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A Guide to the Good Life Summary – July 2022

Author: William B. Irvine

Short Summary
A Guide to the Good Life (2008) preaches the philosophy of stoicism in order to lead its readers towards a life of moderation and self-control. It aims at imparting wisdom about life, its problems, and our social relationships, and satisfying our innate human nature.
a guide to the good life
Source: amazon.com

Detailed Summary

You want to become a good artist, you might want to go to an art school, you want to become a good doctor you would want to opt for the best medical school but what do you do when you want to learn the tactics of a good life? You turn towards philosophy. Ancients gave a great deal of importance to teach their children about life. The Stoics, an ancient philosophical school of thought can teach you some of the briefest yet impactful ideas that can help you as you navigate through your goals. The good thing about stoicism is that it does not teach you to be fully disciplined; (Leave food, drinking, and pleasure for all of your life) neither it teaches you to become fully hedonist ( so that you do whatever your heart desires at every moment in your life)

Stoicism is about moderation, it is about finding a middle way between two extremes. A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy teaches you all the aspects of life through stoicism. You will learn how to deal with stupid people, satisfy your cravings, face death, and look at the positive side of discomfort all in this book. So let’s dig in and find out how to balance pleasure and discipline while navigating our lives.

A Guide to the Good Life Key Points

Satisfy Your Insatiable Nature

The ‘I will be happy when’ stays constant in most of our lives. But the world is constantly changing. It constantly lures us into desiring something. It keeps us on our toes. When we achieve what we wanted the desire changes and move on towards associating our happiness with the next tempting thing. We keep lusting after materialistic goals. A new Prada, a promotion, a flashy watch, and so on. We as humans always want more. Sometimes we can get it and sometimes we cannot. The result? First Constant struggle and then frustration.

 This is a vicious cycle to which we all keep falling prey. So how to break out of this cycle using Stoicism? Feed your insatiable nature by the things you already have. Visualize the things you already have. You want a new car when you already have one, you want a new handbag while ten are stacked in your closet. How many things do you take for granted every day? Your health and your family are a lot of blessings that ease your life and your friends.

Experience Mild Discomfort

The more you practice tolerating discomfort, the more confidence you’ll gain in your ability to accept new challenges. How can experiencing a painful or discomforting situation become good for you? Well, because when you will return to your blessings you will appreciate them more. Don’t worry. You will not be experiencing excruciating pain or abstaining from your favorite things for a decade. After all, moderation is the second name of Stoicism. The idea here is to get yourself acquainted with the mild discomforts of your life so that you learn to appreciate comfort. When we get used to something we start taking it for granted.

So you own a car; walk towards your office sometimes. You enjoy a warm cup of latté in the morning; try skipping it some mornings, you sleep only on your bed because it’s utterly comfortable; try sleeping on the floor sometimes. Such abstinence will strengthen your willpower. Make you more self-controlled while making things ten folds more delicious and comfortable than they were before for you.

Let go of the Things and Situations You Cannot Control

Let me start by mentioning a few things that are not in my control but sometimes they do get on my nerves. The long lane while paying for groceries, long wait at the bank, heavy traffic while I travel, and unexpected weather days. In such situations, as humans we feel angry and frustrated but as we are learning to be better let’s think what would a stoic do.

A Stoic would separate themselves from the things that are extrinsic and thus beyond their control. Some things cannot be changed no matter how much you want them to turn out differently. In such situations, you should redefine your goals and change them into something that is within your control. Instead of changing outside factors let’s try to sharpen our skills and abilities. Remember these wise words by Steve Maraboli, ‘The truth is unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.’

As a writer, I might not be able to control gloomy weather, writer’s block, or technological glitches but what I can do to improve the situation is increase my own strengths and show up every day.

A Guide to the Good Life Quotes

“Pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes.” –William B. Irvine

“We need, in other words, to learn how to enjoy things without feeling entitled to them and without clinging to them.” –William B. Irvine

A Guide to the Good Life Review

A Guide to the Good Life might be my next favorite book about navigating through life. It is imbued with ancient philosophical wisdom while the writing style is fluent and extremely simple.

To Whom I Would Recommend A Guide to the Good Life

  • To the twenty-two-year-old who is new to work-life and is always frustrated.
  • To the teenager obsessed with his space and comfort.
  • And to anyone who wants to live a meaningful life.

Link: https://amzn.to/3zNtWaF