The ancient roots of self-help - Deepstash

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Stoicism: Foundations Of Self-Help

  • Founded by Zeno, Stoicism states that our emotions get their wings by our thoughts, while our feelings are based on our beliefs. The key to living is to be virtuous and move in harmony with nature. Bad things will keep happening, just don't’ get so hung up by that.
  • Marcus Aurelius, a great Stoic thinker, wrote that if we are pained by an external factor, our own judgement about that is the problem. It is in our own hands to change our judgement.
  • Psychotherapy, or paying attention to ourselves and the wellbeing of our souls was suggested by Socrates, while he was facing execution.

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A Philosophical Consolation

  • The Roman philosopher Boethius was on death row as he fell out of favour with the King in the year 524 AD. He wrote his last work, Consolations in Philosophy while awaiting death.
  • He wrote about why bad things happen, why bad men prosper and live in wealth, while good men stay poor and get killed.
  • The life manual written on the brink of death became highly popular in the middle ages, read by people like Queen Elizabeth I and King Alfred.

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The Prince

In the 16th century, Niccolo Macchiavelli’s The Prince became a huge hit among kings and politicians.

The book suggested certain immoral ways to rule a kingdom, with famous advice like ‘The end justifies the means’. The guidelines resonated so much that the book is still a huge influence.

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The Anatomy of Melancholy

In the 16th Century, Robert Burton wrote about the human condition, which can be classified as melancholy, a big book consisting of sad tales about everything, but written in a simple, readable style.

It was like an encyclopedia of misery, with the writer meditating on sad things just to keep his mind off them.

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Self-Help: The Book

Self-published in the 19th century, ‘Self-help’ by Samuel Smiles illustrated and executed the power of perseverance.

It was an international bestseller, kickstarting the ‘self-help’ genre itself after making the publishing industry sit up and take notice.

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