Lessons from an American Stoic: How Emerson Can Change Your Life (Hardcover)

Lessons from an American Stoic: How Emerson Can Change Your Life By Mark Matousek Cover Image

Lessons from an American Stoic: How Emerson Can Change Your Life (Hardcover)


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A lifelong Emerson lover, teacher, and spiritual seeker reveals how American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson’s twelve essential teachings hold the answer to living an authentic and fulfilling life, one that is in harmony with our souls.

In this wise, illuminating book, award-winning author Mark Matousek reveals how Emerson’s timeless wisdom can help us with the problems we’re facing today. America’s ‘original Stoic’ confronted many of the issues before us, from polarization to fake news, from crooked politicians and rampant materialism, to the scourge of racism.

Matousek explains that Emerson’s path of self-reliance can radically improve your quality of life. The mentor and friend of Henry David Thoreau, Emerson (aka the Oracle of Concord) was America’s first self-help author, and his nation’s conscience for half a century. Like the Stoics before him, he emphasized self-knowledge and mindfulness as paths to happiness; also, self-reliance, cooperation, non-conformity, originality, adaptability, and receptiveness.

As Americans are once again discovering the power of Stoicism, Matousek shows why Emerson’s vision is precisely the medicine we need today. The principles of Waldo’s philosophy are universal and require no spiritual faith to put into practice.

  • Each person creates her own reality
  • Obstacles are teachers in disguise
  • Your character is your destiny
  • Wonder and awe are the keys to the kingdom
  • Nonconformity is the greatest virtue
  • Nature is the doorway to God
  • Life without self-knowledge is not worth living

Emerson encourages us to throw-off conventions and platitudes, explore ourselves in depth, tell the truth about what we find there, and awaken to our greatest potential. 

Mark Matousek is a bestselling author, teacher, and speaker whose work focuses on personal awakening and creative excellence through transformational writing and self-inquiry. His books include Sex Death Enlightenment: A True Story, The Boy He Left Behind, When You’re Falling, Dive, Ethical Wisdom: The Search for a Moral Life, Ethical Wisdom for Friends, Mother of the Unseen World, and Writing to Awaken: A Journey of Truth, Transformation, and Self-Discovery. His work has appeared in numerous anthologies and publications, including The New Yorker, O: The Oprah Magazine, Details, Tricycle, Good Housekeeping, and Harper’s Bazaar. He has blogged for Psychology Today and offers courses in creativity and spiritual growth around the world. In 2013, Mark founded The Seekers Forum, a global online community for non-sectarian spiritual dialogue. He is on the faculty of The New York Open Center, The Omega Institute, 1440, Esalen, The Rowe Center, Hollyhock, and Omega Blue Spirit, Costa Rica. He lives with his partner in Springs, New York.

Product Details ISBN: 9780063059696
ISBN-10: 006305969X
Publisher: HarperOne
Publication Date: June 13th, 2023
Pages: 288
Language: English

“Matousek’s book resurrects an Emerson who was writing to be heard.” — Wall Street Journal

"This beautifully written book on Emerson offers great principles and notions for living through these difficult times. It restored my enthusiasm, confidence, compassion, and willingness to resist authority. It made me braver to be myself, to embrace paradox and be proud all the ways I have refused to conform. It’s a guide for living outside binaries. It's a book of great vitality, vision and liberation."
V (formerly Eve Ensler) author of Reckoning

“It is a filial love story, a profound appreciation of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s great mind and spirit. This is not only a touching account of the work of a great man by whom too many people today are intimidated, but also a narrative of achieving intimacy with ideas, thoughts, and feelings that had been absent from Matousek’s lived experience."  — Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon and Far From the Tree 

"In Lessons from an American Stoic, Matousek is more than an outstanding biographer of the legendary Emerson. He joins the lineage of Emerson by adding his own hard-earned wisdom and care. In translating Emerson’s insights to our modern world, Mark has done a great service for the soul of America. This is a great book. It will open your heart, expand your mind, and help you live more truly, more fully, and more lovingly."
Mark Nepo, author of The Half-Life of Angels and Falling Down and Getting Up

"Those looking for commonsense guidance to a more self-directed life will find it here." — Publishers Weekly