A Handbook for New Stoics Summary By Massimo Pigliucci and Gregory Lopez

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A Handbook For New Stoics (2019) is a go-to guidebook that provides an in-depth look into the Stoicism philosophy.

It contains helpful overviews and guides to help readers get started right away, transitioning from a beginner to an advanced student of this popular school of thought.

The book begins with a broad review of the topics in Stoic philosophy, such as virtue, self-discipline, resilience, and courage.

It then dives into chapter by chapter discussions of more advanced topics like identifying one’s values and living according to them using various activities and exercises provided throughout the book.

The authors also provide practical advice on how to use this ancient wisdom in modern times for managing stress and anxiety, improving relationships, and finding life balance.

A Handbook for New Stoics

Book Name: A Handbook for New Stoics (How to Thrive in a World Out of Your Control)

Author(s): Massimo Pigliucci and Gregory Lopez

Rating: 4.6/5

Reading Time: 23 Minutes

Categories: Personal Development

Author Bio

Massimo Pigliucci is a renowned scholar of philosophy, as well as an esteemed practitioner of Stoicism.

He holds a professorship at City College in New York and is also an active member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

His immense knowledge in the fields of both philosophy and Stoicism have been featured in many widely acclaimed publications such as Philosophy Now, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

Massimo Pigliucci's book, "A Handbook for New Stoics" outlines his vast knowledge in these areas to help guide readers on their journey to becoming Stoic scholars.

How Stoicism Can Help Us Live Happier, More Fulfilling Lives

Live Happier

Stoicism has been around for thousands of years and is still popular among many people today.

It’s a philosophy that emphasizes reason and logic, and teaches us ways to navigate difficult social situations and make virtuous decisions.

It is the perfect way to help you avoid the pitfalls of modern life while providing a framework for living life with virtue and serenity.

If you’re new to Stoicism or just want to learn more about it, then A Handbook for New Stoics was written specifically with you in mind.

It will provide you with an introduction to this ancient but ever-persistent philosophy, showing you the basics of what it can teach us on how best to live our lives.

The book will also explain how journaling can help you become a better Stoic, as well as touching on what Stoicism has in common with mindfulness.

Whether you consider yourself a novice or an expert in the practice of Stoicism, you won’t want to miss out on the wisdom this handbook has to offer!

The Stoic Path to Happiness: How to Live In Accordance With Nature To Achieve a Peaceful Existence

Most of us don’t want to live an unhappy life.

We are constantly searching for ways to avoid unhappiness, and some of the greatest minds have asked themselves what causes it and how we can avoid it.

Psychological therapies, medical treatments, and other methods have been developed over the years, but one reliable philosophy remains: Stoicism.

Stoicism has a long history that stretches back nearly 2000 years, which speaks to its relevance even today.

Many of its core tenets are echoed in cognitive behavioral therapy and other modern therapeutic practices.

For example, one of the most important parts of Stoicism is learning how to focus on those things that are in your control instead of dwelling on what isn’t.

All too often we’re disappointed by opinions (others or our own), bad luck, traffic delays, poor health or finances – all things that ultimately don’t bring us happiness because they’re out of our control.

The goal is then to learn how to free ourselves from worrying about such external influences and instead focus our energies on those elements that do bring genuine gratification – things within our power like quality relationships, meaningful work and wisdom-seeking.

This is what the philosophy of Stoicism teaches – an acceptance for those things outside our control but also a celebration for their inner self in all its nuances; understanding human nature comes first when seeking a peaceful existence according to nature.

The Three-Fold Practice of Stoicism: Understanding What Is and Isn’t in Your Control


In A Handbook for New Stoics, the authors present nine exercises that will give readers a good grasp of the Stoic practice.

These nine exercises are divided into three categories: The Discipline of Desire, the Discipline of Action, and the Discipline of Assent.

Each discipline is designed to help readers improve their character and be better people.

The first exercise, as outlined by Epictetus in his surviving works, is centered around the dichotomy of control which states that only a few things are within our complete control.

Specifically, he suggests that thought, impulse and the decision to avoid or get something can all be controlled.

It’s important to note that Epictetus isn’t referring to controlling which thoughts or impulses enter our minds; rather he’s speaking about how we judge those thoughts or impulses and whether or not we act on them.

The Discipline of Desire teaches us how to look at those judgements with an open mind so that we can choose wisely whether or not to act on them.

Focusing on Character Rather Than Outcomes: The Discipline of Desire

When it comes to life, the most important thing to pay attention to is not necessarily what’s happening outside of our control, but instead what’s within our control – namely, our character.

As illustrated by Stoic philosophy from as far back as 300 BCE, many of our desires and temptations haven’t changed over time.

Despite outer forces trying to steer us down a different path than the one that aligns with our own values and beliefs, only we can ultimately make decisions about how we choose to live our lives.

Therefore, if we want to better manage compulsive desires like food, sex, alcohol and drugs that can harm or even destroy lives, then recognizing that these are out of our hands is an important first step.

To be able to build up the will required for self-control though, one has to refocus on internal factors such as choices and actions.

After all, regardless of whether positive or negative outcomes arise when striving for excellence in any situation – be it achieving success at work or staying healthy – doing your best will always be within your power.

In that sense, a Stoic perspective allows us to accept outside events while freeing ourselves from worrying over results that remain beyond our sphere of influence.

Conversely, creating a mindset whereby you know you did you best no matter the outcome puts the focus squarely on character above all else – knowing that this is something entirely under your control.

Embrace Impermanence for a Calm, Equanimous Life: The Stoic Philosophy of Preparing for the Inevitable

Equanimous Life

Stoics have long emphasized the important of understanding that life, possessions, and circumstances are all impermanent.

Marcus Aurelius in particular experienced first-hand what it meant to understnad ths concept when five million Romans died during his reign while he also lost four of his 13 children to adulthood.

Rather than accepting a cold, callous attitude related to life’s impermanence, Stoics actually believe it is incredibly important to strive for equanimity, which ultimately leads to a greater level of serenity and cool-headedness no matter the situation at hand.

By remembering that things in life may come and go and embracing this concept as part of nature can lead people to appreciate and be grateful for the good times even more while also providing such individuals with greater resilience during difficult moments because it provides them with an understanding that such hardships will eventually pass as well.

The Discipline of Action in Stoicism: Preparing Yourself for Difficult Situations and People

It’s important to remember that when it comes to the Discipline of Action, preparation is key.

To practice Stoicism is to live a life in harmony with nature and to remain tranquil no matter what kind of adversity you may face in life.

To do this, it’s essential that you are well prepared for any situation you may confront.

A great example of this comes from Roman philosopher Epictetus.

He recommends that if we’re heading into a place like public baths, then we should prepare ourselves in advance to expect people who act foolishly and unethically.

After all, such behavior is simply a part of human nature, so there’s no use getting angry or surprised by it – instead, we must plan for it so we don’t lose our temper in the heat of the moment and be regretful afterwards.

This falls perfectly in line with Marcus Aurelius’ advice as well; he said that it was prudent for us to remind ourselves every morning that there will probably be people out there who have negative intentions towards us – selfishness, jealousy, violence and dishonesty chief among them – so that when these encounters occur (because they inevitably will) we remain indifferent and collected rather than surprise or offended.

Journaling is an Essential Tool for Strengthening Your Stoic Practice


Journaling is an essential and invaluable tool for those just starting their Stoic practice.

It serves a variety of purposes, from helping in the Discipline of Action to providing an opportunity for self-reflection and inner growth.

Marcus Aurelius’ famous work Meditations, which is made up entirely of his journals, highlights this fact.

Not only do we learn more about his philosophies, but it’s also a reminder that learning to be a Stoic is a continual process that requires constant effort.

The authors of “A Handbook For New Stoics” give journaling as another key component in practicing Stoicism.

It’s the perfect end-of-day exercise because it allows us to take account of our successes and failures and reflect on how we can better tackle our difficulties next time.

Additionally, by writing down what we have been able to control and accept the things outside our power, it helps us identify areas that need our attention and apply key tough principles such as understanding impermanence.

Journaling as part of your Stoic practice can truly be life-changing.

If you want to start becoming a true Stoic philosopher then remember – always keep your journal handy!

The Discipline of Assent: Learning to View First Impressions With Logic and Reason

In the Discipline of Assent, Stoics aim to gain mastery over their thoughts.

Specifically, they focus on mastering their ability to catch and counter initial impressions.

In other words, Stoics learn to control those snap judgments that we so often make without a second thought.

Epictetus believed that controlling our thoughts is one of the three things within our complete control – thoughts, impulses, and the will to avoid and to get.

As such, by learning to master our thoughts in the Discipline of Assent we’re able to exercise more restraint when it comes to making decisions and reacting emotionally.

The key message here is: when we make assumptions about people or events and form snap judgments, we must pay attention to them and confront them with reason instead of rashly jumping into conclusion.

We can actually practice speaking it aloud – “You are but an impression, and not at all what you seem to be” – as this may help us remember that first impressions aren’t always correct.

Furthermore, questioning these intrusive thoughts becomes the next step in understanding why those feelings arise and helping us become more thoughtful in our decision-making process.

Using Stoic Principles to Cultivate Character and Self-Reflection Through Mindfulness Meditation


Stoicism provides a process for better understanding yourself and your behavior.

It focuses on certain principles that, when internalized and kept with you always, can help you build better character.

The idea is to identify the emotions and impulses that take control of us so that we can control them.

That way, we don’t let the chaotic aspects of our lives dominate our actions.

By understanding these principles and internalizing them, we can learn to think more objectively about tough situations and give ourselves more discipline in responding accordingly.

Through regular practices such as self-reflection and meditation, we can incorporate these principles into our daily lives which makes it easier to live a virtuous life and make decisions that improve our character.

By constantly reminding yourself to choose the right decision over easy pleasures, Stoicism allows us to become emotionally stable, have greater equanimity in life, and possibly be happier in the long run.

This brings peace of mind by helping us make decisions that are not dictated by negative emotions or desires for gratification.

Wrap Up

A Handbook for New Stoics offers a concise and yet comprehensive look at the ancient philosophy of Stoicism.

It covers the basics, such as living in harmony with nature and understanding the dichotomy of control, but also dives into the three Stoic disciplines—Desire, Action and Assent.

The primary advice gleaned from A Handbook for New Stoics is for readers to let go of value judgments related to external factors that are not in your control.

According to Stoic philosophy, only things related to one’s character can be assigned with labels like “good” or “bad.” Ascribing these labels on physical objects or abstract ideas, creates confusion and diverts us away from what really matters – virtue.

Ultimately, this book serves as an excellent introduction to Stoicism for those who are new to this ancient school of thought – equipping them with everything they need to understand its basic concepts and practice it in their day-to-day lives.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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