The lockdown measures imposed around the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic leave us with two main problems. Firstly, we need to manage our mindsets and maintain as positive an outlook as possible, despite the circumstances. Secondly, we need to fill our time with productive indoor activities that bring us closer to who we want to be – again, despite the circumstances.
For these reasons, we wanted to provide you with three books that will help you to develop mentally, as well as giving you guidance in and real-world examples of dealing with adversity.
“A Guide to the Good Life” by William B Irvine
Here, Irvine plumbs the wisdom of stoic philosophy, one of the most popular and successful schools of thought in ancient Rome, and shows how its insight and advice are just as relevant now as they were then.
Irvine’s interpretation of Stoicism is both refreshing and completely unique, showing how an admittedly ancient field of philosophy continues to direct us towards a better life. Using the psychological insight and practical techniques of the stoics, Irvine creates a roadmap for anyone seeking to avoid the feelings of chronic dissatisfaction that run rampant when we are on our own, starved of social contact.
“Stillness is the Key” by Ryan Holiday
Drawing once again on stoic philosophy, but blending it with Buddhist teachings too, Holiday shows why slowing down is the secret weapon of those charging ahead and making the best of situations.
Like Irvine, Holiday outlines a path for arriving at an ancient, but urgently necessary way of living. Throughout the book he draws on the teachings of history’s greatest thinkers, from Confucius to Seneca, Marcus Aurelius to Thich Nhat Hanh, John Stuart Mill to Nietzsche. He argues that stillness is more than inactivity, that it is the doorway to self-mastery, discipline and focus – all traits we could all do with sharpening in the situations in which we find ourselves.
“Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E Frankl
Psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s memoir chronicles the hardest parts of his life, giving an uncompromising account of his time in a Nazi concentration camp, but also the spiritual survival lessons he gleaned from such a time.
Using his own experiences, as well as the stories of his patients past and present, Frankl argues that while we cannot avoid suffering – we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it and move forward with renewed vigour and purpose. It has been a tremendously influential read since its publication, continuing to inspire us all to find significance in the very act of living.