William Irvine on Contamination

“We are social creatures; we will be miserable if we try to cut off contact with other people. Therefore, if what we seek is tranquility, we should form and maintain relations with others. In doing so, though, we should be careful about whom we befriend. We should also, to the extent possible, avoid people whose values are corrupt, for fear that their values will contaminate ours.”

~ Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (p. 228). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

William Irvine on Fame and Fortune

“In particular, we should use reason to convince ourselves that things such as fame and fortune aren’t worth having—not, at any rate, if what we seek is tranquility—and therefore aren’t worth pursuing. Likewise, we should use our reasoning ability to convince ourselves that even though certain activities are pleasurable, engaging in those activities will disrupt our tranquility, and the tranquility lost will outweigh the pleasure gained.”

~ Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (p. 227). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

William Irvine on Happiness

“Many of us have been persuaded that happiness is something that someone else, a therapist or a politician, must confer on us. Stoicism rejects this notion. It teaches us that we are very much responsible for our happiness as well as our unhappiness. It also teaches us that it is only when we assume responsibility for our happiness that we will have a reasonable chance of gaining it.”

~ Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (pp. 221-222). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

William Irvine on a Good Life

“The most important reason for adopting a philosophy of life, though, is that if we lack one, there is a danger that we will mislive—that we will spend our life pursuing goals that aren’t worth attaining or will pursue worthwhile goals in a foolish manner and will therefore fail to attain them.”

~ Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (p. 203). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

William Irvine on Other People’s Opinions

“Marcus agrees with Epictetus that it is foolish for us to worry about what other people think of us and particularly foolish for us to seek the approval of people whose values we reject. Our goal should therefore be to become indifferent to other people’s opinions of us. He adds that if we can succeed in doing this, we will improve the quality of our life.”

~ Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (p. 168). Oxford University Press.

William Irvine on Being Sensitive

“If we are overly sensitive, we will be quick to anger. More generally, says Seneca, if we coddle ourselves, if we allow ourselves to be corrupted by pleasure, nothing will seem bearable to us, and the reason things will seem unbearable is not because they are hard but because we are soft.”

~ Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (p. 161). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

William Irvine on Insults

“WHEN INSULTED, people typically become angry. Because anger is a negative emotion that can upset our tranquility, the Stoics thought it worthwhile to develop strategies to prevent insults from angering us—strategies for removing, as it were, the sting of an insult. One of their sting-elimination strategies is to pause, when insulted, to consider whether what the insulter said is true. If it is, there is little reason to be upset.”

~ Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (p. 144). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

William Irvine on Other People

“In our dealings with others, we should operate on the assumption that they are fated to behave in a certain way.”

~ Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (p. 138). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

William Irvine on Annoying People

“When dealing with an annoying person, it also helps to keep in mind that our annoyance at what he does will almost invariably be more detrimental to us than whatever it is he is doing. In other words, by letting ourselves become annoyed, we only make things worse.”

~ Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (p. 137). Oxford University Press.

William Irvine on Stoic Self-Denial

“Indeed, by practicing Stoic self-denial techniques over a long period, Stoics can transform themselves into individuals remarkable for their courage and self-control. They will be able to do things that others dread doing, and they will be able to refrain from doing things that others cannot resist doing. They will, as a result, be thoroughly in control of themselves. This self-control makes it far more likely that they will attain the goals of their philosophy of life, and this in turn dramatically increases their chances of living a good life.”

Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (p. 116). Oxford University Press.

William Irvine on Control

“A practicing Stoic will keep the trichotomy of control firmly in mind as he goes about his daily affairs. He will perform a kind of triage in which he sorts the elements of his life into three categories: those over which he has complete control, those over which he has no control at all, and those over which he has some but not complete control. The things in the second category—those over which he has no control at all—he will set aside as not worth worrying about. In doing this, he will spare himself a great deal of needless anxiety. He will instead concern himself with things over which he has complete control and things over which he has some but not complete control.”

Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (pp. 100-101). Oxford University Press.