HackerNews Readings
40,000 HackerNews book recommendations identified using NLP and deep learning

Scroll down for comments...

The Soul of A New Machine

Tracy Kidder

4.6 on Amazon

177 HN comments

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction (Center for Environmental Structure Series)

Christopher Alexander , Sara Ishikawa , et al.

4.7 on Amazon

176 HN comments

Meditations: A New Translation

Marcus Aurelius and Gregory Hays

4.8 on Amazon

172 HN comments

The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

Clayton M. Christensen, L.J. Ganser, et al.

4.5 on Amazon

168 HN comments

The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy

Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko

4.6 on Amazon

166 HN comments

Infinite Jest: Part I With a Foreword by Dave Eggers

Sean Pratt, David Foster Wallace, et al.

4.3 on Amazon

166 HN comments

The Elements of Style: Annotated Edition

William Strunk Jr. and James McGill

4.7 on Amazon

155 HN comments

Outliers: The Story of Success

Malcolm Gladwell

4.7 on Amazon

152 HN comments

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

William B. Irvine

4.6 on Amazon

151 HN comments

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Neil Postman and Andrew Postman

4.6 on Amazon

151 HN comments

Stranger in a Strange Land

Robert A. Heinlein, Christopher Hurt, et al.

4.4 on Amazon

151 HN comments

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Joe Ochman, et al.

4.5 on Amazon

150 HN comments

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Charles Duhigg, Mike Chamberlain, et al.

4.6 on Amazon

149 HN comments

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

Jonathan Haidt and Gildan Media, LLC

4.6 on Amazon

144 HN comments

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

Roger Fisher , William L. Ury, et al.

4.6 on Amazon

143 HN comments

Prev Page 3/180 Next
Sorted by relevance

simongrayonMar 7, 2017

> A Guide to the Good Life by William Irvine
> Put to words what I already mostly practise, it identified my issues I had with buddhism.

Could you elaborate a bit on this? What issues did it identify?

barbeonAug 19, 2020

A Guide To The Good Life by William Irvine (on the Stoics)

vborovikovonJuly 9, 2017

Here is a great summary of A Guide to the Good Life: http://becomingeden.com/summary-of-a-guide-to-the-good-life/

gtirlonionAug 17, 2020

A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine

DyslexicAtheistonJan 14, 2016

the text of the mentioned "A Guide to the Good Life" seems to have leaked into archive.org https://archive.org/stream/pdfy-bCZ9aW16m6rB2dNs/A_Guide_to_...

great read

almost_usualonSep 2, 2017

The Intelligent Investor - Benjamin Graham

A Guide to the Good Life - William B. Irvine

flycaliguyonDec 8, 2014

You can read some samples from Irvine's book "A Guide to the Good Life" on Boing Boing.


CuriositryonMar 15, 2017

A Guide to the Good Life, by William B. Irvine

raffomaniaonJan 17, 2018

Nice! I'm currently reading 'A guide to the good life' and am always looking for ways to incorporate stoicism into my daily life.

I'd love a 'distraction free' mode concentrating on only the timer (maybe even removing the 'hours', 'minutes', 'seconds' texts) :)

hbienonMay 13, 2013

I really enjoyed A Guide to the Good Life (on Stoicism) by William B. Irvine

evo_9onNov 20, 2016

I read A Guide to the Good Life roughly once a year and found this summary a nice way to stay on it between readings:


aytekinonMay 11, 2018

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy” by William Irvine has taught me appreciate what I have and take it easy on myself when things don’t go as planned.


barbeonAug 12, 2021

It's never too late to figure out how to be happy. The Stoics nailed it, lots on them online, such as The Daily Stoic and a book, I think now still free online, Guide to the Good Life by Wiliam Irvine on the history of stoicism and an account of applying it to his own life.

tomwalkeronOct 4, 2014

A great introduction is "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" by Irvine


nicolashahnonJuly 13, 2017

My favorite Stoic book is called A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy. Extremely accessible compared to original Stoic texts and honestly changed my outlook on life for the better, especially how I view expectation and disappointment.

tktonJune 8, 2017

The book "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" by William Irvine is a good book on Stoicism that provides a good practical perspective on using the approach in your life.

bluxonNov 6, 2020

If you are interested in Stoicism as a life philosophy, I recommend 'A guide to the Good Life' by William B. Irvine (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5617966-a-guide-to-the-g...).

eswatonNov 18, 2016

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Leif Babin and Jocko Willink

evo_9onNov 28, 2017

A good summary of my go-to Stoicism book:


The book they are summarizing:
A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy:


aalhouronAug 22, 2018

The Ego is the Enemy is not a good book IMHO. It is a blog post repeated to fit into a book. The Obstacle is the Way is Ryan Holiday's good work.

Try to read "A Guide to the Good Life" or Epictetus's Enchiredion. Good stuff.

aecorredoronNov 20, 2016

Coincidence, or life maybe, is just incredible. I bought "A guide to the good life" a couple of days ago, and started reading it 2 hours ago. I finished the first two chapters, and checked hacker news for the first time today, this post was in the top 10...Good article, even better writing. Cheers.

jackhammer2022onMay 26, 2017

I like - A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William Irvine, provides a good overview of stoicism.

hpvic03onApr 13, 2019

Books on Stoicism. In particular, “A Guide to the Good Life

Some good stuff here:


eswatonMay 6, 2019

The two books mentioned already are good source material. If you want a modern – some would argue watered-down – take then A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine is good reading.

michaelchisarionDec 6, 2016

I'll second "A Guide To The Good Life", and would like to suggest "What's The Matter With Kansas" by Thomas Frank as a companion piece to "Strangers In Their Own Land."

ashwinajonMar 5, 2018

> Be Marcus Aurelius. Become a stoic.

Great advice. I was naturally stoic, but the daily rigors were chipping away my stoicness. A book I'd recommend reading "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" to reset your thinking and paying attention to what is really important in life.

dominotwonNov 6, 2016

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

That one is pretty good.

I also like Jiddu Krishnamurthi a lot but ppl here seem to be not big fans of him for some reason.

moatonFeb 11, 2018

I personally always recommend Seneca as the perfect starting point, but I did receive immense value from the modern book “A Guide To The Good Life”.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0040JHNQG (I prefer the Audible version though)

mr_custardonFeb 6, 2019

Can confirm that this book helps. I read "A guide to the good life" and practised stoicism at a time when my anxiety and stress levels were high. Very useful comment and it's great to be reminded of the book here.

teekertonAug 15, 2017

Does the work of the stoics make you laugh and speed your eyes over their witty pages and puns? I also liked "a guide to the good life" [0], but the Subtle art is a much easier and lighter read.

[0] https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/1522...

friggerionOct 14, 2012

I can't recommend enough A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy[1]. It's a great and modern introduction to stoicism.

[1]: http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/01953...

juvonionFeb 5, 2019

Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine

bryogeniconJuly 12, 2020

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

by William Braxton Irvine

slazaroonOct 29, 2018

I'd go against the grain and recommend reading a modern book that's more guided and more of an overview, before reading the classics (which are great and very approachable!). A Guide to the Good Life, for instance, or Stoicism and the Art of Happiness.

makiraonApr 14, 2017

You probably know about "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" by William B Irvine. If not, I think you would enjoy it.

NumberCruncheronJuly 2, 2020

The stoics developed tools you are asking for. You can find a good summary of them in the book A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy.

halfcatonJuly 21, 2014

The author mostly described the ancient philosophy of Stoicism. See "A Guide To The Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy"


plinkplonkonJan 2, 2017

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B Irvine.

I'm not (and have no intention of being) a Stoic, - my personal philosophy is very different - but I really liked the author's approach in bringing an ancient philosophy to life in modern times.

loupradoonDec 22, 2016

>> 20. A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine

I read this book twice in 2016 and hope to read it again in 2017.

dominotwonFeb 4, 2017

I read this every year

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy


compass-seekeronMar 22, 2014

Well not all things startup related come from startups (if that makes any sense). A Guide to the Good Life sounds like a worthwhile read, added to my plan to read list!

NumberCruncheronOct 5, 2015

A tudatállapotok szivárványa by Andrew Feldmar

How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne

A Guide To The Good Life: The Ancient Art Of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine

marcrosoftonMay 12, 2020

How I found freedom in an unfree world. By Harry Browne and pretty much all of his other books

A guide to the good life, the ancient art of stoic joy

dome82onJuly 15, 2016

- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

- A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by Irvine

NumberCruncheronDec 4, 2016

If you are interested in stoicism I highly recommend to read A Guide To The Good Life: The Ancient Art Of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine. It is a really good starting point and gives a good overview.

jschulenklopperonFeb 2, 2015

> The best intro book, in my opinion, is William B Irvine's "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy".

See Derek Sivers' notes for that book at https://sivers.org/book/StoicJoy.

joshuxonApr 9, 2018

"Obstacle is the Way": Basically a collection of motivational stories that pretends to be related to stoicism.

A better books is: "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy"

hartatoronFeb 25, 2017

I can't recommend enough "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" by Irvine, William B.

I am 2/3 into it, maybe one of the best philosophy book I've ever read.

brndnmtthwsonJuly 13, 2017

A great book on the subject is called "A Guide to the Good Life", by William Irvine. It's a great read, and a good introduction to stoicism.

I read it while recovering from surgery when I was unable to walk for a few weeks, and found it to be very helpful in keeping sane.

dome82onMay 14, 2014

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine

dome82onSep 21, 2013

A guide to the good life: The ancient art of stoic joy by William B. Irvine

konstruktoronDec 30, 2012

I second Guide to the Good Life by William Irvine. It contains applicable techniques and a modern explanation of Stoicism. Stoic Serenity by Keith Seddon is very nice too, it is a guided introduction to Stoic concepts and to Seneca and Marcus Aurelius.

cpursleyonFeb 3, 2013

+1 on A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy.

bdibsonJuly 9, 2017

I’m not the original poster, but I recommend Meditations by Marcus Aurelius highly.

I’d also check out A Guide to the Good Life by William Irvine, it’s an overview and a much less tedious read (wrote this century, haha).

reifnironAug 16, 2016

Same here. Meditations is fantastic, though for a more complete look into Stoicism, I can't recommend A Guide to the Good Life (The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy) by William B Irvine enough!

radicalityonFeb 26, 2017

I loved it too when I read it back in 2012 but applying the lessons learned from books always seems to be very short-lived for me. Anyone have any tips and thoughts on how to make sure that I actually execute on the things I like in books like 'A Guide to the Good Life'?

CGamesPlayonNov 6, 2020

Any recommended reading in those 5+ years? I consider myself naturally affine to the ideology and just read Irvine's book on the topic ("A Guide to the Good Life"). Any other recommendations?

antoaravinthonJuly 12, 2016

>> I appreciated things I got . . .

This reminds of me of the book that I read in this year named : "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" [1]

Its really a good book and changed my life literally.

[1]: https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/0195...

FabHKonFeb 5, 2019

I found William Irving's A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy a very legible contemporary (if somewhat idiosyncratic) introduction to Stoic thought, and maybe more accessible/applicable than the classic sources.

soitgoesonDec 27, 2011

Always on the lookout for a good read. Thanks for posting the question. Through HN I discovered:

"A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy"

Which I enjoyed very much.

jlujanonFeb 3, 2013

Yes, I would read Seneca first or I highly recommend "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy". Then reading Epictetus and Aurelius. Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson can also be added to the reading list in my view.

niels_olsononNov 9, 2014

I highly recommend William Irvine's A Guide to the Good Life, then reading Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, et al.

As an aside: I listened to Irvine on audiobook immediately after listening to Sherry Turkle's Alone Together. It was like reading about a disease and then the treatment. Recommend, would do again.

akmanonMar 30, 2016

Completely agree on Stoicism and A Guide to the Good Life. Gratitude, as you describe it, goes a long way for life satisfaction.

shooonApr 10, 2017

> [...] reframe your personal mission to do as well as you can at the things that are within your control [...]

this is one of the pieces of life advice from stoic philosphy.

(i just finished reading A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine, and recommend it)

burkeonSep 4, 2018

In no particular order:

• Sapiens

• Thinking Fast and Slow

• The Mind Illuminated

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

benrhughesonDec 29, 2012

1) Discourses (incl Enchiridion) by Epictetus, if you're interested in happiness and contentment.

1a) A Guide to the Good Life is an easier introduction to Stoic philosophy if you don't want to dive straight into Epictetus

2) The Black Swan by Taleb to change the way you think about risk

padraigfonDec 28, 2019

My criterion is 'influential on me', they may not necessarily be the greatest works of literature.

Mastery - Robert Greene

The Talent Code - Daniel Coyle

Peak - Anders Ericsson

The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy - William B. Irvine

The Power of Habit - Charles Duhigg

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning - Peter C. Brown

Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art - Stephen Nachmanovitch

Sapiens - Yuval Noah Harari

OsmiumonFeb 2, 2015

> The best intro book, in my opinion, is William B Irvine's "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy".

Some previous discussion on this:


hvassonMar 19, 2014

For an intro to stoicism you should start with Seneca's letters and Marcus Aurelius' Meditations before you jump into Guide to the Good Life (which I do not recommend, despite Derek's praise of it)

Also, check out the upcoming book 'The Obstacle is the Way' by Ryan Holiday - http://www.amazon.com/The-Obstacle-Is-Way-Timeless/dp/159184...

Joe-ZonNov 20, 2018

Thank you!

I actually already read "A Guide to the Good Life" and was planning on re-reading it this winter.

arctictonyonOct 12, 2015

+1 to Pierre Hadot. I actually prefer the Inner Citadel to reading the Meditations. A good intro is also William Irvine's a Guide to the Good Life

rak00nonJan 2, 2017

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine.

I found this book on HN. It talks about an ancient philosophy to live life; how to stop seeking and be complacent with what life already offers oneself. It made me a happier person.

elchiefonMar 28, 2019

"In a rich man's house, there is no place to spit but his face"


Stoicism is popular in a variety of communities on reddit, so I bet its popularity in SV is related

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy is an easy introduction to Stoicism


lpolovetsonFeb 3, 2013

If anyone is interested in a book on the subject, I really like William Irvine's "A Guide to the Good Life" (http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/01953...)

I have some extensive book notes here: http://www.quora.com/Leo-Polovets/Exceptionally-long-book-no...

evo_9onAug 16, 2016

In recent years I've gotten into the Greek philosophy of Stoicism and find it a great mental tool even in our modern times. I'm partial to the book A Guide to the Good Life by William Irvine.


ciniglioonMay 30, 2021

I recommend "A Guide to the Good Life" by William Irvine. The title is a bit off-putting, but it gives a good survey of the philosophy and history of stoicism along with good examples of applying it to modern life. After reading it, you might have a better sense of which primary sources will be most relevant to what you're looking for.

ggcdnonNov 7, 2020

I liked “A guide to the good life” by William Irving, which covers the history, techniques, and advice from the big names of Stoicism.

I wouldn’t call myself a Stoic, but I have a lot of anxiety from my job and life and found this book helpful in changing the way I think and feel about situations in life.

lutormonApr 6, 2018

The thinking expressed echoes many of the themes from my reading of Stoicism, chiefly
* learning to appreciate what you have rather than chase something you don't have in the vain hope that it will give you satisfaction.
* coming to terms with the fact that there are things you have no control over and not worry about them.

(If you are unfamiliar with Stoicism and would like to learn more, the blog archive at http://modernstoicism.com/ has a lot of content. I also liked William Irvine's "A guide to the good life" (https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/0195...).

NumberCruncheronOct 29, 2016

Read A Guide To The Good Life: The Ancient Art Of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine! It is a modern summary on the stoic techniques to overcome negative emotions. It handels also grief. Or read the letters of Seneca to Lucilius (nr 63).

strickonApr 16, 2015

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by Irvine. Pay attention and you will see this book come up time and time again on HN. I have reread multiple times.

noswionJune 4, 2015

For me, it was a book on stoicism ("A Guide to the Good Life — The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" by William B Irvine) that showed me that, while it's not possible to avoid the inevitable pains and losses — just semi-regular thoughts about it, imagining the world where the losses have already happened, allows immense enjoyment and appreciation of the current moments.

Also, as an unexpected bonus, the book showed that philosophy shouldn't neccesarily be only theoretical high-brow word games, it can be a pleasant and highly practical experience as well.

thecooluseronMar 22, 2014

Recently did the Myer Briggs test and read "The INTP: Personality, Careers, Relationships, & the Quest for Truth and Meaning". Now I just need to read more criticism of the Myer Briggs test so I can have a more balanced view of it all, but the results/book seemed pretty darn spot on.

Also been loving "The Little Book of Talent" from the author of "The Talent Code" (which is another one of my favourite books).

And after reading a lot of Stoic philosophy over the years, I've finally got around to "A Guide to the Good Life". Very clear explanation of Stoic ideas so probably would have been the best place to start. :)

patricklouysonDec 27, 2017

- A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

- Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

- Tools of Titans (was positively surprised by this one)

For developers I can highly recommend the Domain Driven Design books by Vaughn Vernon.

jjmatonSep 12, 2012

I'll add myself as a second data point. Understanding the stoics has helped me as well.

The ancient stoics seem to have stumbled upon important insights into our nature and how to be happy. A good introductory book to stoicism is William Irvine's "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy".

Interestingly the founder of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Albert Ellis, "credited Epictetus with providing a foundation for his system of psychotherapy".

badbugonSep 5, 2018

> I'm 40 this year and as a milestone birthday

It's only a milestone if you make it a milestone. You don't have to participate in these made up events if you don't want to.

I'd recommend the book "a guide to the good life" by William Irvine. It may help you transform your "anhedonia" from something negative to something positive.

lelimaonMay 20, 2019

Three suggestions and reason why mate:

1)Do exercise: It will increase chemicals like serotonin, endorphins and dopamine making you feel way better.

2)Eat more healthy: If you reduce saturated fats and increase protein will impact your dopamine levels.

3)Book "a guide to the good life": The chapter #1 is very slow but the rest of the book is pure gold and I found it here in HN, I strongly recommend it.

garrenonNov 28, 2020

Seneca’s Epistles no doubt touches on his views of death through the lens of his Stoic practices. I’ve found Ward Farnsworth’s ‘The Practicing Stoic’ to be an accessible, light, introduction to some of Seneca’s works among others. William Irving, in his book ‘Guide to the Good Life’, labels the technique hinted at in the quote: negative visualization.

lpolovetsonDec 29, 2019

Professionally influential:

  - High Growth Handbook (general company building tips)
- Traction (the one by Weinberg and Mares; engineer-friendy guide to marketing and growth)
- Understanding Michael Porter (great intro to business strategy)
- Monetizing Innovation (pricing advice)

Personally influential:

  - Thinkertoys and Cracking Creativity (how to be more creative)
- Atomic Habits (how to establish good habits)
- A Guide to the Good Life (friendly intro to stoicism)
- What Got You Here Won't Get You There (building self-awareness)


  - Richard Feynman autobiographies
- The Martian
- Shadow Divers
- Ready Player One
- The Myron Bolitar Series (mysteries with a good sense of humor)

yesimahumanonJune 12, 2018

I've found some of the stoic teachings to be really helpful (A Guide to the Good Life is awesome). Good to realize that I'd be fine if my company cratered, I'm just thankful to be on the journey, building awesome shit, and learning as much as I can. As some others have mentioned here, I've been fortunate to experience psilocybin as well which really impacted the way I look at the world and gave me a much deeper appreciation for everything good in my life.

I also picked up photography and love being humbled by how great some people are at it, and it relaxes me knowing that it's something I can improve on yet never really care about being exceptional at.

Finally, I spend a lot of time observing "successful" people (since I realized a lot of my mental health is affected by ambition), and when you actually dig into the lives of the people so many of us look up to, there's a lot of things in their lives that are either undesirable, or not any more figured out than most of us have it. Some of them are downright awful people. So, that helps in a weird way.

It's a daily effort to stay mentally healthy, one that I doubt will go away, so it's something I try to work on. I know I have it easy though since I don't have major depression or other challenges.

auxbussonNov 3, 2010

Liar's Poker (Michael Lewis) Rereading. Initially in preparation fro his latest, but in reality, it's just a great, fun read. Laugh out loud funny in places. It's like Alice in Wonderland in that it gets better with age and experience.

Accelerando (Charles Stross -- our HN buddy) Mainly to remind myself how fucking awesome British sci-fi can be. It is.

The Consolations of Philosophy (Alain de Botton) I'm a mathematician who should have studied philosophy. Alain writes superbly insightful, unpretentious, and accessible books on philosophy.

Raising Venture Capital for the Serious Entrepreneur (Dermot Berkery) In case my bootstrapping fails. It's as dry as you'd expect and USian, but good background.

A Guide to the Good Life (William Irvine) An overview of Stoic philosophy and how to apply it as a philosophy of life. William writes beautifully, which makes this a very pleasant journey.

cbhlonJuly 26, 2021

Feeling bad is not that unusual of a feeling here; achieving great things when you're young requires a combination of hard work, privilege, and supportive adults (parents/teachers/etc) and most people just didn't (or don't) have the same opportunities.

It's important to develop constructive (or at least non-destructive) habits to handle these feelings. I'd suggest "A Guide to the Good Life" by William Braxton Irvine as a resource. The right therapist can also help you "unpack" these feelings (although the different styles can be hit-or-miss for you, so shop around when you're on a "good" day).

I think that it's okay to set a personal goal for yourself that's different; the most you can ask of yourself is to try to contribute to society as best you can, whether that's "I'm working on the farm making food" or "I work at a big tech company and donate $5 to the campaign" or "I mentor startup founders".

tbjohnstononApr 9, 2015

Just finished:

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen (as did pdevr) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Snow_Leopard

A Guide to the Good Life: the ancient art of Stoic joy by William Irvine - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5617966-a-guide-to-the-g...

Now Reading:

Seneca's Dialogues & Essays - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1933080.Dialogues_and_Es...

tustlemonOct 2, 2014

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales (This was a great read),
The Painter by Peter Heller (Interesting novel),
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (Good ideas and content, repeats a lot)

Currently reading:
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham,
A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William Irvine,
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Edit: reformatted for clarity.

troquerreonSep 4, 2020

Author here. I appreciate you sharing this message and I completely agree — I think it's really important to separate happiness from being dependent on success. So much of success comes from luck and timing that basing happiness off it is a recipe for being unhappy most of the time.

Have you read The Courage to be Disliked or A Guide to the Good Life? These books resonated with me and it seems like you may enjoy them too :)

stryanonAug 16, 2016

I too recommend "A Guide to the Good Life" but saying its a "more complete look into Stoicism" seems a little exagerating. Irvine covers a lot of of the major topics and offers a many excellent ways of integrating them into modern life but underplays one of the most important aspects of Stoicism: living a virtuous lifestyle. He instead heavily plays up the tranquility aspects which I find a bit disingenuous. He also neglects many of the metaphysical aspects of Stoicism which, even if you don't believe/agree with them (I certainly don't), makes it more difficult to understand the background of a lot of Stoic teachings and practices.

It's best to take Irvine's book as a guide to his own modern philosophy heavily based off Stoicism. Take that as you will, but I would recommend Stoicism and the Art of Happiness and some of the original Stoic classics; Enchiridion by Epictetus (it's short and very direct) and Seneca the Youngers Letters.

stephenbezonJune 2, 2017

You can still be grateful for what you have. A choice quote:

"But what about those individuals who clearly aren't living the dream? What about a homeless person, for example? The important thing to realize is that Stoicism is by no means a rich person's philosophy. Those who enjoy a comfortable and affluent life can benefit from the practice of Stoicism, but so can those who are impoverished. In particular, although their poverty will prevent them from doing many things, it will not preclude them from practicing negative visualization.

Consider the person who has been reduced to possession of only a loincloth. His circumstances could be worse: He could lose the loincloth. He would do well, say the Stoics, to reflect on this possibility. Suppose, then, that he loses his loincloth. As long as he retains his health, his circumstances could again be worse--a point worth considering. And if his health deteriorates? He can be thankful that he is still alive."

The quote is from "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" a great book:

chegraonDec 27, 2010

If we want our life to go well, Epictetus says, we should,
rather than wanting events to conform to our desires, make
our desires conform to events; we should, in other words, want
events “to happen as they do happen.” - Taken from A guide to the good life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

I think this pretty much works for me now.

FabHKonDec 11, 2018

Another useful one coming right out of the Stoic tradition is the trisection into things that one

1) has no control over, such as weather, other people's actions, etc.: do not fret about those.

2) has complete control over, such as one's thoughts, judgements, response to events, actions, etc.: concentrate on these.

3) has partial control over, such as one's health, reputation, etc.: do not fret about the outcome, but prepare/do your part as best as you can.

This is well explained in William Irvine's Guide to the Good Life [0], but has already been proposed by Epictetus in the Enchiridion [1], 2nd century CE:

> Work, therefore to be able to say to every harsh appearance, “You are but an appearance, and not absolutely the thing you appear to be.” And then examine it by those rules which you have, and first, and chiefly, by this: whether it concerns the things which are in our own control, or those which are not; and, if it concerns anything not in our control, be prepared to say that it is nothing to you.

[0] https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5617966-a-guide-to-the-g...

[1] https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/epictetus/the-enchiridion/...

(Note that standardebooks is pretty cool, a non-profit offering carefully formatted, open source, and free public domain ebooks!)

fokinseanonDec 12, 2018

- A Random Walk Down Wall Street: I got much more interested in personal finance this year, and definitely recommend this book as a stepping stone for learning about investing.

- Frankenstein: Highly recommend! It is nothing like it is portrayed to be in pop culture and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

- Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in America: It is literally unbelievable. It follows Katy Tur, a reporter tasked with following Trump leading up to the election. If you aren't already fed up with Trump, then give this a whirl.

- Dune: 5/5 sci-fi

- The Society of the Spectacle: I had trouble with this one. I think some things get lost in translation, and the philosophical arguments are so abstract it was a bit hard to follow along. I had a few key take-aways but to be honest it was kind of a chore to read.

- How Not to Die: Argues for prioritizing a plant-based diet, and definitely changed my relationship with food.

- East of Eden: My wife's favorite book and is now one of my favorites.

- Sapiens: Very enjoyable, but some of it can feel pseudo-sciency and gets a bit nihilistic in the end.

- Man's Search for Meaning: Also very enjoyable, a good reminder to appreciate the people and things around you.

- A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy: Very accessible intro to Stoicism

- Red Notice: A True Story of Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice: Very interesting and reads like a fiction thriller. TLDR Russia doesn't fuck around

rthomas6onFeb 19, 2016

Have you looked into Stoicism? It's got a lot of the Buddhist elements of learning to accept the present while also focusing on achievement. I think of it in some ways as a Western-friendly mindfulness approach. A Guide to the Good Life [1] is a great book on the subject, and in the past has helped me be more effective in life, while also being happier. I've also heard good things about The Obstacle Is the Way [2].

[1]: http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/01953...

[2]: http://www.amazon.com/Obstacle-Way-Timeless-Turning-Triumph/...

goodrootonNov 5, 2017

* Harry Potter!

* A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy: Taught me much about myself and reinforced a healthy pattern of practicing will power.

* The End of Your World: After discovering spirituality and meditation I had lingering questions. This is a frank book on the trappings of the spiritual journey. The break-down of abiding vs. un-abiding enlightenment helped me navigate through fascinating times.

DanielBMarkhamonMar 19, 2014

After reading a recommendation for the book "A Guide to the Good Life" on HN, I reviewed it on a hacker site I have. Stoics throughout history been some of the best-equipped for finding joy in life, which is one of the reasons their methods have been taken by so many others.

When you're dealing with these issues, stoicism is highly recommended.

BTW, on the target page you can read hacker reviews from most of the other major sites, my review, and a bunch of other stuff. The site was a project I completed so that I didn't have to describe the same books over and over again on HN (So apologies for not diving into a huge amount of detail here) :)


FabHKonFeb 25, 2017

Here some great contemporary introductions to Stoicism:

1. William B. Irvine, "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy", https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/0195...

This is an introduction to Stoic thought as it applies today by a professor in philosophy, very clearly written. Great for first exposure. It (sensibly) skips some of the more arcane stuff, such as Stoic metaphysics (historically relevant, but really obsolete).

2. Donald Robertson, "Stoicism and the Art of Happiness",

This is a touch more academic and historic on one hand, and very practical and text-book-like on the other hand, in that it has self-assessments, key points, exercises for every section. Excellent second book. The author also has a course, blog and FAQ at http://donaldrobertson.name

3. Epictetus' Enchiridion is available on Project Gutenberg, btw. It's very short, and many things are not really relevant today anymore, yet surprisingly many sections still "speak to us".

4. Note also that Tom Wolfe's huge novel "A Man in Full" is suffused with Stoic themes.

I find Stoicism quite wise, and still substantial enough when you subtract all the obsolete superstition (which cannot be said of, for example, Abrahamic religions). Certainly good for tranquility and empathy. Sometimes hard to translate into positive action, though, I find.

jpamataonMay 11, 2018

1. A Guide to the Good Life by William Irvine

-my first introduction to stoicism.

2. Mastery by Robert Greene

-stories about the lives of luminaries such as Henry Ford, Michael Faraday, and Da Vinci on what it takes to be successful.

3. Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger

-for providing me a new mental framework on building discipline and confidence.

4. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

-for giving me a paradigm shift on how to think about myself and others.

5. Seeking Wisdom From Darwin to Munger by Peter Bevelin

-a compendium of cognitive biases and mental models.

rickitanonSep 5, 2018

Very interesting that you point to a Meditation book (The Mind Illuminated) and a Stoic book (A Guide to the Good Life).

I've read both, and I like both philosophies. While they both share similarities (non attachment, living in the present), it seems that in Vipasana you wouldn't try to get rid of a bad thouhgt by using your rationality. You would just observe it.

While Stoicism demands engaging rationality to overcome the emotion or bad thought.

Have you thought on how to reconcile the two? This is something I've been pondering for a while.

roylezonJuly 17, 2017

Success in work does not make one happy, or at least in the long run does not do so.

It has been discussed in great detail in book The Power of Now if I remember correctly, that there are two types of happiness, pleasure and joy.

Pleasure is short-term and results usually from external events. Winning a lottery, having a party, making your first million, and etc, these will bring great pleasure to you. However, pleasure fades away fast, and you will not feel any difference after some time, no matter a day, week, or a month. The life goes on, and you still have all other things to make you stressed and feel miserable. This is why people say money cannot make one happy.

Joy is, on the contrary a skill that can be learnt. It is an attitude to be content with your current state, and be just a little bit above that "neutral" mood, no matter in what adversity. With this skill, you would not worry about if you would succeed in your job, because it is irrelevant to your happiness.

Both The Power of Now and Stoicism stuff like A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy can give you some hints on how to live a joyful life.

NumberCruncheronAug 26, 2015

>> They covered up the problem without handling it.

Exactly. Taking anti-depressants lifelong for depression is like taking painkiller lifelong for toothache. Unfortunately healing is not as profitable as selling drugs. Because of this it can be really hard to find a doctor who is interesed in healing you instead of in your money.

Edit: I forgot to write about the alternative solutions. Two of them are discussed in the followig books:

- A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine

- How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne

jedconFeb 3, 2013

The most accessible guide to Stoicism that I've ever found was recommended by Derek Sivers, and written by William Irvine "A Guide to the Good Life".


I really highly recommend it myself. A bit of history of Stoicism, but also a lot of practical advice about how to put it into practice in modern times. (Always going back to the key Stoic thinkers.)

EvgenyonDec 8, 2014

For the mind:


A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy - William B. Irvine

Not only a description of the Stoic philosophy, which is, unfortunately, not very well known today, but also a great practical guide to a variety of techniques that can be included into daily activities easily, and will increase happiness.

For the body:


Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength - Steven Low

As I'm growing older (turned 40 last year), I'm no longer inclined to exercise with very heavy weights and was looking into replacing most of the barbell/dumbell exercises in my routine with bodyweight exercise. The book is a great encyclopedia of exercise that can be performed without or with minimal equipment. There are progressions, advice on creating routines, on injury prevention and management and a lot more. There is also a subreddit for those who follow the book http://www.reddit.com/r/overcominggravity

splittingTimesonOct 3, 2019

When I started to listen to the "manager tools" podcast, I started to get a much better understanding of corporate politics and it became easier to navigate that space. Jocko Willings podcast also has some insights how to deal with complex political situations.

For your mental health I can recommend some of the modern Stoic approaches to life. Most prominent candidate here is "A guide to the good life". Good luck.


goodrootonJan 12, 2018

> Knight, who favors the shouty, super-caffeinated tone of a spin-class instructor, calls herself a “bestselling anti-guru.” She is particularly proud of the best-selling part, and it’s easy to see why her approach appeals. The phrase there is nothing wrong with you takes up two full pages of her first chapter.


> Then the book became a best-selling sensation. Brinkmann now lives the life of a successful European public intellectual, appearing on TV and radio and travelling the world to lecture “on the big questions of modern life.”


I agree with the sentiment of the article. I find it interesting from a meta-analytical perspective, too. As the above quotations demonstrate, even when aware of the sinister, deep nature of the hamster wheel, the author perpetuates their own forebodings. The pattern is being unable to see value or usefulness without highlighting the material end; do we want to stoke the fires to encourage more of the same under a different brand?

There's some reference to the Stoics, aye. That's a good place to start. I'd suggest this book: The Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (https://www.amazon.ca/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/01953...)

One of the secrets the Stoics have uncovered, I believe, is to practice will-power so that we can identify and resist craving. Simply saying "stop it", or "re-think the system" undermines the reality that billions upon billions of dollars and our smartest minds are, at this very second, applying our most advanced technologies to further expand this soul-less, insatiable machine which we've created.

jotuxonAug 8, 2016

I've never thought of Meditations as religious or non-religious. It's all about really appreciating what you have and understanding the way you feel is derived from your perception of the world. I think that's pretty universal.

If anyone is interested in a more modern introduction to stoicism A Guide to the Good Life is a worthwhile read: https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/0195...

MandieDonAug 26, 2019

One of the techniques of what Westerners call Stoicism is the negative visualization that Nemoto has his patients/clients undergo - imagining you only have a few weeks to live, that you've lost your material wealth, that you've lost someone important to you, thinking about your death. Also, intentional self-deprivation.

"A Guide to the Good Life: the Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" was well worth reading and has a whole chapter on negative visualization as a means for overall more positive thinking.

dcolganonDec 23, 2015

Some of the books I enjoyed the most and found most helpful:

- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain - Helped me better understand myself and others, highly recommend

- The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey - Advice on mastering the mental part of doing anything, not just tennis

- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo - actually maybe the most important book I've read in a while, helped me throw away a lot of stuff I didn't need

- Models by Mark Manson - very helpful and ethical advice on attracting women for people like me who never really quite figured it out

- A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine- discussion of a philosophy of life that seems like it would work well for modern living

incisiononDec 28, 2013

Given the criteria, this would come closest:

* A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy - http://www.amazon.com/dp/0195374614/

Honorable Mention:

* Anything You Want - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00506NRBS

* On Intelligence - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003J4VE5Y/

* Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00555X8OA/



ericskiffonMar 1, 2019

If you're interested in this topic, I highly recommend William Irvine's "A guide to the good life: the ancient art of stoic joy"


Its treatment of modern stoicism is uplifting, and I found that the overall philosophy (and even just the practice of having a set of values and philosophy) matched my personal beliefs well and gave me new tools to use.

Overall - Stoicism as it was taught by Epictetus is more about freeing yourself from desire for things and the fear of losing them, and not about giving up all worldly things (that's Asceticism)

I appreciate that the Stoic teachings allow for enjoyment of life and its fruits when that enjoyment is bounded by the good of "community feeling" or love for your common man. If the 80's "greed is good" movement had had a "but try to lift up others and don't be a dick", it may have been a more sustainable culture, and I hope that those of us disrupting things and building new systems figure out how to create societal benefits as well as wealth.

panoramaonMay 14, 2015

Hi OP, I'm the same. I work out and keep myself in good shape, but tend to let my brain wander to thoughts like what if my heart just stops. I can't engineer a solution for myself, but I will be fully conscious of the fact that my body is failing me. It's terrifying, and you're not alone.

I don't have the right answers for you because I'm in a very similar position, but I can try to relieve parts of your existential anxiety. I used to think how crappy it was when you read on the news that some innocent bystander got shot or a freak accident occurred and someone died and how that could've been me. Ultimately, we should only worry about the things we have complete or partial control over. We are all susceptible to heart attacks, but we can also mitigate its probability through healthy diet and exercise. We are all susceptible to getting shot, but we can also mitigate its probability by choosing where we spend our time.

There will always be things we have no control over, but we should only concern ourselves with the things we do.

I would also recommend checking out "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy"[1] by William B. Irvine. It's been suggested on HN occasionally and it offers a philosophy on death as well as what I mentioned above (letting go of things you don't have control over).

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/01953...

lpolovetsonFeb 5, 2019

Most of the books that changed how I think were effective because of the subject matter and not the specific book or writing style. I suspect other books on the same subject would've been equally perspective-changing. Here are some examples:

1) "A Guide of the Good Life." This is an approachable intro to stoicism and helped me become more conscious of which things are within my control and which things are outside of my control. I now spend a lot more time focusing on the former and a lot less time being anxious about the latter.

2) Books like "Traction" (by Gabriel Weinberg) and "Cracking Creativity" that take a fuzzy subject like marketing or being creative and show that you can get very far by following recipes/algorithms/heuristics. Skill like creativity are not purely innate; they can be learned.

3) "Economics in One Lesson." (Spoiler: the one lesson is: "economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.") After this book, I now think much more carefully about proposed policies/rules/business strategies/etc. "Subsidized child care" or "charge businesses per seat" can sound great on the surface, but specific proposals often have so many unintended or negative consequences that are not discussed, and it's important to weigh those consequences against the benefits.

4) A statistics textbook. I don't remember the specific book that was my first stats textbook, but learning about statistics made me a lot more skeptical and inquisitive about data. Now when I see a graph or number reported in the news, I think "are there ways that this might be misleading?" instead of "omg cool this is a graph in a popular magazine so it must be true."

rehackonDec 26, 2012

Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance - A book on philosophy, can go as deep as you like. Was written over 25 years ago, but feels very fresh. My key take away from this book was that you should be humble enough to appreciate various models of the world - e.g. Science or Religion. Favorite quote: "When you have a Chatuahaha in your head, you can't resist inflicting it on innocent people". Still makes me smile :-)

Life of Pi - Bought it following the buzz of the movie. Read the book first, then saw the movie. A good simple read. Sort of reinforces, the 'various models' idea of the 'Zen...' book. Found the movie slightly better than the book, which was a surprise. Ang Lee has made subtle changes, which makes the story more peppy.

Perfect Rigor - Captures the story (and math) behind, the turning down of a million dollar prize by Gregory Perelman. The genius Russian mathematician, who solved a 100 year old standing problem, of the missing proof of the Poincare Conjecture. It was perhaps my best technical read of the year.

I am feeling Lucky (by Doug Edwards): Google's emplpyee number 59, writes about his experience at Google. I found it the best book on Google. Better than some of the others, which seem a bit like officially authorized versions.

Below ones I read it in 2011. But haven't posted here, so here goes:

Born to Run (By Chris Mcdougall): A health book. Has really helped my running. Highly recommended to all.

A guide to a good life: The ancient art of Stoic Joy (By Joseph Irvine): A very good book on philosophy. Read it on the reco (http://sivers.org/book) of Derek Sivers.

snowcrshdonJuly 14, 2017

I second this. "A Guide to the Good Life" is a fantastic introduction to Stoic principles.

I also read "Stoicism and the Art of Happiness", but did not enjoy it as much. I think Irvine's book is more to the point.

I've found that stoic practices help me in things I would not have thought of: job interviews, for example. Doing negative visualization, imagining interviewers asking me stuff I don't have complete knowledge of, and imagining how I'd respond to it was extremely helpful recently.

jamessantiagoonFeb 6, 2019

Just like the other comments here I'd suggest focusing on mindset and health. For mindset, I'd recommend looking at stoicism such as with "A guide to the good life." In particular, the parts about accepting reality as it is, sort of like the serenity prayer. I like to think that I go into work with the mindset of giving 100% and should therefore not feel dejected by negative occurances. If I'm not fit for a task, that's ok, I'll either grow or I won't, but I can't expect myself to magically go beyond my full effort no more than I could grow beyond my height at that moment.

Also, health. It always seems to be just a little too imperceptive to really drive home how little things make a big impact. Sleep no less than 8 hours, eat no more than your recommended calories, be active for no less than 20 minutes (walking, cardio, strength, etc... ideally to your target heart rate), and foster strong relationships [1]. Additionally, try to understand what drives your behavior: why did X make me feel Y, and take control of that causation. Seek therapy and read into behavioral literature to better understand yourself.

[1] https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/04/over-nearly-8...

jdreaveronFeb 2, 2015

I see a lot of people taking interest in this idea. For a more nuanced and holistic approach to "not worrying about things you cannot change," I would check out Stoicism:


The best intro book, in my opinion, is William B Irvine's "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy".

The main problem I find with simply "Stop Complaining," is how do you do it? What should you and should you not stop complaining about? Do you shut out your feelings about the offending topic, or do you internalize the annoyance and move on? These questions are generally addressed by the Stoics, but I can easily see someone trying to just stop complaining and getting frustrated.

aalhouronJuly 10, 2017

So far I have read:

- Left of Bang.

- The Obstacle is the way.

- The Daily Stoic.

- High-Output Management.

- The Effective Engineer.

- Managing Humans.

- Introducing Go.

Currently going through "Designing Data Intensive Applications" and some other data-related free ebooks from O'Reilly.

Up next on my list for the rest of the year:

- Hadoop: The Definitive Guide.

- The Manager's Path.

- Anti-Fragile.

- A Guide to the Good Life.

- The Denial of Death.

- Man's Search for Meaning.

EDIT: list formatting.

SimucalonAug 6, 2013

I read a book awhile back that kind of embodies the points you made about happiness. It is titled "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" [1].

I feel like your story about the flood would have fit right in with the theme of the book.

One story from the book concerns Musonious, a stoic who is exiled from his home, deprived of his country, family and friends and ultimately forced to live on a "worthless", barren island. Even through all this he is still is able to find happiness by changing his state of mind about his circumstances.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-ebook/dp/B0040...

ZystonJune 20, 2018

>The issue of self esteem is confounded by millennia of religious dogma that tells people that "selflessness" is virtuous, when in fact quite the opposite is true. Virtue comes from the channeling of one's desire and one's life force toward noble ends, not by suppressing one's confidence and simply letting others (such as religious or political leaders) tell us that we are worthless and that they know what is best for us.

This mode of thinking is echoed in some Stoicism books I've read. Both "Meditations", and "A guide to the good life" include similar entries.

I really enjoy seeing the parallels between western(?) Meditation/mindfulness practice, and Stoicism. I do believe the meditation we predominantly practice in the west is at least slightly different from the more traditional eastern Buddhist meditation practice. But I do believe that is to be expected, the cultures are fairly different so the adaptation process was bound to create some offshoots.

There was a submission a while ago[0] that I believe does a great job of summarizing some of the cultural changes that meditation practice went through in the west, and how it contrasts to the more traditional eastern practice.

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16891276

nikkisnowonMay 21, 2014

I've been reading "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" by William B. Irvine and Marcus Aurelius is one of the 4 eminent Stoics featured in that book. His "Meditations" is referred to often. I've found the philosophy behind Stoicism to be very helpful in my day job coding and at managing a team. One of the most useful practices is knowing the difference between what you can control, what you have no control over at all, and those things that you have some but not complete control (i.e. I can play to the best of my ability in a tennis match but the outcome is not really up to me). It's incredible to think that Marcus was sick (with an ulcer, more than likely), his wife probably cheated on him, out of 14 children, only 6 survived, and he was emperor! And yet, when he died, their was a public outcry.

So, after reading "A Guide to the Good Life" and now that I've read your article, I'm definitely inclined to pick up "Meditations" for my next read. Thanks for the insights!

DanielBMarkhamonDec 6, 2010

"A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0195374614?ie=UTF8&tag=...

It taught me (reminded me mostly) what kinds of attitudes I have when I am happiest and kicking ass with my projects. Over time I had somehow lost myself. This book helped me get back to the person I liked the most. I think it's also helping me do a lot better on my current startup, so it's not just a touch-feely book, it is having a lot of real, immediate, positive impact, at least to me.

espitiaonDec 22, 2016

1. Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham
2. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker

3. Tribes by Seth Godin

4. Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche

5. The Industries of the Future by Alex Ross

6. Bigger, Leaner, Stronger by Michael Matthews

7. The Science of Getting Rich: Financial Success Through Creative Thought by WALLACE D. WATTLES (The Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reads)

8. Money: Master the Game by Tony Robbins

9. Principles by Ray Dalio

10. Como Ganar Amigas e Influir Sobre las Personas by Dale Carnegie

11. Without Their Permission by Alexis Ohanian

12. Tribe by Sebastian Junger

13. Sapiens A Brief History of Humanity by Yuval Noah Harari

14. This is Water by David Foster Wallace

15. How Not to Be Wrong. The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg

16. Walt Disney By Neal Gabler

17. The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley

18. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

19. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

20. A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine

Out of all these, I would recommend only a few:

- Sapiens

- The Rational Optimist

- Walt Disney By Neal Gabler

- How Not to Be Wrong. The Power of Mathematical Thinking.

- A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

benrhughesonFeb 27, 2014

Study Stoicism or Buddhism (if you don't like the religious aspect, it's easy enough to only focus on the philosophical - that's what I do).

There's a surprising amount of overlap between the two. I always liked Buddhism conceptually, but it never really clicked with me. Stoicism on the other hand feels quite natural. Maybe it's a anglo-centric thing.

At the root of both philosophies is the realization of impermanence of all things. Recognizing (and really feeling) this impermanence goes a long way to helping you to mindfully appreciate what you have.

To give you the flavour of what I mean, some Stoic practices include:

- negative visualisation: imagine what it will be like when thing/person X is no longer in your life (which is inevitable). This, somewhat counter-intuitively, brings you into the present and helps you enjoy what you have.

- periodic self deprivation: go a week without your smartphone, or hot showers. This does two things: it teaches you that you can survive without something you're attached to, and also lets you appreciate it. In some ways the essence of Buddhism and Stoicism is "appreciation without attachment".

Stoicism is very practical - Epictetus, Seneca etc basically set you homework. The foundational principle is that there are 2 classes of things: those completely within your control, and everything else. Happiness, freedom and living a good life come focusing your energy on the first class, and being indifferent to the second. The "homework" is about helping you practically interact with the world from that perspective.

edit: for further reading, I'd recommend Irvine's A Guide To The Good Life. Although I find reading Epictetus and Seneca much more enlightening, Irvine is a nice on-ramp.

kornishonOct 12, 2015

The three best-known literary products of Stoic culture and philosophy are probably:

- Marcus Aurelius' Meditations (make sure to get the Hays translation! By far the best). Aurelius was an emperor of Rome; Meditations are his musings to himself in later life. It's interesting to reading the internal grapplings of a man who was, to his countrymen, basically a walking god.

- Lucius Annaeus Seneca's Letters from a Stoic

- Epictetus' Enchiridion, which translates roughly as "handbook" and was assembled from the teachings of Epictetus, an exiled former slave, to those who traveled to live and study with him.

I strongly recommend all three. If you're interested in more modern interpretations of the above, a couple good jumping off points would be A Guide to the Good Life by William Irvine (which was mostly pretty good) or The Inner Citadel by Pierre Hadot (which studies Meditations). Ryan Holiday also has a book called The Obstacle Is The Way, though I didn't enjoy it as much as any listed above, to be honest.

A personal favorite gem which, found several years ago: http://stoicletters.blogspot.com/. This blog bundles Seneca's letters into a modern style of prose and is much more accessible while conveying much of the same meaning as the original letters.

NumberCruncheronJune 14, 2016

I now actually re-read the book

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy /by William B. Irvine/

It describes a couple of practical techniques to overcome negative emotions. I highly recommend it for everyone, even for the ones not suffering from self-doubt. Reading it was life changing for me.

A sort summary: https://sivers.org/book/StoicJoy

locococoonJan 20, 2018

I found Stoicism to be helpful in such events and a good philosophy in general. For this particular application you have to accept That there are external events you can’t control but there are certain things you can do to improve the situation.
So instead of focusing on the external and getting all stressed
About it you think about what the best course of action is you can take to help the situation.

Sorry for my rambling I am just starting to learn the concepts myself from this book: A Guide to the good life

eswatonJan 16, 2016

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B Irvine.

The last few months of 2014 and the first couple of months in 2015 - when Canadian winter SAD and the stress of starting a new business kicked in - really did me in mentally and I was going through a severe bout with depression.

This book was recommended to me by a friend and founder. It gave me the tools I needed to deal with the ongoing BS life tends to throw at you. Amazing how powerful and still highly applicable a mindset developed centuries ago can be today.

martin-adamsonNov 3, 2018

If I was in your situation I would start thinking along the following lines.

1. Tell yourself that it is okay to feel uncomfortable. This is uncomfortable feeling that you're not in control, that you're not making enough, that you're going to miss your one shot. This is the first step at reducing the anxiety of it.

2. Start to remove distracting consumptions. Social media, articles, news, etc. Spend time just being with yourself and appreciate the quiet. Put your phone on flight mode at night and charge it in a different room, get enough sleep.

3. Expose yourself to new perspectives. I have found the following audio books to be instrumental is figuring out how to be happier without greed:

a) A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

b) Man's Search for Meaning

c) The Power of Now (I'm only about 1 hour into this one, but it's made me think)

4. Start a new routine to break the habit of your current ways of thinking.

5. Meditate to help you regain control of your reactions - become reaction aware.

6. Don't look for whole solutions, progress happens in tiny steps and just keep exploring new ways to approach how you feel, how you motivate, how you enjoy the today. Sometimes it's the smaller things that have more profound effects.

7. Start measuring your progress in years, derived by small daily improvements.

I appreciate the above advice might not be for everyone, but it's something I'm going down and enjoying it very much. You already reached a fundamental point, to bring out of your subconscious how you really feel. Now you can consciously reprogram how you want to feel. Well done!

scotch_drinkeronMar 30, 2016

Another loophole is to always treasure what you have. I bought a 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe in 2009 because I really enjoyed the car I test drove. I still drive that car today with 135K miles on it. At least once a week, when I get in, I try to think "I really like this car." Even though it's now 7 years old, starting to get creaky and long ago lost the new car smell, I try to remember what it was like to really enjoy the car. By doing this regularly, I have been able to prevent some of the effects of hedonic accustomization. Reading Stoic philosophy helps too. A Guide to the Good Life is a good place to start.

halfcatonJuly 21, 2014

There is a difference between happiness and joy. Some have the definitions flipped, so I'll not try to define them. It's not important which is which.

One is a result of circumstances. If something bad happens, like you get a flat tire, then you're in some negative state of emotion. Most people are ruled by this, and since most circumstances are out of our control, we spend a large portion of our time in some state of unhappiness or frustration.

The other is trying to be at peace. If you're basically at peace then the flat tire doesn't ruin your day. It's just something to deal with. Things happen, you deal with them, life goes on, and you're mostly thankful for what you have.

The author's 20 minute comment, I suspect, is that he practices mindfulness meditation, and is therefore never longer than 20 minutes away from resetting his mind to a more balanced state.

Plus there is nothing new here. This is the ancient philosophy of stoicism. See "A Guide To The Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy"

strlenonJan 27, 2013

Along with other commenters, I think our society redefined happiness to mean something it doesn't. I normally dislike self-help books ("The only way to get rich from a self-help book is to write one."), but on someone else's recommend I picked up: "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" by William Irvine ( http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/01953... )

It is written by a philosopher and its aim is to rehabilitate the Stoics and explain how their philosophy could be useful in modern society. I'd highly suggest reading it (along with the works of actual Stoics as well as pre-Socratic philosophers), particularly to those who like the core message of Zen Buddhism but find it less suited to their way of thinking and difficult to practice.

jimkrionOct 3, 2019

I second this comment.

"A guide to a good life" was the first book on stoicism I read, that link was posted before and led me to it, and it really helped me a lot. I would also recommend the "Tao of Seneca" 3 PDFs that Tim Ferriss put together, the audiobooks are great because you can easily listen to a letter a day which helps me to build the habit of following stoicism.

Another book that really helped me was "The Inner Game of Tennis" https://www.amazon.com/Inner-Game-Tennis-Classic-Performance...

mattjaynesonAug 19, 2014

For a very accessible and practical guide to Seneca (and other stoic philosophers), check out "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" by William Irvine

The title is a little cheesy, but the content is gold. It's one of the books I re-read (or re-listen to via Audible) multiple times a year. I find the repetition is really valuable since I can slip so easily back into my old thought patterns.

When I count books that have been most helpful to me, this one is at the top of the list (followed by "War of Art" by Pressfield).

For a synopsis, check out Derek Sivers book notes on it: https://sivers.org/book/StoicJoy

Derek's intro to the notes: "Rating: 10/10. Almost too personal for me to give an objective review, because I found when reading it that the quirky philosophy I've been living my life by since 17 matches up exactly with a 2000-year-old philosophy called Stoicism. Mine was self-developed haphazardly, so it was fascinating to read the refined developed original. Really resonated."

lpolovetsonMay 27, 2018

"A Guide to the Good Life" by William Irvine. It's an approachable guide to stoicism and it helped me become less attached and less anxious about things that I have no control over. I really value the increased peace of mind.

I took a lot of notes when I first read the book (https://booknotes.quora.com/Notes-on-A-Guide-to-the-Good-Lif...) and I still revisit them occasionally. (The notes don't replace reading the book, but give a good sense of its contents.)

bzalaskyonMar 6, 2015

There was another thread about anxiety a while back, and someone mentioned how 'A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy' by William B. Irvine had helped them (http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/01953...). I'm about half way through it, and have to say it was a great recommendation.

Stoic philosophy aside, sleep (cutting back on caffeine), exercise and spending time with family and friends helps me.

king_philonJuly 22, 2016

Yes. Don't be "somebody"", just be yourself and work on improving a few skills plus get out of your comfort zone. Go to an acting class. Learn a new language. Go to a small, special cafe every day where the people after a while greet you like family. Read "a guide to the good life" and really reflect about it. Then read it again.

jotuxonJan 20, 2017

I think of Meditations like a daily journal or notebook. It's one of the few books I keep around my desk and occasionally just flip to a random page and read. Individual passages have a lot of meaning so often I'll isolate one and really think about it or talk to my wife about it for a while.

In general, though, I agree it's not very organized or easy to read. If you're looking for a better entry into stoicism I'd suggest A Guide to a Good Life[1]. It's a structured overview of stoicism with straight forward advice on actually using stoic ideas in your own life.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Good-Life-Ancient-Stoic/dp/0195...

phren0logyonNov 28, 2017

How to be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci (author of the article)

A Guide to the Good Life by William Irvine

I also read The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday, which read too much like a self-help/business book to me. It might be to some people's tastes, but I found it lacked the substance of the two above. Ryan Holiday does have Daily Stoic email newsletter which is often interesting, though.

Edit: Also, the 2003 Hays translation of Meditations is a much more accessible version of the text. I wish it was still in print.

prsonFeb 3, 2013

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy - by William Irvine

Notes by Derek Sivers available at http://sivers.org/book/StoicJoy

Tim Ferriss also frequently shows his admiration for Stoicism. A quick read that also provides a broad overview with a few reading recommendations.

Stoicism 101: A Practical Guide for Entrepreneurs

throw00000onApr 16, 2015

The Game by Neil Strauss. I've not turned into a PUA after reading it (it was not the goal) but just after reading the first chapter, I just stood up from my desk and went straight to speak to a girl I was attracted to (but to which I was afraid to speak). I guess that can count as "altering my character".

I also second A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine. Applying some of the stoic principles (negative visualization, dichotomy/trichotomy of control, fatalism, ...) helped me a lot to be peaceful with myself.

OsmiumonDec 8, 2014

> A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy - William B. Irvine

I read this, and have nothing bad to say about it per se. I think Stoicism in the classic sense is very under-appreciated these days, and it's good to have a book to serve as an introduction. But I personally found it to be very repetitive. The historical context part is worth reading in my opinion, but apart from that you'd be better off reading something like Marcus Aurelius' Meditations instead, or some of the other classics.

Edit: Or if you're interested in a contemporary overview, I found AC Grayling's What is Good? to be much more insightful. Its central theme is also a search for some form of "philosophy of life", like Irvine's book, but it doesn't cover just Stoicism. Instead it covers many more philosophies, and I think it's a much richer book because of it since it gives you a much broader context, even if you end up adopting a Stoic outlook.

benrhughesonMar 20, 2014

A Guide to the Good Life has its issues, particularly around complicating simple ideas (for example, his "trichotomy of control" adds nothing at all the the basic dichotomy, other than confusion).

However, he does a good job of giving a basic introduction and framing for Stoic concepts. I think it's easier to digest the Romans (particularly the concise and acerbic style of Epictetus) if you are somewhat familiar with the subject. I got much, much more from Epictetus than I did from Irvine, but he is, I think, a valuable on-ramp.

I'm also not sure what the big deal is with Marcus Aurelius. Compared with The Enchiridion and even Seneca's letters, it's haphazard and dull. I'll give it another shot once I'm done with all of Seneca's letters.

Personally, I would start with Irvine, then the George Long translation of The Enchiridion (it's more poetic than the Carter translation, IMO). I'm about half way through Seneca's Letters, and while enjoyable, he takes a long time to cover the same insights as Epictetus.

(aside: on my 3rd or 4th reading of The Enchiridion, I wrote brief notes on each part, which you can find at http://thiscodinglife.com/dissecting-epictetus/intro)

msms01onApr 27, 2020

A few of my fav:

  A guide to the Good Life by William Irvine

The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday

The Art of Living by Epictetus

Meditation by Marcus Aurelius

Although not directly related to Stoicism, there are Stoic lessons in them:

  Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

The Fifth Agreement by don Miguel Ruiz

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

NumberCruncheronOct 18, 2016

>>Anger exists for a reason and it exists for good reasons

Anger originates from a time where responding with anger to a certain situation could save your life and rise the probability to reproduce. That was long ago before human reason arised. Today anger is an overkill for most of the situations we face in daily life. Fortunately we can use human reasoning to deal with this. Read the book A Guide To The Good Life: The Ancient Art Of Stoic Joy! It is a life changer.

Tl,dr: you don't have to suppress it because you can eliminate it by changing yor point of view.

xemokaonMar 6, 2017

- Ishmael and Story of B by Daniel Quinn

His thoughts on religion and interpretation of religion as propaganda and how we've framed our taker society very much influenced my young mind.

- 1491 and 1493 by Charles C. Mann

The way we look at the new world and how vastly different standard teachings and what actually happened are.

- A Guide to the Good Life by William Irvine

Put to words what I already mostly practise, it identified my issues I had with buddhism.

- A Dictators Handbook by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita

An interesting flip on politics, it made me stop worrying so much about the here-and-now of it, and quelled my anger with the (further?) realisation that it is a game. If we want to fix what's happening we need to fix the rules, not the players.

Built withby tracyhenry


Follow me on