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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 2 December 2009
I studied philosophy at university, and Irvine stands out amongst professional philosophers as a man who manages to get his message across with elegant simplicity. This book is not only easy to understand; he manages to make stoicism extremely relevant to modern concerns. It's hard to imagine someone who could not benefit from reading this book. No matter how awful life seems, stoicism has something to offer.

I find many things of value in buddhism, but balk at the religious worship associated with it. Stoicism has much to offer westerners drawn to buddhism. Friends who have read widely around stoicism after reading this book tell me that their appreciation for Irvine's book was even greater the more they read.
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on 26 May 2012
"More like wrestling than dancing"

This was how Marcus Aurelius, one of the most famous stoic philosophers described life, and it was Stoicism he relied upon to face his own existence.

I have read Marcus Aurelius's Meditations and found some of his stoic comments puzzling and sometimes downright strange.

Like a lot of people I thought I knew what Stoicism meant and would never have considered Stoicism and joy in the same sentence. So I borrowed this book through the library, not knowing what to expect. It totally exceeded my expectations: for me it was an ideal introductory guide to some of the big names in Stoic philosophy, together with the techniques to apply it to modern life (as explained by other reviewers). I particularly liked the way he explained how it could still be used by those who did not believe any deity, classical or Christian; this made it seem a practice that has relevance today.

Some reviewers argue that Irvine has misinterpreted some aspects of the philosophy. In his defence, Irvine is not saying that his interpretation is the only one and he accepts that certain aspects have been omitted by him. In my view, this book is not a history of Stoicism but rather one man's interpretation of it and recommendations of the ways it can still be used now. He does also provide a "Stoic Reading Program" and recommends that anyone interested should read the original texts of Seneca, Epictetus and Musonius Rufus.

This is one of the best books I have read for some time; I enjoyed it so much that I downloaded it to my Kindle so that I can re-read it.

Thank you Mr Irvine for a lovely thoughtful book.
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on 11 July 2013
This is a superb book - in fact, it is inspirational. It is not only an introduction to Stoicism, but is also a clear, engaging and well written translation of Stoic ethics into a 21st century context. Some critics argue that Irvine leaves out Stoic logic, simplifies ideas etc, but that misses the point entirely. This is not an academic text - if it was, it would not be able to achieve what it sets out to achieve. If you are looking for 'tranquility', if you are searching for a 'philosophy for life', then this is a place to start. I, for one, found it life-changing.
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on 13 November 2010
I like the way that the author introduces this as a philosophy for modern life and manages to introduce the key concepts in a way that is meaningful for life in the twenty-first century. As an atheist, I like the way that the author approaches the question of the relationship between god and the Stoics and shows that Stoicism is robust enough to cope with change, unlike Christianity, and is capapble of providing answers for honest people who are seeking tranquilty as their main goal as they lead a good life without god. I appreciate how well the author explains that it is beneficial for us to find a tranquil life by not allowing ourselves to become overwhelmed by negative emotions even though in evolutionary terms these emotions may be perfectly natural but incompatible with reason and rational thought. I enjoyed the explanation of the positive aspects of negative visualisation and I am putting this into practice in my life. All in all, a perfect introductory handbook to life, Stoicism and a meaningful and insightful read.
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on 21 April 2014
If you seek tranquility and satisfaction with life, then this book is for you. The book is an excellent introduction to Stoicism and is a wonderful guide to practicing stoicism in our time. A key idea expounded in the book is that we should concern ourselves with only what we can completely or partially control and should not worry about what is outside our control. Useful techniques in attaining tranquility include negative visualisation, categorising events into 3 (what we can completely control, partially control and what we cannot control) internalizing our goals, using humour as a defence against anger and a program of voluntary discomfort. I have already started using some of the techniques and I must say my life has been the better for it. Highly recommended.
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on 8 June 2012
Easy to read. Not a long book. It is has short chapters and sections that can be read easily..put down then pick it up. this is a good book for an intelligent and informed introductioin. Written by a philospher who is living the stoic life, and recognises the benefits and its limitations. comparisons made with religion and eastern philosphies. An enjoyable read. It is a good introduction for the ordinairy person or even an academic because of its emphasis on the pragmatic individual use.
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on 30 October 2013
Very clear and informative writing.

It hit the spot with me. I am a 55 year old man coming to terms with losing someone dear to me and living on my own. I found the ideas in this book heartening and inspiring.

Bravo Mr. Irvine. You have written an excellent book.
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on 23 October 2012
I'm not one for self help books, however after stumbling across the Stoic philosophy in Tom Wolfe's A Man In Full I searched out any books which could shed some light on this world view.

A Guide to the Good Life is a marvellous book, which manages to intertwine the history of the Stoics into a modern day manual for living.
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on 11 April 2014
This book is going to be somewhat akin to Marmite that Great British breakfast spread that people either love or dislike. I found myself drawn into the theme. Here's hoping that I can put into practice that which I have learned as that is where the true value of Stoic Joy is to be found.
The chapters are short and easily read. I found the whole philosophy to be one with which I could readily agree. Try it, you may like it!
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on 9 January 2014
Prof. Irvine is attempting to convince us to try a modern day version of the ancient practice of stoicism. The heart of the pratice are 2 very simple praticial procedures that are easy to follow. The text gives is a basic grounding in the ancient pratice with the author's personal experinces layered over as examples for modern times. Though the writing style did appear to me at times laboured, the message is loud and clear. If you have a soft spot for stoicism, or seeking tranquility, thie book is highly recommended.

I do however note an omission that I believe would have supported the author's case; the stoic philosophers directly influenced the development of modern day cognitive therapies, yet Prof. Irvine does not mention this. Surely this is one of the biggest recommendations one can make for the stoic philosophy.
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