A Handbook for New Stoics

This page is open for comments on one of my books, A Handbook for New Stoics: How to Thrive in a World Out of Your Control. Feel free to comment on any and all aspects of the book or ask any question you may have. I will do my best to answer, or you will get some useful insight from our community.

Here is the summary description of the book:

A pragmatic philosophy more popular than ever—here are 52 ancient lessons to help you overcome adversity and find tranquility in the modern world

Stress often comes from situations that are beyond our control—such as preparing for a meeting, waiting for test results, or arguing with a loved one. But we can control our response to these everyday tensions—through the wisdom and practice of Stoicism.

Stoicism is an ancient pragmatic philosophy that teaches us to step back, gain perspective, and act with intention. In A Handbook for New Stoics, renowned philosopher Massimo Pigliucci and seasoned practitioner Gregory Lopez provide 52 week-by-week lessons to help us apply timeless Stoic teachings to modern life.

Whether you’re already familiar with Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, or you’re entirely new to Stoicism, this handbook will help you embrace challenges, thrive under pressure, and discover the good life!

And here is the Table of Contents:

Introduction: The Best Bet for Happiness

Discipline of Desire and Aversion

Week 1 – Discover what’s really in your control, and what’s not

Week 2 – Focus on what is completely in your control

Week 3 – Take an outside view

Week 4 – Take another’s perspective

Week 5 – Strengthen yourself through minor physical hardships

Week 6 – Premeditation of future adversity

Week 7 – Take a (much) broader perspective

Week 8 – Meditate on nature and the cosmos

Week 9 – Be careful about what you call “good” and “bad”

Week 10 – Act the opposite

Week 11 – Moderate at mealtime

Week 12 – Put temptations out of sight

Week 13 – Start practicing minimalism

Week 14 – Evaluate your goals

Week 15 – Remind yourself of impermanence

Week 16 – Contemplate death, and how to live

Week 17 – Meditate on others’ virtues

Discipline of Action

Week 18 – Keep your peace of mind in mind

Week 19 – Cut out busyness

Week 20 – Speak little but well

Week 21 – Choose your company well

Week 22 – Roll with insults

Week 23 – Don’t speak about yourself

Week 24 – Premeditate on encountering difficult people

Week 25 – Deal virtuously with frustrating people

Week 26 – Turn difficulties into opportunities

Week 27 – Act the opposite of anger

Week 28 – Put the sage on your shoulder

Week 29 – Review your actions nightly

Week 30 – Do whatever political good you can

Week 31 – Act with reservation

Week 32 – Practice Stoic sympathy stealthily

Week 33 – Set up social rules for living

Week 34 – Care about more people (and other beings)

Week 35 – Question every action

Discipline of Assent

Week 36 – Catch and apply the dichotomy of control to initial impressions

Week 37 – Catch and examine the judgments underlying your impressions and impulses

Week 38 – Observe and counter four moods of the mind

Week 39 – Keep basic Stoic concepts always at hand

Week 40 – Focus on the mind-body connection

Week 41 – Question judgments around pain and disease

Week 42 – Retreat to your inner citadel

Week 43 – Challenge your anxious thoughts

Week 44 – Decompose desired externals

Week 45 – Study each impression scientifically

Week 46 – Pause when angry

Week 47 – Analyze anger

Week 48 – Counter anger with maxims

Week 49 – Speak just the facts about others

Week 50 – Decompose your difficulties

Week 51 – Pay attention to the right things

Week 52 – Apply the dichotomy of control from dawn to night

Epilogue: Moving Forward, the Practice and the Theory

4 thoughts on “A Handbook for New Stoics”

  1. I just started reading Week 29 – Review Your Actions Nightly and was struck by these two sentences: “Remember that the goal of the exercise is to focus on your virtue.” And “…keep in mind ways to improve your character and the four virtues…” which is something I needed to be reminded of. It’s too easy for my to take the “what have you left undone” bit and start thinking of all the things on my list I’ve left undone rather than what aspect of myself have I not attended to. This will be helpful because I tend to worry about being productive but that’s not what this journey is about. So…not really a question. Well, I suppose I could ask how “productivity” relates to Stoicism? It would obviously be bad to lounge around and think only of oneself but other than that, is there anything in Stoicism about getting stuff done? Some other proponents of Stoicism often focus on it helping one “be successful” but that usually turns me off. Maybe that’s more my problem and not theirs?


    1. Jim,

      correct, the idea is to focus on improving ourselves as human beings, not on getting stuff done.

      Good question about productivity in the broad sense. A “productive” Stoic is not one that has done a lot of stuff, but one that has done a lot to improve himself. If you go back to week 19 you’ll get another view of the same problem.

      Regarding those who use Stoicism to get productive, or to become rich and famous, I think they are misguided: https://www.patreon.com/posts/toicism-broicism-31899678

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I had preordered the book, but only recently started working through it. Just started Week 2, and I find the combination of Week 1 (dichotomy of control) and Week 2 (aversion to things in our control) particularly powerful.

    I’d like to share an example that I’m working through because it’s a challenge to me, both in everyday practice, and in that it’s hard even to analyze.

    I invite feedback, amendments, corrections, silence, anything!

    Rather than post it inline, I’ve posted it here: https://gist.github.com/jjthrash/c7675258722c7cab0943a1373b032aae

    Secondary comment: I worked through this on a 5×7 notecard. I may actually carry this one around, since it’s such a daily issue for me. I’m trying to take Musonius Rufus to heart:

    “Mastering one’s appetites for food and drink is the beginning of and basis for self-control.” (Lectures 18A.1)

    Tertiary comment: I was surprised at how difficult analyzing this situation was compared to, say, dealing with traffic or the provocation of a person. Perhaps it was Week 2’s focus on aversion.. what about mindless eating has to do with aversion? Anyway, the exercise was profitable, and will hopefully prove to pay dividends over time.


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