Life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future. – Seneca

One of the most transforming books I have ever read is A Guide to the Good Life {the ancient art of stoic joy} by William B. Irvine.

Before reading the book, I thought Stoicism was something only reserved for stiff, upper-lipped men with chests made of Roman armor who never cry or smile. Everyday-people don’t have to adhere to this useless, ancient philosophy, nor do they need to understand it.

I was wrong.

Embracing the stoic philosophy shows us how to maneuver through life’s unexpected challenges and heartache, through elation and triumph, and through the everyday mundane. Stoicism teaches self-control and overcoming self-destructive emotions. Most importantly, we learn our suffering is only a perception or interpretation of our circumstances rather than of reality. Change your perception and you live a better life.  

Irvine in his book, A Guide to the Good Life, examines the lives of four famous Roman Stoics: Seneca, Musonius Rufus, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus. He summarizes the differences between these philosophers and how they applied stoic principles to all aspects of their lives.

He talks about psychological techniques such as negative visualization, the dichotomy of control, fatalism, self-denial, and meditation, and advises on how to handle anger, grief, insults, duty, old age, and much more. He also covers death and grieving and how the Stoics handled these inevitable occurrences. 

Dr. Irvine discusses the best techniques to use when facing life’s challenges and the everyday dissatisfaction that seems to plague many of us. He concludes his book by reviewing his own life and how he’s applied stoic practices to learn how to live more joyfully. His book is truly a fascinating read!

I highly recommend A Guide to the Good Life {the ancient art of stoic joy} by William B. Irvine to students of classic Roman or Greek philosophy, world history, or psychology. I especially recommend this reading to anyone looking for a better way to understand life and how to better meander through it with grace and ease. It was truly one of the best books I have ever read!

To bring the point home, this is the type of book you want to buy and keep on your bookshelf forever. It is a guide when you are down, an encouragement to not take yourself, your life, and its diverse experiences too seriously-and a reminder to accept what is and live in the present. There are many books about how to live your best life (and I have read many), but this one hits the nail on the head.

A bit about the author, William B. Irvine:

William B. Levine, head shot

William B. Irvine is a professor of philosophy at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He is the author of seven books including his latest (which I have not read), The Stoic Challenge: A Philosopher’s Guide to Becoming More Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient. This might be a great companion to A Guide to the Good Life.

When not teaching, writing, or lecturing, Dr. Irvine likes to spend his time rowing. His book, With Two Oars: Reflections on Sculling, explains why he enjoys rowing not for exercise but as part of his stoic practice.

To learn more about Dr. William B. Irvine or to purchase a copy of A Guide to the Good Life {the ancient art of stoic joy}, visit

I will leave you with a few of my favorite quotations from the Roman Stoics.


True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so, wants nothing.”

“All cruelty springs from weakness.”

Musonias Rufus

“If we were to measure what is good by how much pleasure it brings, nothing would be better than self-control; if we were to measure what is to be avoided by its pain, nothing would be more painful than lack of self-control.”

“We will train both soul and body when we accustom ourselves to cold, heat, thirst, hunger, scarcity of food, hardness of bed, abstaining from pleasures, and enduring pains.”

Marcus Aurelius

Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”

“Death smiles at us all, but all a man can do is smile back.”


“Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.”

“No man is free who is not master of himself.”

Posted by:Vilma Reynoso

Vilma Reynoso, aka Vilms, is a writer, gardening aficionado, and whole-food enthusiast who writes about the human experience, human rights, self-growth, and various subjects. Her passion is to inspire others to live their best lives for a kinder, more compassionate world. To learn more about Vilma, visit her website,

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