The Art of Living – November Book of the Month 

Hari Kalymnios

This month the book I would like to share with you is a thin book called The Art of Living. The book is an adaption by Sharon Lebell of the best pieces of wisdom from Stoic philosopher, Epictetus. Epictetus lived around 2000 years ago – mostly in Ancient Rome, and is one of the most famous Stoic philosophers. Stoicism is a branch of philosophy that has a lot of practical application, even (or rather, especially) today. It’s all about how to live a good and worthwhile live and they are in the constant pursuit of finding tranquility.

I did a book of the month in October (found here: ) about Stoicism and a really easy and modern guide to it. This book it different in that it just gives you the simple wisdoms that stem from Epictetus in an easy to digest way. Some of the passages are only a paragraph long and really a great way to view life.

Here’s a couple of examples:

Events don’t hurt us, but our views of them can

Things themselves don’t hurt or hinder us. Nor do other people. How we view these things is another matter. It is our attitudes and reactions that give us trouble.

Therefore even death is no big deal in and of itself. It is our notion of death, our idea that it is terrible, that terrifies us. There are so many different ways to think about death. Scrutinize your notions about death—and everything else. Are they really true? Are they doing you any good? Don’t dread death or pain; dread the fear of death or pain.

We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.

No one can hurt you

People don’t have the power to hurt you. Even if someone shouts abuse at you or strikes you, if you are insulted, it is always your choice to view what is happening as an insulting or not. If someone irritates you, it is only your own response that is irritating you. Therefore, when anyone seems to be provoking you, remember that it is only your judgement of the incident that provokes you. Don’t let your emotions get ignited by mere appearances.

Try not to merely react in the moment. Pull back from the situation. Take a wider view; compose yourself.

The book is full of great, short and digestible wisdom from the stoic philosophy. It’s great just to read a passage when you are waiting for the kettle to boil or during an ad break on TV.

As I keep saying, all great leaders (in my experience anyway) are readers. But more than that, they are able to lead themselves and are continually looking to improve how they operate in the world. Stoicism has some useful concepts that can be applied practically with immediate effect.

Check out the book and let me know what you think below. 

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