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  • Benjamin Fishbein

3 Classic Books for Hard Times.

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Classic works present an enduring quality that is not easy to dismiss. It is by definition that they contain valuable wisdom, or at the least, important ideas worth wrestling with.

I would like to recommend a few books because they changed my life for the better. These three classic works are not exactly a quick fix solution and they may even raise more questions for you than you started with. However, having read them, I feel that I was better prepared for living with the inevitable challenges of life, something we all face at one time or another.

In engaging with the ideas, you may find useful tools, perspectives, and stories that you can apply to your life.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.”

George R.R. Martin

The Meditations

Marcus Aurelius

This is where I first began reading about how to lead a better life. I was fortunate enough to discover Marcus Aurelius at 17-years-old and this book completely captured my attention. Marcus Aurelius was a Stoic philosopher and Roman Emperor who wrote succinct philosophical reflections on how to lead a life in harmony with his own principles and with those around him.

Of all the classical texts, this may be the only example of a work that was never meant to be published as it was written as a private journal. Stoic philosophy is the often unacknowledged source of our most well researched counseling treatment known as Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Consider while reading: “What is in my control and what is not in my control?”, “Can I withstand this discomfort without compromising my principles?", “How can I be the best example of how to act when faced with other’s poor actions?”

Man's Search for Meaning

Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl survived the Holocaust and learned that the way in which a person lives their life makes all the difference in their ability to withstand suffering, even extreme suffering.

Consider while reading: “How do I act when I am suffering?”, “What do I find most engaging: time in nature, quality relationships with loved ones, or artistic expression?”

The Odyssey

Homer, Translated by Emily Wilson

The Odyssey is a Greek classic and the story of Odysseus’ journey home after going away to war in Troy. Odysseus encounters every sort of barrier on his journey home and he often has a clever and fortunate way of making it through. Odysseus eventually returns home, though not in the way that he expected, and is unrecognizable--especially to those who never accepted the call to adventure and returned home again.

Odysseus is one man that takes many forms on his journey home. I would like to offer one primary question to reflect on that also takes many forms. Consider while reading: “Where am I in my own journey?”

Have I not yet left home to seek adventure?

Have I accomplished something great, and yet it feels like it is not enough?

Am I lost at sea with only a vague idea of which direction is correct?

Do I spend my time in activity that is temporarily satisfying and takes me away from my true interests?

Have I found what I am aiming for but struggling to take the leap into decisive action?

These books may resonate with you if you feel like it is time to start or continue counseling. These are books I know well and I would be happy to discuss them with you in our work together.

Call to Action

“Classic’ – a book which people praise and don’t read.”

Mark Twain

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