Chris Lakin

Summary of Stoicism

I had been stalking little blips of information online about the competition, but had heard nothing about the performance of my entry. I was nervous. Soon, the results were published. The project I had worked on for four hundred hours and poured myself into? It didn’t move on.

First I noticed searing in my stomach. A quantity of anger. Next I detected confusion. Last, I found myself settling into a depression. 

But in a few hours, my Stoicism returned. 

The philosophy of Stoicism is not about the absence of emotion, but about emotional preparation.

Despite the effort I had invested, I had made myself expect that my entry would not progress in the competition. I worked as hard as I could, of course, but reality wouldn’t care how good I thought the entry was.

The null expectations I set allowed my mind to move on quickly. Within two days, I had totally forgotten about my initial emotions, and out of mere indifference I stopped thinking about what happened. No compulsive mental nagging occurred thereafter.


When I was fifteen I encountered Stoicism through the book A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine.

As measured by real-life impact, this is likely the best book I’ve ever read. The philosophy has done me a lot of good, so I’d like to share it.

This page consists of notes from the book, and related thoughts that come to my mind.

Stoicism as a philosophy is not at all described by the word “Stoic” as used in modern English; Stoicism has no disposition against joy. Instead, Stoicism is about avoiding negative emotion in the cases when negative emotion is unhelpful.

Crucially, Stoicism starts its reasoning from the worst that things could possibly be and builds up from there.

I’ll provide a quick summary of its tenants before going into more detail.

Stoicism mostly reduces to two elements: Focus, and Expectations.

Longer reflection

Categories: “Negative visualization”, Appreciation, Focus, Comfort, On Living, Interacting with others, Criticism, Anger, Impulses, Randomness, Miscellaneous, and Reflect on your Stoicism.


“Negative visualization”


Focus on what you can control

Don’t get too comfortable

On Living

Interacting with others — protecting your tranquility






Occasionally reflect on your Stoicism


I’ve tried my best to distill Stoicism here to be more accessible.

And, congratulations, you may have just taken philosophical advice from an 18 year old! Heh heh...


If you would like to read the book, complete with stories, superior explanations, and history, click the cover. This book has given me no reason to read any other books on Stoicism.

Because this is an Amazon affiliate link, I’m required to say, “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”


Posted 2020 July, last updated 2021 February 16.

Get notified when new essays are posted.