that lets you do what’s right. If you do what’s right consistently, you’ll get closer and closer to living the good life. We must live in agreement with nature to fulfill our potential and do what we’re supposed to. We don’t need anything external to reach the good life, we already have what we need within us. What separates humans from animals is our ability to reason, but when we ignore it and act impulsively, we turn into beats. Our social actions (helping others, honoring family members, respecting friends, and caring about others) also make us rational beings.

There are three areas of life where we should apply reason:

  1. Our mind
  2. With others
  3. In the universe

Since it’s impossible to always be the best version of yourself, the stoics created a figure called the Sage. We can’t be perfect, but we can be as good as possible. The Sage serves as a compass that shows us the way and to emulate this figure, we need to consider the four cardinal virtues: wisdom, justice, courage, and self-discipline. By adopting these qualities you’ll be stronger, honorable, and praiseworthy.

  • Wisdom: Tells us how to act and feel. Examples include perspective, good sense, and excellent judgment. Its opposite is folly or thoughtlessness. 
  • Justice: Tells us how to act and feel in relationships. Examples include integrity, fairness, and good-heartedness. Its opposite is wrongdoing or injustice.
  • Courage: Tells us how to act and feel in terrifying situations. Examples include bravery, perseverance, and honesty. Its opposite is cowardice.
  • Self-discipline or temperance: Tells us how to act and feel despite our emotions. Examples include humanity, self-control, and forgiveness. Its opposite is excess.

While you might think that your qualities align better with a given cardinal virtue, unless you have all of them, it doesn’t count. What matters isn’t one side of you or a specific action within one area, but who you are as a whole. You could be a courageous delinquent, for instance. That said, you’ll never be perfect, but you can try to be the best version fo yourself. To achieve this, we need mindfulness or attention, paying close attention to every action.

The only way to identify a stoic is by their character. Character is the best quality one can develop, more than beauty, power, or money. As a side effect, others will notice and you’ll be appreciated for it. Never make those side effects or bonuses your primary objectives because:

  1. They’re outside your control
  2. They can happen due to non-virtuous actions

Live virtuously not for a reward but because you know it’s right.

As social creatures, we have an affinity for others. This is reflected in Stoicism where the goal isn’t just to take care of ourselves but others as well. Our actions must serve the common good. By helping other people, we’re exercising the common good, and since virtue is a reward, we also benefit.

Focus On What You Control

Accept whatever happens and make the best of it. Never worry about things outside your control because this leads to emotional suffering. The few things under our control are our judgments and actions, so we decide how to interpret events and what to do. Literally, everything else is not of our concern since you can’t do anything about it.

We can partially control certain things. For example, our body. We control what we eat and whether we exercise or not. But we can’t, for instance, be taller or change our eye color.

The Stoics control three levels of influence:

  • High influence: Judgment and actions
  • Partial influence: Health, wealth, relationships, and the result of our actions
  • No influence: The weather and all external circumstances

Our intentions and actions are up to us, the ultimate outcome isn’t. We call this process focus because we must focus on the process (what we control) rather than the outcome (what we can’t control).

Apart from differentiating between what’s under our control and what isn’t, the Stoics made a difference between what’s good, bad, and indifferent. What’s up to us can be considered good or bad, but the rest’s only indifferent.

  • Good things: Virtue (wisdom, justice, courage, and self-discipline)
  • Bad things: Vice (folly, injustice, cowardice, and intemperance)
  • Indifferent things: Everything else that’s external (life and death, health, and sickness, wealth and poverty, and pleasure and pain).

While indifferent things can be perceived as lacking in value in the eyes of a Stoic, this couldn’t be further from the truth. External things are irrelevant to live the good life, but some are preferred. Given the choice, everyone would choose life over death or health rather than sickness. These are called preferred indifferents. The Stoics look for better options, but they do it in a detached way. They prefer to have it, but if they can’t, they simply accept it and move on.

Although everyone’s circumstances and living conditions are different, everyone can “win” in life. Those circumstances are random and they’re neutral and indifferent. What matters is what you do with them. What you do with a given citation is much more important than the situation itself.

Take Responsibility

Nothing prevents us from living the good life but ourselves. Happiness and unhappiness are a choice. Your happiness should never depend on external circumstances. Don’t adopt a victim mentality (blaming external events and misfortune for our happiness) and don’t adopt conditional happiness (this is when you allow yourself to be happy by events that might happen in the future). Happiness is having everything you desire.

The mind is the only thing that’s truly yours. Everything else is partially within your control, but the mind is fully yours. Having control over our minds is a superpower of sorts because we can judge and evaluate outside events. Judgment gives us freedom. There’s a gap or slight pause between a stimulus and your reaction to it. This awareness, mindfulness, or attention is important. You momentarily enter this gap where you can respond appropriately. When given the choice, always go for the virtuous response rather than the default one. The freedom of choice is referred to as reasoned choice by the Stoics. If there’s no such gap between stimulus and response, that means there’s an automatic and almost instinctive reaction that you should avoid at all costs.

Chapter 4: The Villain: Negative Emotions Get in the Way

Our negative emotions get in the way of our happiness. When passions such as grief, anger, or greed take over, we give up reason. To live a life of virtue, we must overcome those passions and we do that by bringing attention to our first impressions of things that are usually irrational or negative. Epictetus advises us to endure our irrational fears with courage and reject cravings with self-discipline.

Part 2: 55 Stoic Practices

Chapter 5: How to Practice Stoicism?

Knowing the theory is one thing and putting it into practice is something completely different. To master the craft of living the good life, we must practice a lot.

The author includes three types of practices: preparing practices you can do yourself, challenging life situations are about handling stressful moments, and situations with other people are about dealing with others.

To succeed, we need obstacles. Life’s challenging so that we can grow. The philosophy of Stoicism follows many principles, but the most important ones are awareness (noticing how a stimulus leads to us acting impulsively and not allowing that to happen), cultivating self-discipline (this requires effort, but the rewards are greater than that effort), and being mocked by practicing philosophy. Regarding that last point, don’t call yourself a Stoic, live by it.

Chapter 6: Preparing Practices

Practice 1: The Stoic Art of Aquiesence: Accept and Love Whatever Happens

Don’t fight reality, accept it as it is. Accept external events whether most people call them good or bad. Enjoy the ride as much as possible and it’ll go smoothly. Resist stubbornly and you’ll be dragged around. Accept reality and focus on what you can control. Never confuse stoic acceptance with passive resignation.

Practice 2: Undertake Actions with a Reserve Clause

The reserve clause is a trick to maintain calm. It says that when you intend to do something, you consider a warning such as “if nothing prevents me”, “if fate will have it”, or “god willing”. The outcome is outside of your control and you must be willing to accept when things turn out differently than you had anticipated. The reverse clause has two parts:

  1. Do your best
  2. Accept that the outcome is outside of your control
Practice 3: What Stands in the Way Becomes the Way

The adage “what stands in the way becomes the way” is a formula for overcoming obstacles and growing. Obstacles can only be considered such if we allow them. If we don’t, they can become opportunities. The Stoics saw these challenges as opportunities to practice virtue. To a certain extent, the challenges themselves are unimportant, what matters is how you react to them.

Practice 4: Remind Yourself of the Impermanence of Things

Things are changing all the time. The time we have with the people we love is precious and finite. Don’t cling to things or people because they won’t be there for all eternity. Accept the fact that nothing lasts forever.

Practice 5: Contemplate Your Own Death

Death is one of the things we fear the most, so we avoid thinking about it altogether as if we were immortal. We can’t decide how long we’ll live, we can only decide how we live in the present moment. Reflect on your own mortality often. While it might sound depressing, this makes us enjoy life more. The Romans referred to this as memento mori: remember you will die.

Practice 6: Consider Everything as Borrowed from Nature

We own nothing because our cars, computers, relationships, pets, or even our bodies can be taken away from us in an instant. Be aware that all those things might be lost and when they do, we won’t be surprised when bad events happen. Don’t take things for granted, they’re all borrowed after all. We arrive at this world with nothing and we leave it with nothing.

Practice 7: Negative Visualization: Foreseeing Bad Stuff

Negative visualization is an exercise to predict bad scenarios. This prepares us to be calm and deal with things efficiently no matter what happens. In a way, we’re training our emotional resilience.

Practice 8: Voluntary Discomfort

This is the practice of being uncomfortable in case something happens. Three of the most common forms of voluntary discomfort are:

  1. Temporary poverty: Eating the cheapest food, dressing in old clothes, fasting, sleeping outside, and drinking just water.
  2. Get yourself in uncomfortable situations: Underdressing during cold seasons, sleeping on the floor, taking cold showers, and walking places instead of using your car.
  3. Purposefully forgoing pleasure: Avoid eating dessert, don’t watch your favorite team, and don’t go to a party with friends.

The idea of doing these things isn’t to punish yourself but to make yourself comfortable in uncomfortable situations. By doing so, you’ll improve your discipline, resilience, and confidence.

Practice 9: Prepare Yourself for the Day: The Stoic Morning Routine

The morning is the perfect moment to look inward, examine, and reflect. The idea is to plan the day in the morning and review it in the evening. Over time, we’ll get closer to our goals. There’s no one way to do this, you can plan, journal, meditate, or exercise. It’s up to you.

Practice 10: Review Your Day: The Stoic Evening Routine

At the end of the day, we should sit down with our journals and review the day. What worked? What didn’t? How can we improve? Through practice, you’ll get clarity, continuous learning, and self-growth and the only thing you have to do is answer a series of questions before going to bed.

Practice 11: Keep a Role Model in Mind: Contemplate the Stoic Sage

Have an ideal sage as a role model. When you have one, ask yourself, “What would this person do in my situation?” The Stoic Sage is a hypothetical model. She’s essentially the perfect human. Yet she gives direction to our actions, she acts as a guide and as a compass. Come up with your own role model: It can be an idol, a superhero, or a family member.

Practice 12: Stoic Aphorisms: Keep Your “Weapons” Ready at Hand

The Stoics use aphorisms (concise statements or principles) to turn rational thoughts into an integral part of their character. They formulated easy-to-remember maxims that were easily accessible in their mind. They referred to them as “weapons” to find the impulses or disturbing judgments of the mind. You can craft your own “weapons” by coming up with important questions and formulating succinct answers. Examples include: What are my values? What does freedom mean to me? What do I need to be happy?

Practice 13: Play Your Given Roles Well

We have a role to play. We can be a son, a mother, a teacher, a neighbor, and so on. Some roles we acquire naturally and others, we acquire throughout life. All roles have different duties, but it’s up to us, how we perform them. The path to a happy and fulfilling life is fulfilling your duties toward other people. Everyone pays a price for not doing what they’re supposed to, so play your role well.

Practice 14: Eliminate the Nonessential

No action you take should be random. Choose your actions wisely because our time is limited. Elimite what’s nonessential from your life. Do less but better. Prioritize what’s important and eliminate what didn’t make the cut. Focusing on what’s essential gives you clarity.

Practice 15: Forget Fame

We must be indifferent to fame and social status because it isn’t within our control. Outward success has nothing to do with the values that are truly important: patience, confidence, forgiveness, self-control, perseverance, courage, and reason. Fame and social status give people power. Fame might be a nice bonus to have, but never chase it or make it your goal. Everyone will be forgotten eventually.

Practice 16: Like a Minimalist: Live Simple

Everything we own must have a purpose or it must be functional. Don’t be attached to material things because they might be taken away. Everything we decide to keep comes at a price. Freedom doesn’t come from satisfying desire but from getting rid of it. Want less and then you’ll truly be wealthy. Your values are more important than external success. If you’ve earned it honorably, don’t give up your wealth, but use it thoughtfully.

Practice 17: Take Back Your Time: Cut Out the News and Other Timewasters

Time is the only thing that once is gone, you can never get back. Don’t waste time on nonessential activities. You should spend time on things relative to their importance. Don’t spend time doing certain activities because you can, determine what’s truly important and then (and only then) devote time to it. Cut the news because those events are outside our control. Other timewasters include shallow activities like games, TV shows, funny YouTube videos, and more.

Practice 18: Win at What Matters

Once you decide what truly matters, you can devote your time to that. Getting better at things isn’t the same as learning how to live. We all choose which game we want to play. If you lose at the game of being a good person, it doesn’t matter if you know everything about cryptocurrency, sports, politics, celebrity news, or video games. You can do all that stuff, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of being good. Be careful with what you see as success. Your character is your most precious asset and you need it to win the most important game of all.

Practice 19: Become an Eternal Student

Stoic philosophers are lovers of wisdom. They saw life as something worth celebrating because it might end soon. What better way of celebrating than learning as much as possible? Make time for it because this is how you become a better person. Luckily, we live in the age of information where getting an education is both easy and free.

Students should:

  1. Be humble: You won’t learn unless you assume you don’t know
  2. Put things into practice: Learning isn’t enough, we have to use what we learn
Practice 20: What do you have to Show for Your Years?

We must never pretend we’ll live forever. The fear of living (or the fear of dying) will hold you back. Remind yourself of your own mortality. Live your life with awareness and purpose. Live life so that one day, you can look back and see that you’ve made the most of it. That you grew as a person and that you cultivated important values.

Practice 21: Practice What Needs to Get Done

Everyone procrastinates, but not everyone works on it. The ultimate goal isn’t a life of pleasure, but simply to do your job. Live now rather than later.

Chapter 7: Situational Practices: How to Deal with Yourself When Life Gets Tough?

It’s easy to follow Stoicism when life goes great. The challenges appear when life gets difficult

Practice 22: Your Judgment Harms You

External events can’t harm you, only your opinion of those events can. Be careful how you interpret things because you might be encouraging negative feelings. By removing the judgment, the harm will disappear.

Practice 23: How to Deal with Grief

Stoicism motivates us to deal with emotions instead of escaping from them. Grief is an emotional reflex, so face it as long as you’re willing to stop before it ruins you. Death is sad, but grateful to have known the person who passed.

Practice 24: Choose Courage and Calm Over Anger

Anger is a negative emotion and you must suppress it. By getting angry, you lose control and the ability to reason. By getting angry, you can hurt others, but you hurt yourself the most. Reject anger as soon as it surfaces because once unleashed, you won’t be able to stop it. Choose reason, courage, calm, love, compassion, and justice over anger.

Practice 25: Beat Fear with Preparation and Reason

Most of your fears will never become a reality, yet our imaginary fears paralyze us. The root of fear is trying to control something we can’t. Our attachment to people or things usually leads to fear. To be immune to fear, stop wanting external things and become familiar with them. Never avoid fear because it’ll grow bigger.

Practice 26: Blame Your Expectations

Never blame others for your frustrations. Take responsibility for your own expectations and desires instead. Be grateful for what you have and never demand more of the world.

Practice 27: Pain and Provocation: Great Opportunities for Virtue

Challenging situations can turn into advantages with enough practice. Adversity gives us an excuse to grow and turn things around. The only thing holding us back is ourselves.

Practice 28: The Equanimity Game

Insignificant situations can make us lose balance and go back to old, unhealthy habits. This is normal, but what’s more important is that you get back on track. Philosopher Brian Johnson refers to this as the “equanimity game” and it has the following rules:

  1. Notice when you lose balance
  2. See how fast you can recover and bring yourself to equanimity. He defines equanimity as the “balanced mind”.
Practice 29: The Anti-Puppet Mindset

We let external things and our own impulses disturb us all the time. People’s hurtful remarks, the weather, social media posts, negative news, or sports results affect us deeply. This is insanity. We control what external events mean to us and how to react to them. Take back what’s rightfully yours. Stop the insanity. Ignore what’s outside your control.

Our mind adapts, and we can find an opportunity for growth in adversity. When something happens: 

  1. Don’t get upset
  2. Act according to your values
Practice 30: Life Is Supposed to Be Challenging

Life’s not fair or easy, but that’s how we grow. There will be problems ahead, but you don’t know when. Respond positively and learn from them.

Practice 31: What’s So Troublesome Here and Now?

We have no control over the past and future, the only thing we have is the present moment. Mindfulness is a prerequisite of Stoicism. By looking at the present moment as it stands right here and now, detached from the past and future, the challenges that will surface will be easier to bear.

Practice 32: Count Your Blessings

When you’re struggling with something, remember what you have and be grateful for it. Don’t cling to things because you might lose them either. The more you have, the more you can lose. Appreciate what you have, don’t desire what you don’t have. Give up on the things you lose.

Practice 33: Other-ize

When something happens to you, react as if it had happened to someone else. The insignificant things that happen on a regular basis shouldn’t disturb you.

Practice 34: Take the Bird’s-Eye View

See yourself not as a singular being removed from the world, but as a tiny, insignificant part of it. We are part of something much bigger than us. By changing our perspective, we’ll solve many problems. The problems that look massive to you are insignificant when you compare them to the vastness of the universe.

Practice 35: It’s the Same Old Things

We’re experiencing the same problems that people have had for thousands of years. People have always been the same and they’ll always stay the same. Don’t take yourself seriously and don’t think you’re special.

Practice 36: Meat Is Dead Animal: Observe Objectively

Look at things and events objectively. The only thing that gives meaning to those things is our judgment. See things as they truly are.

Practice 37: Avoid Rashness: Test Your Impressions

Procrastination is an avoidance of things and activities we perceive as bad. We mustn’t approach only what’s good. Otherwise, we’ll waste time watching Netflix and eating junk food. What feels right isn’t the same as what is right. Be deliberate with your actions. To stay in control of your life. Don’t react to everything, resist your impulses.

Practice 38: Do Good, Be Good

Philosophy isn’t about knowing things, it’s about being the best version of yourself. Be a good person because that’s the right thing to do and don’t expect anything in return.

Chapter 8: Situational Practices: How to Handle Yourself When Other People Challenge You

People are a difficult challenge we face. Yet we need them.

Practice 39: We Are All Limbs of the Same Body

We have to cooperate with each other because that’s our nature. Your actions must help the common good.

Practice 40: Nobody Errs on Purpose  

People act a certain way because that’s true to them. When they make a mistake or behave rudely, they don’t do it on purpose. No one does something wrong on purpose, so be patient with them. To deal with these kinds of people, lead by example. Help them and be there for them.

Practice 41: Find Your Own Faults

We all make mistakes, but instead of pointing out other people’s flaws, remember that you make mistakes too.

Practice 42: Forgive and Love Those Who Stumble

Forgiveness is a big part of Stoicism. When someone makes a mistake, respond with compassion in forgiveness.

Practice 43: Pity Rather than Blame the Wrongdoer

Be the best version of yourself even when you’re mistreated. People who are rude and insulting must be pitied because they don’t know any better.

Practice 44: Kindness Is Strength

Every time you meet someone, that’s an opportunity for kindness. It can be other people, but also animals, and plants. Cultivate kindness because it disarms evil. Also, showing kindness when someone’s being cruel or mean demands strength.

Practice 45: How to Deal with Insults

An insult can hurt you and ruin your day, but only if you let it. When insulted, ask yourself if there’s some truth in those words and use that as an excuse to improve. Alternatively, you can view the insulter as a childish person who doesn’t deserve anger but pity. Those people are the epitome of the kind of person you don’t want to become. So let it go and be a good person. When insulted, respond with humor and move on. Whatever you do, don’t react because if you let those words pass through you, you become invincible. Finally, the situation can demand a reprimand. This isn’t an emotional reaction, but a carefully selected action that helps the insulter improve as a person.

Practice 46: Scratches Happen in Training

Life is a training exercise and you’ll get scratched from time to time. Don’t blame others for this, it just happens. By ignoring trivial matters, you’ll become resilient.

Practice 47: Don’t Abandon Others Nor Yourself

Feel free to make changes that only affect yourself. This includes exercising, changing your eating habits, or learning something new. But when your agenda conflicts with that of other people, you mustn’t fight or abandon others. Stick to your new path, but don’t abandon your friends and family. Be kind and patient with them and remember you were on a similar path at some point.

Practice 48: For Such a Small Price, Buy Tranquility

When something trivial happened, Epictetus reminded himself: “I buy tranquility instead”. So if something unimportant takes place, what would you rather do? Get irritated or stay calm? Practice buying tranquility, so that you can use it in chaotic moments.

Practice 49: Put Yourself in Other People’s Shoes

Don’t judge others. Before passing judgment, try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Learn to deal with difficult people and try to understand them.

Practice 50: Choose Your Company Well

When influenced by people who have vices, we behave opposite to our values. Those around you can influence you to be better or worse. Choose your company well.

Practice 51: Don’t Judge but Yourself

We’re quick to judge others, but we must look at things objectively. Focus inward (on yourself) rather than outward (on others). You can control your faults, not other people’s. Philosophy is a tool to correct ourselves, not others.

Practice 52: Do Good, Not Only Not Evil

Don’t confuse not doing anything with doing good. Good men take action when something bad happens.

Practice 53: Say Only What’s Not Better Left Unsaid

Be silent, be brief, and only say what’s necessary. Only speak when you have to and don’t gossip, praise, blame, or compare. If you must speak, speak with your actions. When you’re with people connect with them, don’t perform for them.

Practice 54: Listen with the Intent to Understand

Listen rather than speak. Your goal is to understand what the other person is saying. This is called empathic listening and it’s a great way to strengthen your relationships.

Practice 55: Lead by Example

Lead with actions. Become an example. Become other people’s role model. Don’t lecture or instruct, demonstrate. 

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