Found in 27 comments on Hacker News
elchief · 2019-03-28 · Original thread
"In a rich man's house, there is no place to spit but his face"


Stoicism is popular in a variety of communities on reddit, so I bet its popularity in SV is related

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy is an easy introduction to Stoicism

ericskiff · 2019-03-01 · Original thread
If you're interested in this topic, I highly recommend William Irvine's "A guide to the good life: the ancient art of stoic joy"

Its treatment of modern stoicism is uplifting, and I found that the overall philosophy (and even just the practice of having a set of values and philosophy) matched my personal beliefs well and gave me new tools to use.

Overall - Stoicism as it was taught by Epictetus is more about freeing yourself from desire for things and the fear of losing them, and not about giving up all worldly things (that's Asceticism)

I appreciate that the Stoic teachings allow for enjoyment of life and its fruits when that enjoyment is bounded by the good of "community feeling" or love for your common man. If the 80's "greed is good" movement had had a "but try to lift up others and don't be a dick", it may have been a more sustainable culture, and I hope that those of us disrupting things and building new systems figure out how to create societal benefits as well as wealth.

phatle · 2019-03-01 · Original thread
A good book on Stoic is:

Very easy to read this book and growth mind. There are no abstraction here. Very pragmatics. For those who want to know/understand Stoic. I'm highly recommended.

whitepoplar · 2018-06-09 · Original thread
A couple things that helped me when I was severely depressed and suicidal:

1) I can kill myself, at any time, if I want to. I'm in control and nobody can take that away. Paradoxically, understanding that made me feel better, because if I know I can do it at any time, why do it now? May as well wait a little while.

2) Make a checklist of essential tasks and get into a habit of doing those things no matter what. Some examples: shower, brush teeth, floss, use mouthwash, clip nails, walk 10k steps, do dishes, make bed etc. Check them off. It doesn't matter what's on the list, but it is important to check off 100% of the items each day. Put every small task you can think of on this list and you'll feel good when you check each of them off.

3) Take a good multivitamin + vitamin D

4) Eat healthier. Fresh steamed spinach and wild salmon always made me feel a little better for whatever reason.

5) Get out of the house! Walk! This is really important.

6) Go to the gym. Aim for at least a couple minutes of sprints per day (I like the rowing machine for this). Sprints are holy time in that suicidal thoughts will completely disappear, if only for those few minutes.

7) Walk through a dangerous part of town. Nothing gets rid of depressive thoughts faster than rising blood pressure and a fast heartbeat.

8) Get rid of as much decision-making as possible in your life. Turn decisions into mechanical rules. e.g. don't think "do i want to brush my teeth today?" You need to brush your teeth in order to cross it off your list.

9) Sleep will naturally improve on its own, over time, if you exercise, move around, and eat healthier, so don't worry if you currently have trouble sleeping.

10) This book is pretty good, but only read after you've eaten healthy, gone outside, and exercised:

What didn't work for me was: thinking about all the people i'd hurt, calling a hotline, any decision-making that wasn't mechanical and required reasoning, insight, or motivation.

If you're suicidal right now, start by putting some shoes on, going outside, and sprinting until you can't breathe anymore. Do this 3 times.

lutorm · 2018-04-06 · Original thread
The thinking expressed echoes many of the themes from my reading of Stoicism, chiefly * learning to appreciate what you have rather than chase something you don't have in the vain hope that it will give you satisfaction. * coming to terms with the fact that there are things you have no control over and not worry about them.

(If you are unfamiliar with Stoicism and would like to learn more, the blog archive at has a lot of content. I also liked William Irvine's "A guide to the good life" (

goodroot · 2018-01-12 · Original thread
> Knight, who favors the shouty, super-caffeinated tone of a spin-class instructor, calls herself a “bestselling anti-guru.” She is particularly proud of the best-selling part, and it’s easy to see why her approach appeals. The phrase there is nothing wrong with you takes up two full pages of her first chapter.


> Then the book became a best-selling sensation. Brinkmann now lives the life of a successful European public intellectual, appearing on TV and radio and travelling the world to lecture “on the big questions of modern life.”


I agree with the sentiment of the article. I find it interesting from a meta-analytical perspective, too. As the above quotations demonstrate, even when aware of the sinister, deep nature of the hamster wheel, the author perpetuates their own forebodings. The pattern is being unable to see value or usefulness without highlighting the material end; do we want to stoke the fires to encourage more of the same under a different brand?

There's some reference to the Stoics, aye. That's a good place to start. I'd suggest this book: The Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (

One of the secrets the Stoics have uncovered, I believe, is to practice will-power so that we can identify and resist craving. Simply saying "stop it", or "re-think the system" undermines the reality that billions upon billions of dollars and our smartest minds are, at this very second, applying our most advanced technologies to further expand this soul-less, insatiable machine which we've created.

teekert · 2017-08-15 · Original thread
Does the work of the stoics make you laugh and speed your eyes over their witty pages and puns? I also liked "a guide to the good life" [0], but the Subtle art is a much easier and lighter read.


FabHK · 2017-02-25 · Original thread
Here some great contemporary introductions to Stoicism:

1. William B. Irvine, "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy",

This is an introduction to Stoic thought as it applies today by a professor in philosophy, very clearly written. Great for first exposure. It (sensibly) skips some of the more arcane stuff, such as Stoic metaphysics (historically relevant, but really obsolete).

2. Donald Robertson, "Stoicism and the Art of Happiness",

This is a touch more academic and historic on one hand, and very practical and text-book-like on the other hand, in that it has self-assessments, key points, exercises for every section. Excellent second book. The author also has a course, blog and FAQ at

3. Epictetus' Enchiridion is available on Project Gutenberg, btw. It's very short, and many things are not really relevant today anymore, yet surprisingly many sections still "speak to us".

4. Note also that Tom Wolfe's huge novel "A Man in Full" is suffused with Stoic themes.

I find Stoicism quite wise, and still substantial enough when you subtract all the obsolete superstition (which cannot be said of, for example, Abrahamic religions). Certainly good for tranquility and empathy. Sometimes hard to translate into positive action, though, I find.

jotux · 2016-08-08 · Original thread
I've never thought of Meditations as religious or non-religious. It's all about really appreciating what you have and understanding the way you feel is derived from your perception of the world. I think that's pretty universal.

If anyone is interested in a more modern introduction to stoicism A Guide to the Good Life is a worthwhile read:

fsiefken · 2016-03-05 · Original thread
That's a very broad question, so I read your comments to get a feel from where you might be coming from and/or going to and where you and I might overlap:

* Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Antifragile, things that gain from disorder

* Jared Diamond. The World until yesterday, what can we learn from traditional societies

* Frans de Waal. The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates

* John Higgs. The KLF: Chaos, Magic...

* Joseph Jaworski. Synchronicity, the inner Path of leadership

* Piero Ferrucci. Your Inner Will, finding personal strength in critical times

* William Irvine. A Guide to the good life, the ancient art of stoic joy

* Chogyam Trungpa. Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior

* Tomas Malik. Patience with God: The Story of Zacchaeus Continuing In Us

* Nick Winter. The Motivation Hacker

* Chas Emerick, Brian Carper, Christophe Grad. Clojure Programming


* Peter Hamilton - The Reality Dysfunction

* Neal Stephenson - Cryptonomicon (his other hit: Snow Crash is surprisingly more history then SF now...)

rthomas6 · 2016-02-19 · Original thread
Have you looked into Stoicism? It's got a lot of the Buddhist elements of learning to accept the present while also focusing on achievement. I think of it in some ways as a Western-friendly mindfulness approach. A Guide to the Good Life [1] is a great book on the subject, and in the past has helped me be more effective in life, while also being happier. I've also heard good things about The Obstacle Is the Way [2].



panorama · 2015-05-14 · Original thread
Hi OP, I'm the same. I work out and keep myself in good shape, but tend to let my brain wander to thoughts like what if my heart just stops. I can't engineer a solution for myself, but I will be fully conscious of the fact that my body is failing me. It's terrifying, and you're not alone.

I don't have the right answers for you because I'm in a very similar position, but I can try to relieve parts of your existential anxiety. I used to think how crappy it was when you read on the news that some innocent bystander got shot or a freak accident occurred and someone died and how that could've been me. Ultimately, we should only worry about the things we have complete or partial control over. We are all susceptible to heart attacks, but we can also mitigate its probability through healthy diet and exercise. We are all susceptible to getting shot, but we can also mitigate its probability by choosing where we spend our time.

There will always be things we have no control over, but we should only concern ourselves with the things we do.

I would also recommend checking out "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy"[1] by William B. Irvine. It's been suggested on HN occasionally and it offers a philosophy on death as well as what I mentioned above (letting go of things you don't have control over).


Reminds me a bit of this book on a modern take on stoicism:

Had a part about negative visualization where one would contemplate the negative aspects of life as much as the positive as a sort of counterbalance to hedonic adaptation. One would fall into a good life as being the norm and start to become overly negative about inconsequential aspects of it and hope for the next step up where the cycle would repeat. Instead, using this negative visualisation thing, one would contemplate how life would be without a paying job or a family or arms which I suppose leads to positive thoughts about having such things.

saminiir · 2015-03-28 · Original thread
I'm not an expert in philosophy, but stoicism is something I definitely look forward practicing to. I just finished reading and Aurelius' Meditations.

The thing most resonates with me in stoicism is the fatalistic outlook. Everything that happens, has already happened and will continue to happen. Eases my anxiety.

The negative visualization described in the book is also a powerful technique. It puts one's petty problems into perspective and actually makes you grateful for things you have.

Overall, I think the central idea of it is the ability to feel joy - something that can be derived from the state of tranquility rather than pleasure of the senses. And of course, to treat other people to the best of your abilities and at the same time acknowledging how flawed beings we are.

bzalasky · 2015-03-06 · Original thread
There was another thread about anxiety a while back, and someone mentioned how 'A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy' by William B. Irvine had helped them ( I'm about half way through it, and have to say it was a great recommendation.

Stoic philosophy aside, sleep (cutting back on caffeine), exercise and spending time with family and friends helps me.

Evgeny · 2014-12-08 · Original thread
For the mind:

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy - William B. Irvine

Not only a description of the Stoic philosophy, which is, unfortunately, not very well known today, but also a great practical guide to a variety of techniques that can be included into daily activities easily, and will increase happiness.

For the body:

Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength - Steven Low

As I'm growing older (turned 40 last year), I'm no longer inclined to exercise with very heavy weights and was looking into replacing most of the barbell/dumbell exercises in my routine with bodyweight exercise. The book is a great encyclopedia of exercise that can be performed without or with minimal equipment. There are progressions, advice on creating routines, on injury prevention and management and a lot more. There is also a subreddit for those who follow the book

tomwalker · 2014-10-04 · Original thread
A great introduction is "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" by Irvine

teekert · 2014-08-14 · Original thread
"What do you do when you believe that you can do great things but something that you have no control over is holding you back?"

Whoever taught you that made a mistake. This is very typical of our generation (yes me included) we all think we can be the president if we just work hard at it. While all our parents heard was: "You know when you work hard you might own a house, with a garden even!"

Happiness is reality minus expectation. (

And you, your expectations are too big. Yes you can change reality but how hard do you have to work to make it match your expectations of greatness? Perhaps you should just learn to be content with what you have, be happy, who knows what comes on your path. Your alternative is facing a high chance of never being happy with yourself and your achievements.

I'm half way through this book: On the advice of the HN crowd. So far I'm liking the message. Try, regularly, to imagine life without the things you hold dear. Try to want the things you already have.

k2enemy · 2014-03-19 · Original thread
I've been reading about stoicism lately (the ancient philosophy, not the adjective for lack of emotion) and I think that practicing stoics have some nice tools to help people out with this.

One of the primary ways that stoics find tranquility is by "wanting what you already have" instead of "wanting what you don't have." Easier said than done, so they offer some tools to help, inluding negative visualization (imagining life without things you care about), only worrying about things you have control over, and occasionally denying yourself pleasures.

I'm not doing the subject justice, but here's an easy to read book that condenses a lot of their ideas and applies them to modern life: And of course Wikipdeia:

summerdown2 · 2014-03-01 · Original thread
This is excellent advice, and quite ancient, too. I first read of the approach in a guide to Stoic Philosophy, and have been attempting it ever since, with good results :)

avenger123 · 2014-02-05 · Original thread
William Irvine's book -

is a great summary of Seneca and Aristotle's stoic perspectives. It's not a long book and gives a nice overview of the highlights of stoicism.

Simucal · 2013-08-06 · Original thread
I read a book awhile back that kind of embodies the points you made about happiness. It is titled "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" [1].

I feel like your story about the flood would have fit right in with the theme of the book.

One story from the book concerns Musonious, a stoic who is exiled from his home, deprived of his country, family and friends and ultimately forced to live on a "worthless", barren island. Even through all this he is still is able to find happiness by changing his state of mind about his circumstances.


Skoofoo · 2013-02-15 · Original thread
Even if Jonasson's claims are checked out by evidence, nannying a country's population by censoring offensive material is not the right course of action. You do not change public perception or progress society through censorship.

The internet is a new phenomena that has given individuals unprecedented power to indulge in all forms of media. Instead of arbitrarily obstructing information that they deem to be corrupting, the Icelandic government should recommend their citizens to learn the psychology behind desire and addiction [1], perhaps even Stoic philosophy [2], and how to set up a web filter for their children. They should trust that the adults of their country are generally smart enough to think for themselves and do the right thing; anything less is an insult to their intelligence and is likely to foster a mistrust of their government.



jedc · 2013-02-03 · Original thread
The most accessible guide to Stoicism that I've ever found was recommended by Derek Sivers, and written by William Irvine "A Guide to the Good Life".

I really highly recommend it myself. A bit of history of Stoicism, but also a lot of practical advice about how to put it into practice in modern times. (Always going back to the key Stoic thinkers.)

lpolovets · 2013-02-03 · Original thread
If anyone is interested in a book on the subject, I really like William Irvine's "A Guide to the Good Life" (

I have some extensive book notes here:

strlen · 2013-01-27 · Original thread
Along with other commenters, I think our society redefined happiness to mean something it doesn't. I normally dislike self-help books ("The only way to get rich from a self-help book is to write one."), but on someone else's recommend I picked up: "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" by William Irvine ( )

It is written by a philosopher and its aim is to rehabilitate the Stoics and explain how their philosophy could be useful in modern society. I'd highly suggest reading it (along with the works of actual Stoics as well as pre-Socratic philosophers), particularly to those who like the core message of Zen Buddhism but find it less suited to their way of thinking and difficult to practice.

friggeri · 2012-10-14 · Original thread
I can't recommend enough A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy[1]. It's a great and modern introduction to stoicism.


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