Chris Lakin

Summary of Stoicism

The philosophy of Stoicism is not about the absence of emotion, but about emotional preparation. I have practiced this philosophy for several years. Here’s an example:

I had heard nothing yet about my entry’s performance in the science video competition for a large scholarship.

The video I had compiled haphazardly last year had become a finalist. This year I planned a new video. I had spent 400 hours making an entry, and despite my devotion to the art of Stoicism, I was nervous; there was uncertainty at the time about whether my father would keep his job, and how my college might be paid for if he didn’t. However, this video did not become a semifinalist. With the results I found myself burdened with emotions of frustration, confusion, and disappointment—at least, before I returned my Stoic practice.

Stoicism was a tool that allowed me not to be invested in the outcome of the project, despite the large effort that went into creating my entry. This philosophy allows me to focus on the intrinsic nature of my effort, and not the extrinsic nature of the outcome. It gave me the confidence to spend 400 hours on something that might not work out.


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 seems to be 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 where negative emotion is unhelpful.

Unlike other philosophies, Stoicism fully embraces the negative in a way that’s real, and freeing.

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

Most of Stoicism reduces to two elements: Focus, and Expectations.

Read this slowly.

Longer reflection

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


You may wish to take notes.


“Negative visualization”


Focus on what you can control

Seek discomfort

On Living

Interacting with others — protecting your tranquility






Occasionally reflect on your Stoicism


I’ve tried my best to distill Stoicism here in order to make it more accessible for others.

Still, this page is highly dense and unless you take notes and revisit these ideas, you likely will not be changed. But this is in your control.


If you would like to read the book that changed me click the cover. It is complete with stories, superior explanations, and history. 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 March 23.

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