Book Summary — The Little Book of Stoicism [Jonas Salzberger]

Fynn Comerford
11 min readMay 3, 2023

This article briefly summarizes the book “The Little Book of Stoicism” by Jonas Salzberger. It covers the core ideas and concepts of Stoicism, including the Stoic philosophy of life, emotional resilience, and the practical “art of living” dimension of Stoicism. It also includes Stoic practices and aphorisms that can help readers incorporate Stoic principles into their daily lives.

  1. The Stoics understood that there is only a loose connection between external circumstances and our happiness. Many people who’ve pursued and achieved their dreams of golden cars and drea mansions are not much happier than they were before.
  2. Never set aside what you think is best to do — The formula is broken: Most people think along the lines of “If I finish/get/achieve X, THEN, I’ll be happy. This Reminds me of “sometimes later becomes never”.
  3. Every life situation presents a blank canvas or block of marble that we can sculpt and shape, mastering the craft over our lifetime. Stoicism teaches us to face adversity with calmness
  4. The Practical “Art of Living” Dimension of Stoicism holds 2 promises: The first one is Eudaimonia — the ultimate goal of life is to become good (eu) with your inner daimon (not demon) = live in harmony with your highest self. You need to close the gap between who you could become (ideal self) and who you are. How? With areté, which means to express the highest version of yourself in every moment — Stoicism is lived with every moment, it deals with our moment-to-moment actions. Now, you can only live in eudaimonia (good with inner spirit) if you (try to) align every action of every moment with your ideal self. This leads to “happiness from a smoothly flowing life” as Zeno, the founder of stoicism would put it. The second promise is emotional resilience: Stoics identified strong emotions as our ultimate weakness, particularly if we let them dictate our behaviour. That doesn’t mean to be unemotional — their interpretation and their consequences matter, not the actual emergence of emotions. What we need is apatheia = the ability to overcome interfering emotions. Not hiding or suppressing emotions but acknowledging, understanding their cause, and learning to not necessarily act upon them. Emotions activate “action tendencies”, but we do not need to…

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Fynn Comerford

CoS at Lorentz Bio | Frequency Bio Fellow | Neuroscience at The University of Edinburgh | Founder of edventure | iGEM 2020 | Videographer