Tag Archives: living

CollegeQandA book review: A Guide to the Good Life

Book Review: A Guide to the Good Life

A Guide to the Good Life book cover

A Guide to the Good Life is written by Irvine, a Philosophy professor, who helps us understand and has implemented in his own life, a life philosophy based on roman stoicism.  Stoics were one of many Greek philosophies that has survived in writings and had a popular philosophy school in Greek life.  Stoic philosophers discovered and worked on thought  ideas, but also focused on their life philosophy – a way of living with joy.  The thesis the author puts forth is that stoic practices can be a guide to the good life in our modern day.  In particular, a life philosophy might be a path for some of us to find joy.

The book is split into four parts:

  • Part 1 – looks a the history of Stoic Philosophy and explains why the book focuses on the Roman Stoics as opposed to the early Greeks.
  • Part 2 – looks into Psychological tricks/practices that stoics used in their life philosophy.
  • Part 3 – looks at stoic values and how they relate to their practice.
  • Part 4 – the author looks at our modern life and how the practice of stoics can fit with a modern life.

The best part of this book, from my perspective, is that many of the ideas from the stoics is summarized and packaged well so that I can understand them.  In the past, I have tried to understand a variety of philosophies/religions including Stoicism, Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. but the historical texts can be very difficult to read and relate to.  Irvine does a good job at explaining many stoic ideas in his book and creates a succinct review of how to practice stoicism.

Does this book relate to CollegeQandA?

This is a broader question since this book looks at a philosophy of life.  This is a BIG metaphysical question that needs to be asked and thought about by each of us individually.  Some specific ideas in the book, including negative visualization, seem to be applicable to helping us understand our needs in the world.  These ideas do not directly relate to college, but similar to the ideas in mindfulness and meta-thinking, I believe that better understanding and control of ourselves relates to how we learn.

I would recommend this book to…

the “interested in life” and “how to think better” people.   This means that, irrespective of your current beliefs and way of life, you are interested in other approaches to life and wonder how to improve your own mind.


CollegeQandA asks: What should I pack for College – 2015 list?

Start with a smartcut

As I learned from the book Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success, don’t do something more than once if possible.  Well, packing is one of those things you can do multiple times a year depending on your various trips.  Engineering Solution – a spreadsheet with little boxes that allows you to print out a packing list instantly and not forget what you need to bring and improve your packing over time.

picture of my latest packing list
My smartcut packing list ready for my next trip

Here is CollegeQandA’s 2015 college packing list – what should I pack for college.  You are welcome to customize this list for your own needs, but this will get you started on making your printable check list.  Then, when you realize you forgot something, then just add it to your list so that you have it next year.

Can we improve on this list?

One thing to remember is that I do not pack to go to a dorm or an apartment for 8 to 9 months.  So, I’m interested to see what suggestions you have to add to the list.  I will add these to the shared document so we can improve the list over time and help future generations pack for college.

How should I pack?

Because you are, likely, to be moving in and moving out quite often, your best bet is to find some packable box format that becomes furniture or is usable in other ways.  In our day, this was optimized by the milk crate.  These could carry items in and out, but were strong enough to raise your bed, make into bookshelves, or create other forms of furniture.

The best reason to use milk crates is that they are unit size boxes that can be carried by a handle, stored somewhat optimally, and they’re built to hold heavy things.