The Obstacle Is the Way

A while back I read, The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph, a book by Ryan Holiday. This is a fantastic book to introduce you into stoicism.

What is stoicism you ask? It is an ancient Greek school of philosophy in Athens. The school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge, and that the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason that governs nature, and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain. That was straight from Google, I would never use “vicissitudes” in a sentence, I’m not that smart and if we’re being completely honest I’m not 100% sure what that word even means.

Basically, stoicism is enduring a trial without having a nervous breakdown. Not only not having a breakdown, but actually becoming better because of your trial. My nerdy husband and I started reading some of the original stoics works. They have lots of good tidbits in them, but definitely read like an ancient book. I only read a page or two at a time. 

The Obstacle Is the Way takes the ideas of the stoics and puts it into modern writing that everyone can understand. My only hang up with this book, and the reason I haven’t wanted to share it, is that it swears a lot in the book and it is completely unnecessary. I still let my older kids read it because I thought it was such a great book and apparently I’m trying to raise heathens, but I have a hard time recommending it to anyone else because of the language. I’m sure my mom senses are making it worse than it was because my boys said that it wasn’t too bad, but it’s in there nonetheless. 

As I continue to study all about emotions and mental health all the ideas that people are suggesting come from the stoics. I really enjoyed reading about stoicism in layman’s terms and it gave me some great scaffolding in being able to understand the original works.

Some of the topics covered in the book are: live in the present moment, think differently, find the opportunity, the discipline of action, use obstacles against themselves, and one of my favorites, meditate on your own mortality. Those are just a few of the many topics covered.

I absolutely enjoyed the book and so did my husband. I would recommend this book with the warning that it does have language in it.