Midlife: A Philosophical Guide by Kieran Setiya

Can you think yourself out of a Midlife crisis? Maybe.

Midlife book cover


Midlife[1] is an interesting blend of philosophy and self-helf and the author trying to test different ideas on himself. I can't say I agree with everything, but I've picked some ideas for myself.

But, if you're interested in Midlife and like me you're interested in productivity then I would recommmend reading Four Thousand Weeks[2] instead.

Good #

I expect different people to focus on different ideas from this book, but here are mine:

  1. Have a hobby, do something for the fun of it for life to be fun.
  2. Cost of options. Keeping some options can make your life worse. Something I want to think about more.
  3. Focus on the process — 'how'. On current moment.
  4. Meditate to build skill of enjoing the moment.
  5. Getting all your dreams fullfilled won't make you happy. You will feel empty.
  6. Try to combine projects/goals with enjoying the way of achieving them. So setting new goals still makes sense.

Bad #

  1. I'm totally lost on different types of values presented. There is a lot of them shown in pairs, but how do they relate do each other? I have no idea.
  2. It can be hard to follow at times. I have a coulpe of pages marked where I can't figure out what it's about even after going through them multiple times. But, don't get scared, it's still a book for a general public, just on the slightly harder side.
  3. I can't understand his aversion to settling, letting some things go. That was one of the big lessons I've picked from Four Thousand Weeks[2:1]. And he even makes a great case for how we can overvalue having options (ability to choose) than picking something we would like more than the remaining choices. Wouldn't it make sense to settle into the cheice we like most and forget about keeping options open?

Summary #

I would recommend it if you're into philosophy.

  1. Midlife: A Philosophical Guide by Kieran Setiya ↩︎

  2. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman ↩︎ ↩︎

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