These past few months I've read quite a few books of varying topics, from simple fiction to alchemy. Among these books I've read two from Ryan Holiday, his latest I believe, Ego is the Enemy and the most popular The Obstacle is the Way. Both books are quite good but I'll focus this book suggestion post solely on The Obstacle is the Way. I recommend this not only because of the difficult time I have been going through personally but because it has really good insights on how to deal with situations in life.
The Obstacle is the Way is a great portrayal of stoicism, the ancient Greek philosophy of enduring pain or adversity with perseverance and resilience. Stoics focus on the things they can control, let go of everything else, and turn every new obstacle into an opportunity to get better, stronger, tougher. As Marcus Aurelius put it nearly 2000 years ago:
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
The book is rife with amazing quotes and I feel the greatest takeaway is that obstacles are part of our lives, we don't choose them. Once you think that that's the only way you stop questioning why that happened to you. I'd say that it's not that the obstacle is the way, but life is the way. We need to be adaptable. We need to learn to face adversities not as setbacks but learning opportunities.
I know you might say, it is easier said than done. I agree, but I believe we are always ready for what is given to us. The problem is that we neglect that or we try to reason why instead of moving forward, adapting and learning.
"Ryan Holiday, the author, shows us how some of the most successful people in history—from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs—have applied stoicism to overcome difficult or even impossible situations. Their embrace of these principles ultimately mattered more than their natural intelligence, talents, or luck." -- amazon.com
"If you’re feeling frustrated, demoralized, or stuck in a rut, this book can help you turn your problems into your biggest advantages. And along the way it will inspire you with dozens of true stories of the greats from every age and era." -- amazon.com
Heres a video from Ryan about stoicism: Stoic optimism: Ryan Holiday at TEDxUChicago 2014