Letters from a Stoic5 min read

Published by Zach on


The Book in 3 Points

  • Most things are under your control.
  • Don’t be soft.
  • Be a good friend.

Should You Read It?

Some great points, but it is mostly repeats with unfollowable rambling, further complicated by difficult language. It was somewhat funny at points which was surprisingly nice. I found myself losing track of his points throughout the text. If you are really into stoicism or philosophy, pick this pick up, otherwise, you can just read the major takeaways and get the gist of the entire book. However, this is one of the most quotable books ever.

Major Take-Aways

  • You should be able to stay alone for an extended period of time and be ok.
  • Don’t be afraid of hardship. In fact, you should pursue occasional hardship to prepare for when life inevitably becomes difficult.
  • Choose your friends carefully, but once they are your friends, commit to them fully.
  • Everyone who enters your home should admire you rather than your place. It is a great man who can treat his junk as gold and his gold as junk.
  • Associate with people who are likely to improve you, welcome those who you are capable of improving.
  • Nothing valuable can be taken from you because everything valuable, your character, is within you.
  • Most likely, the other person will not take action, realize this, and take action yourself.
  • When something awful happens, you should be sad. Tears are ok but do not lament. Do not let it take over your life. Therefore, go all out to make the most of friends and family since no one can tell how long we shall have the opportunity.
  • You didn’t exist, and you won’t exist, and there will be little to no change in the world.
  • As it is with plays and movies it is with life; it matters not how long the acting lasts but how good it is.
  • Don’t give up, don’t get comfortable, and realize everything is salient.
  • You don’t have to physically be with people to have them inspire you. Let them be with you in your mind. Gandhi, James Bond, Yoda, Seneca, what would they do?
  • Why do you need fancy food? Chicken, vegetables, rice, is there more needed? Seasoning for the sake of seasoning. Similarly, what is the point of cologne? The best scent is no smell at all. Why do you need to alter your perception of the world? The world is so fantastic. Alcohol alters your perception.

Helpful Quotes

  • To be everywhere is to be nowhere. People who spend their whole life traveling abroad end up having plenty of places where they can find hospitality but no real friendship.
  • Nothing hinders a cure so much as frequent change of treatment.
  • It is not the man who has too little who is poor, but the man who hankers after more.
  • Regard him as loyal, and you will make him loyal
  • “Some men have shrunk so far into dark corners that objects in bright daylight seem quite blurred to them” – Pomponious
  • Inwardly everything should be different, but our outward face should conform with the crowd.
  • There is no enjoying the possession of anything valuable unless one has someone to share it with.
  • What fortune has made yours is not your own [..] the boon that could be given can be withdrawn
  • If there is anything in a particular friendship that attracts a man other than the friendship itself, the attraction of some reward or other will counterbalance that of the friendship. (important one)
  • A man is unhappy, though he reign the world over, if he does not consider himself supremely happy.
  • To live under constraint is a misfortune, but there is no constraint to live under constraint.
  • Set aside now and then a number of days during which you will be content with the plainest of food, and very little of it, and with rough, coarse clothing, and will ask yourself, “is this what one used to dread?”
  • One tree by itself never calls for admiration when the whole forest rises to the same height.
  • A spiritless lot [..]Forever acting as interpreters and never as creators, always lurking in someone else’s shadow.
  • But surely you are going to walk in your predecessors’ footsteps? Yes, indeed, I shall use the old road, but if I find a shorter and easier one, I shall open it up. The men who pioneered the old routes are leaders, not our masters. There has yet to be a monopoly of truth. And there is plenty of it left for future generations too.
  • Why does no one admit his failings? Because he’s still deep in them, it’s the person who’s awakened who recounts his dream, and acknowledging one’s failings is a sign of health.
  • There’s nothing so very great about living – all your slaves and all the animals do it. What is, however, the great thing is to die in a manner which is honorable, enlightened, and courageous. Think how long now you’ve been doing the same as them – food, sleep, sex, and the never-ending cycle. The desire for death can be experienced not merely by the enlightened or the brave or the unhappy but even by the squeamish.
  • What use is it to me to be able to divide a piece of land into equal areas if I’m unable to divide it with a brother?
  • Cicero “For Fate The willing leads, the unwilling drags along”
  • A person going out into the sun, whether or not this is what he is going out for, will acquire a tan. Customers who sit around rather too long in a shop selling perfumes carry the scent of the place with them.
  • Shame on him, who lies in bed dozing when the sun is high in the sky, whose waking hours commence in the middle of the day.
  • Devotion to what is right is simple. Devotion to what is wrong is complex and admits of infinite variations.
Categories: Book Notes


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