The Stoic Challenge

A Philosopher's Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient
by William B. Irvine | 224 pages

William B. Irvine is a professor of philosophy at Wright State University. He’s also a fantastic (and prolific) writer. And… Unlike many of his academic, professor-of-philosophy peers, he is a practicing Stoic philosopher. In the words of Donald Robertson (another Stoic author and practitioner; see The Philosophy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), he is both a librarian AND a warrior of the mind. We featured another one of Professor Irvine’s great books on Stoicism called A Guide to the Good Life. I enjoyed that one quite a bit but I REALLY (!) enjoyed this one. Like, jumbo loved it. In fact, I’m going to put this one right at the top of our growing collection of books on Stoicism—along with the must-read classics by Aurelius (Meditations), Seneca (Letters from a Stoic, On the Shortness of Life), and Epictetus (Discourses, Enchiridion) plus the modern classics like Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle Is the Way and The Daily Stoic. If you’re looking for “A Philosopher’s Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient,” I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. I HIGHLY recommend it.


“This book is an exercise in what might be thought of as twenty-first-century Stoicism. In these pages, I have fused the advice given by the first-century Stoic philosophers with the research done by late twentieth-century psychologists. Some in academia will resent me for meddling with classical Stoicism in this manner. They think of Stoicism the way they think of a priceless ancient relic—as something to be kept in a hermetically sealed case, to be seen but not touched. By contrast, I treat Stoicism as a tool that, although in need of sharpening because of the passage of time, is not only still useful but can have a profoundly beneficial impact on modern lives. …

I begin by describing the sorts of setbacks to which we are susceptible and the ways in which we typically respond to them. Although many people become frustrated, angry, anxious, or even despondent, others take setbacks in their stride. How do they do it?

I then explore the psychology of setbacks: why do they affect us emotionally the way they do? I go on to show how, instead of thinking of setbacks merely as unfortunate experiences, we can reframe them as tests of our resilience and ingenuity. Doing this can have a profound impact on how we respond to them. Instead of experiencing a mixture of anger and anxiety, we might be surprised to discover that we are rising enthusiastically to the challenge presented by a setback.

And finally I show how using the Stoic test strategy, besides helping our days go better, can help us have a good life—and when it comes time to make our exit from this world, a good death.”

~ William B. Irvine from The Stoic Challenge

William B. Irvine is a professor of philosophy at Wright State University. He’s also a fantastic (and prolific) writer.

And… Unlike many of his academic, professor-of-philosophy peers, he is a practicing Stoic philosopher. In the words of Donald Robertson (another Stoic author and practitioner; see The Philosophy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), he is both a librarian AND a warrior of the mind.

We featured another one of Professor Irvine’s great books on Stoicism called A Guide to the Good Life. I enjoyed that one quite a bit but I REALLY (!) enjoyed this one. Like, jumbo loved it.

In fact, I’m going to put this one right at the top of our growing collection of books on Stoicism—along with the must-read classics by Aurelius (Meditations), Seneca (Letters from a Stoic, On the Shortness of Life), and Epictetus (Discourses, Enchiridion) plus the modern classics like Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle Is the Way and The Daily Stoic.

If you’re looking for “A Philosopher’s Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient,” I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. I HIGHLY recommend it. (Get a copy here.)

Of course, it’s PACKED (!) with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share a handful of my favorites we can apply to our lives TODAY, so let’s jump straight in!

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About the author

Authors

William B. Irvine

Professor of Philosophy Leading Expert on Stoicism