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10 Ancient Books That Can Inspire You Even Today

10 Ancient Books That Can Inspire You Even Today

In this day and age, many people feel lost. They don’t know in what direction their life should be headed, how to overcome the different challenges that life throws at them, or just how to be relaxed and happy. Oftentimes they try to find outside sources to help them in this. The self-help industry is worth billions of dollars and keeps on growing.

Many people spend huge sums of money to try to get answers to their questions. They often don’t know which advice to choose and how to proceed with changing things that need changing.

If you really want to get to the core of self-improvement, happiness and success, it is time to get back to the basics. A wise man once said, that whatever question people have today, a wise man from thousands of years ago had already provided the answer.

The people of yesteryear lived hard, and challenging lives, but that did not stop them from working on improving themselves, achieving their goals and enjoying the little things.

Whatever question you might have, whatever challenge you are trying to overcome, the answer can most likely be found in the one of the books below. Best of all, all of them can be found totally free on the internet.

1. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius was the Emperor of the Roman Empire at a time when the pressure from the barbarians in the North was growing stronger. He spent much of his reign on campaign. Yet he was also a philosopher driven on improving himself and living life as a good person.

As a way to drive his own self-improvement, he started writing a journal for himself. This is what later became the “Meditations”.

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This books contains different quotations of things he was thinking about, different reflections, worries, challenges, snippets of wisdom. He had to face and overcome many challenges in his life and this book contains a summary of what he learned on the way. It can serve as a good source of inspiration for you in the modern world, since many of the challenges were of internal nature. You are most likely facing the same challenges today. If you want answers to common everyday problems, this book provides them.

quote:
Never regard something as doing you good if it makes you betray a trust or lose your sense of shame or makes you show hatred, suspicion, ill-will or hypocrisy or a desire for things best done behind closed doors.”

2. Enchiridion of Epictetus (compiled by Arrian, a disciple of Epictetus)

Epictetus is considered one of the greatest Stoic philosophers of the ancient world. He was a Greek who lived during the time of the Roman Empire and his teachings inspired countless people to live a life of balance.

His sayings were compiled by Arrian, one of his disciplies, in order to serve as sources of wisdom for all the generations to come. One of the basic tenets of Stoic philosophy is to focus on things that you can change and not worry about the rest and this little book teaches how to do that. The advice it gives can serve as useful guide for people struggling in a world of instant gratification and temptation.

quote:
When you imagine some pleasure, beware that it does not carry you away, like other imaginations. Wait a while, and give yourself pause. Next remember two things: how long you will enjoy the pleasure, and also how long you will afterwards repent and revile yourself. And set on the other side the joy and self-satisfaction you will feel if you refrain. And if the moment seems come to realize it, take heed that you be not overcome by the winning sweetness and attraction of it; set in the other scale the thought how much better is the consciousness of having vanquished it.

3. Nichomachean Ethics by Aristotle

Aristotle is considered one of the greatest philosophers of the ancient world and one of his greatest most enduring works is the Nichomachean Ethics. It is a hard read, but those who finish it are rewarded with a different perspective on things, most notably on what is happiness.

How will you achieve happiness according to Aristotle? By being a good person, for only a virtuous person can truly be happy.

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quote:
The pleasures arising from thinking and learning will make us think and learn all the more.”

4. Art of War by Sun Tzu

One of the most well-known works from Ancient China is the Art of War, compiled by Sun Tzu. It was originally meant as a guide for generals, teaching them how to win battles and wars, but in the modern world, it has been used in different contexts, for example in the business world. It contains much practical wisdom on what types of tactics to use in order to overcome challenges and can serve as an inspiration for strategy in any walk of life.

quote:
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

5. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu was the founder of Taoism and the Tao Te Ching is the main source of his teachings. The book contains different types of advice for different life situations and for different types of people. It has to be read several times in order to get the full impact of the sayings and to discover how to apply them to your life.

quote:
When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.

6. Parallel Lives by Plutarch

One of the best ways to become a better, more accomplished person is by learning about other great people and how they got to the top. You should adopt their virtues and discard their vices and you too can become great.

This was the main aim of the Parallel Lives by Plutarch. By writing the biographies of great Greeks and Romans and especially focusing on their traits of character, he tried to create a teaching aid for people struggling to find their own path to greatness. By studying what other great people did to become great, you can make your own path to superstardom much easier. Their lives can serve as a source of inspiration.

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If you want to know what it takes to become great, this book is the one you should turn to.

quote:
It is not reasonable that he who does not shoot should hit the mark, nor that he who does not stand fast at his post should win the day, or that the helpless man should succeed or the coward prosper.

7. The Art of Love by Ovid

Since time immemorial guys struggled with one thing: how to get the girl. Two thousand years ago, one man came with the answer. Ovid, a Roman poet, wrote a very detailed manual on how to pick up girls, what to say and what to do. It became such a best-seller, that it angered the more traditional authorities, which had Ovid banned from the city of Rome and sent into exile.

The book is divided into 3 parts, with the first two books giving very practical advice to guys on how to find, seduce and keep a woman, while book 3 reverses the tables and gives advice to women on how to find a guy. The Art of Love proved such a success, that Ovid even wrote a sequel, which dealt with how to fall out of love and mend a broken heart.

quote:
If you want to be loved, be lovable.

8. On the Orator by Cicero

Cicero is considered one of the greatest statesmen and orators of the Roman Republic. Giving speeches was his life and he became very good at it. Speaking in public and generally having conversations is a thing that is still a need for many in today’s world. Cicero wrote one of the greatest manuals on this ever. His advice on how to deliver a speech, move your audience and convince them of your truth is still as pertinent today as it was over two thousand years ago.

If you don’t know how to efficiently engage in conversation or if you need to give speeches, pick up his book as soon as possible.

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quote:
Brevity is the best recommendation of speech, whether in a senator or an orator.

9. Anabasis by Xenophon

During the height of the Persian Empire, one pretender for the Persian throne hired a group of ten thousand Greek mercenaries and marched them to the territory of modern Iraq to confront his brother, the ruler, and try to overthrow him from the throne. However, he died in the ensuing battle, meaning that the Greek troops were now stuck thousands of miles from home, in enemy territory, with no supplies and no friends.

This was the beginning of one of the greatest adventures and stories of courage ever told. Xenophon was one of the participants in the expedition and one of the commanders of the retreat. The troops marched thousands of miles, battling enemies left and right, to finally make it home. The truth is sometimes stranger and more powerful than fiction and this story qualifies. Pick up the book, if you want to read a riveting story full of adventure and one that can inspire you to overcome obstacles that you think are insurmountable.

10. Analects of Confucius (compiled by his disciples)

Confucius is the person who arguably had the greatest effect on the evolution of Chinese society out of anyone. Much of his wisdom is compiled in a book called the Analects. There you have a collection of sayings of this great teacher and philosopher. This book is considered one of the central tenets of Confucianism and can serve as a great source of practical wisdom for many situations.

quote:
The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.

Featured photo credit: Man Jumping In Old Temple Ruins/Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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