“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