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Twelve essential teachings that hold the answer
to living an authentic and fulfilling life.

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

Ralph Waldo Emerson was a spiritual revolutionary whose profound vision of human potential came to define the American character. Known as America’s original Stoic, he offered a radical message of optimism, authenticity, and self-realization that is more necessary today than ever.
In this timely, remarkable book, noted memoirist and teacher Mark Matousek reveals the depths of Emerson’s extraordinary wisdom, demonstrating how his timeless philosophy can help us navigate the challenges of contemporary life. Using personal stories, psychological research, and life lessons from Emerson and his contemporaries— including Thoreau and Whitman — he offers practical lessons in the art of living. In the following pages, you will discover:
    *Why Emerson should be considered America’s original stoic
    *How to dispel the illusion of our own powerlessness and turn toward boundless human potential
    *Practical tools for cultivating happiness in a fragile, unpredictable, dangerous world
    *The gifts of self-reliance and spiritual renewal necessary for thriving
    *A roadmap to discovering essential wisdom on living an authentic and meaningful life
Emerson’s far-reaching vision of excellence and spiritual flourishing is the medicine we need to heal ourselves. “Trust yourself,” he teaches. “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” This philosophy of hope, known as transcendentalism, is the vein of gold in the American psyche. Lessons from an American Stoic helps us to reclaim our national treasure.


“Those looking for commonsense guidance
to a more self-directed life will find it here.”

~ Publishers Weekly

“This beautifully written book on Emerson offers great
principles and notions for living through these difficult times.
It’s a book of great vitality, vision and liberation.”

~ V (formerly Eve Ensler) author of Reckoning

In “Lessons From an American Stoic,” Mark Matousek, a writing coach and spiritual guide
from Springs, N.Y., reminds us that inside the human mind resides not a stable self but a
“shifting composite,” a messy bundle of “impressions, memories, expectations, projections,
opinions, and myths.” Mr. Matousek’s book offers 12 lessons (and an appendix of
corresponding exercises) to help us take charge of our complex inner lives. Although
the topics range widely, from originality to intimacy to enlightenment, the lessons
have the same underlying purpose—to persuade us that self-awareness is the
pathway to self-reliance and individual healing.”

~ The Wall Street Journal

“In Lessons from an American Stoic, Mark 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

“In this deeply felt account of a personal relationship with the writings of Ralph Waldo
Emerson, Mark Matousek seems to discover the guidance that was absent from his
childhood. Eager to share not only the wisdom he received, but also the comfort, he
explains how Emerson’s precepts apply to any troubled life and presents a usefully
sorted guide to what principles to apply where. It is a filial love story, a
profound appreciation of a great mind and spirit.”

~ Andrew Solomon, author of Far & Away: How Travel Can Change the World


Mark Matousek: Living Like a Stoic
Sounds True
January 23, 2024

The Meaningful Life with Andrew G. Marshall
December 17, 2023
Mark Matousek: Stoicism: How Ralph Waldo Emerson can save your life

YouTube video
YouTube video

Spirit Matters Podcast with Philip Goldberg
August 21, 2023
Lessons from Ralph Waldo Emerson with Mark Matousek

New Thinking Allowed with Jeffrey Mishlove
September 22, 2023
Who is America’s Greatest Spiritual Teacher? with guest Mark Matousek

The In Search of Wisdom Podcast with Joshua Bertolotti
August 16, 2023
Lessons From an American Stoic with Mark Matousek

The Wall Street Journal
By Christoph Irmscher – June 30, 2023
‘Lessons From an American Stoic’ Review: Emerson the Roman
The author of ‘Self-Reliance’ was also a reader of the classics. That may be why his wisdom still endures.

The Chris Voss Show Podcast
June 18, 2023
Lessons from an American Stoic: How Emerson Can Change Your Life by Mark Matousek

YouTube video

The Art of Manliness Project with Brett McKay
June 14, 2023
How Emerson Can Help You Become a Stoic Nonconformist

The Anxiety Project Podcast with Brad Robinson
June 14, 2023
Creating a New Life

Publishers Weekly
April 17, 2023
Lessons from an American Stoic: How Emerson Can Change Your Life