William Ferraiolo’s newest book, Meditations on Self-Discipline and Failure: Stoic Exercises for Mental Fitness, is written in the style of philosophical approach based on the Stoics. While the word ‘stoic’ means to endure pain and suffering without complaining or showing your feelings, a Stoic, with a capital S, dates back to 300 B.C. when someone named Zeno founded Stoicism, a systematic philosophy that taught people that they should be free from passion, unmoved by joy or grief, and that they should submit to unavoidable situations in life without complaint.
Ferraiolo’s tone and posturing parallels the philosophies he prescribes to, completely. He confronts readers, challenges them to face reality, ‘look it in the eye’ as he uncovers common human feelings and situations that may lead to dysfunctional affective states such as depression, anxiety, guilt and so on.
He holds readers to a higher sense of truth, has them look at their own self-defeating desires to control other people as well as hold onto delusions such as: politicians will tell the truth; people will not be biased, prejudiced, hateful, and so on.
Along with the introduction, there are 30 “books”, not chapters. There’s only 163 pages but this content, the way it is presented and the depth of reflection possible if one sits with the words and contemplates what they mean to the self, it might be a year before you are done.
Reading the PDF version that I received, I considered our current political climate, our current state of war and hate, of destruction of self and other. Ferraiolo’s direct approach spoke to me as a potential place for people to go who respond to and respect this type of challenge, perhaps responding to a more confrontational style. I can see therapists with clients who need a more down-to –basics citation, and Ferraiolo is qualified to do so, with wit and a sense of, I’m here too. The book is written in second person, so it addresses “you” the reader, the author is talking to you with no space for nonsense or self-aggrandizement.
It’s hard for me to capture the essence of the meditations—Ferraiolo writes things like: “You are slightly smarter than an ape or dolphin” (pg. 23) and “Complaining about an insect bit is an indication of an irrational petulance . . . When the inevitable occurs, only a foolish child whines about it” (pp. 70-71). There are statements that resonated with me . . . “practice gratitude” (pg. 24), “Your voices are your own”, “Do not blame nature, environment, or hereditary for your failures” (pg.25) and “Everything that can suffer, does suffer” (pg. 163).
But to capture the quality of this book, of Ferraiolo’s writing, you have to read his writing. I offer some of his work, with hopes that his publisher will not be too upset with the length of quotes I’m sharing. Believe me, it’s a drop in the bucket in terms of the entirety of his text. I hope these small snippets capture your interest as his writing did mine, and that you take time to read more.
To read our complete review, please CLICK HERE for our PDF
Curious? Want to read more? We offer our gratitude to William Ferraiolo for his permission to share Book V with our readers. CLICK HERE for the PDF
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