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Stoic at Work by Annie Lawson


It’s fun to imagine how the pitch for this book may have gone. “Here’s a book that aligns the ancient teaching in Meditations by Marcus Aurelius with the modern issues of working in an office. Don’t worry, it works!” Perhaps the biggest sell may be the fact that the troubles that Marcus Aurelius had - conveniently quoted at the end of each of the chapters - seem to align with the issues that so many of us have in our daily lives. Some things, as they say, are timeless.


Take the first words of the introduction for example. They set up a narrative that runs throughout the text and creates a humorous and poignant approach to the subject:


It is Tuesday. The worst day of the week. Nothing good happens on a Tuesday.”


Artfully connected with the direct quote from Marcus Aurelius on the page adjacent: “At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work - as a human being… I’m going to do what I was born for … or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm.”


Yes, it seems even the greatest minds of all time have the same feelings of snuggling and feeling some sense of despondence.


The book is laugh out loud funny. It’s something often said but rarely true. On three occasions during the reading of this book there were comments enquiring about the book due to the audible nature of the response. That’s not a normal occurrence. It’s well written, timely, quite insightful and practical above all else.

The connection between the ancient text and the modern environment is scarily accurate many times. Some feel a little strained, but with 50 examples that makes some sense. Not everything is going to logically link across the generations. People have been, and will always be, people. Frustrating, wonderful, annoying and challenging to understand.

This book won’t help you change much about your situation, but it will certainly bring some commentary into the workplace, and the quotes from Aurelius provide a great insight into the psychology of the individual. Well worth a read!


Reviewer: Chris Reed

Murdoch Books

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