What comes to mind when I say stoic?
Okay, maybe that's not entirely fair. Maybe you pictured some stony-faces like the ones chiselled into the side of Mount Rushmore (ha). Very serious. Very dignified. Very... stoic.
Except not at all. Stoicism (which, like the beret, would seem to be having a revival) is a pratical philosophy which initially flourished in the classical Greek and Roman empires, and continues to be put into practise by countless successful men and women today. Predominantly a system of personal ethics, Stocisim teaches that the way to happiness is by accepting our present situation, and understanding while we cannot control external forces, we can control the way in which we respond to them, and in turn, what we take away from any given situation.
The Obstacle is the Way is not strictly an exploration of Stoicism, but digs down into one facet of the philosophy— what to do when shit gets in one's way. Holiday presents a series or short, digestible chapters (most of which could be read in about ten minutes) combining practical advice, and anecdotal stories of real, successful people applying the these parts of the Stoic philosophy to their lives. Despite the term 'philosophy' sounding very armchair, much of what is discussed here is practical and instantly applicable to your own life.
"Remember that this moment is not your life, it's just a moment in your life."
Holiday's main point? The things that get in your way are actually illuminating new options and opportunities. And our problems? Precisely as bad as we think they are.
Whether it's learning to focus on each individual moment of a longer process rather than the final result, understanding how to use moments of crisis for transformation, or learning to genuinely love the opportunity to prove yourself in the face of adversity, The Obstacle is the Way gives clear, straight-forward advice without the usual bloat of so many self-help-cum-philosophy books. (There are also handy references sections at the end for both print and digital reading on Stoicism, as well as how to get reading recommendations straight from Holiday himself via his newsletter).
"Being trapped is a position, not a fate."
Holiday shows how the things that cause us strife, stress, frustration, and unhappiness are really the parts of our life we should be embracing as they show us the path forward to become stronger, wiser, more resillient, and more fulfilled people, and how to harness these moments for our own personal transformation.