Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness

This felt like a dime-store read – thin, scraggly, nearly meaningless – which was the opposite of what I’d hoped for. The fault lies mostly in the “interpretation” of the text, which Lebell loudly shouts to us, “it’s not a translation! it’s an interpretation!” I’m left wary and reluctant to even post up some of the bits that snagged my attention. I’ve heard good things about the Robin Hard translation of Epictetus’s Discourses, so will look to get my paws on a copy of that for deeper reading. The Stoics are all about accepting what you can’t change and changing what you can; the whole tome very reminiscent of all the reading I’ve been doing about meditation, Tao, etc. React mindfully to events – if someone yells at you, react with patience, do it over and over to build habit. If someone provokes you, your response is what’s irritating you, don’t react in the moment but take a wider view. “Who exactly do you want to be? What kind of person?… it’s time to stop being vague… explicitly identify the person you want to become.”
Some relevant words on avoiding popular entertainment:

Most of what passes for legitimate entertainment is inferior or foolish and only caters to or exploits people’s weaknesses. Avoid being one of the mob who indulges in such pastimes. Your life is too short and you have important things to do. Be discriminating about what images and ideas you permit into your mind… It is the easiest thing in the world to slide imperceptibly into vulgarity. But there’s no need for that to happen if you determine not to waste your time and attention on mindless pap.

How to use books:

Don’t just say you have read books. Show that through them you have learned to think better, to be a more discriminating and reflective person. Books are the training weights of the mind. They are very helpful, but it would be a bad mistake to suppose that one has made progress simply by having internalized their contents.