Transcript for Massimo Pigliucci PhD – on Stoicism

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we had a couple stream issues after a

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it’s just our first show back but sit

back relax grab a drink enjoy this

conversation with my guest my guest this

week is Massimo Pigliucci he is a

scientist skeptic and philosopher who in

recent years has written a number of

books on stoicism he earned a PhD in

philosophy from the University of

Tennessee and is the Cady Irani

professor of philosophy at the city of

College of New York he also has a

background in biology with a PhD in

evolutionary biology from the University

of Connecticut

Massimo what a list of credentials you

have my good sir welcome to hxp yes

indeed and we were we were talking a

little bit about this about the show and

I mean we were running into some issues

it’s a perfect way to bring in what

stoic philosophy is and what stoicism

encompasses can you tell us a little bit

about so what is stoicism well we

experienced a classic situation where I

think one of the fundamental concepts of

stoicism is something called the

dichotomy or control which essentially

tells you or reminds you of the fact

that some things under your control and

other things are not in your control and

that you as a consequence it’s logical

to focus on the things that are under

your control and then take the rest as

it comes if you can influence it for the

better good and if not that’s that’s

okay you have to make peace of it with

it so for instance you know we just had

as you know some technical difficulties

first with my setup then yours hmm well

there are things we can do about of

course you know right sorry I try to fix

the bit on my part eventually we

succeeded you try to fix the bed on your

part and you eventually Disick’s it but

while you were working on your bars it

was absolutely nothing I could do other

than just wait now some people might get

upset or nervous or you know start

filling around or something mike is like

well if it’s gonna happen it’s gonna

happen if it’s not gonna happen it’s

going to happen another day for sure

it’s not a tragedy right now at the end

of the world if we can make this happen

today great if not we will find

something else so this is a classic

example of you know many many times in

life you know almost on a daily basis

we’ve run across things that you know

small or or big that are going to

frustrate us or that make us angry or

that make us you know disappointed and

things like that

but if you train yourself to always

everything you do think in terms of the

background control you always ask

yourself the first question you ask

yourself is well is this under my

control if the answer is yes then okay

well what can I do about it

mm-hmm no it’s like well then sit back

and relax because there’s nothing else

you can do mm-hmm yeah for sure I mean

there’s and this is why I think I

connect with what stoicism teaches so

much is because you know most most of

the things external to us are completely

out of our control like we’re not we’re

not able to manage the emotions and

feelings of other people we can’t

imagine I mean and life life tends to

throw you know curveballs at us and we

just we sort of just have to adapt to

those things and I think this is where

the the strongest part of stoicism is is

it it kind of teaches you how to do that

that’s right the thing that’s important

when were to keep in mind is this isn’t

a question of you know saara quietest

philosophy it’s not oh well there’s

nothing I can do about it therefore I’m

just not going to do anything it’s if it

were just that then it would be a losing

proposition because that means that you

would just disengage from everything

that you’re not guaranteed to succeed to

succeed the the approach is there from

approach is to try to keep in mind where

your locus of action is where is it that

you’re going to be more effective in

tackling a particular problem and focus

your energy there the other side of that

approach of the economic

is that what you cannot control you

should develop an attitude of equanimity

officers accepting with serenity what’s

going what’s going to happen this is

actually very similar to concepts that

are found in other traditions including

in 8th century Buddhism and medieval

Judaism and also in Christianity

simulations may have heard of the

serenity prayer which is a standard

prayer it’s a 23rd century Christian

prayer that is used at the beginning of

a a meetings or similar 12-step

organizations and of course I never

remember on the spot how exactly the

prior goes but essentially it is asking

God to allow you to make the distinction

between what is under your control and

what is not in your control having the

patience and fortitude to withstand you

know to accept once and on your

controlling the courage to actually

change what it is under your control

it’s essentially the same same concept

as in stoicism and it’s not by chance

because as it turns out the most famous

rendition of this dichotomy of control

is found at the beginning of epictetus


the enchiridion is kind of a short

manual for how to live your life which

was written in the second century and

after the end of the Roman Empire when

Christianity basically took over

throughout the Middle Ages

the enchiridion was actually used by

Christian monks as a training man the

only difference with your original is

that every time that the very big

pillars was talking about Socrates as an

example the good Christian monks

replaced the word Socrates with the word

Jesus but other than that it’s the same

thing so it’s no surprise that we

actually find the same concept in a

number of different traditions including

the Christian one which has been highly

influenced by by stories when I you know

when I think of someone who is stoic in

mainstream culture

I think of Spock from Star Trek

that’s how I think of when I think of

someone who is sort is it so is it I

mean just to clarify this is it is it

suppressing your emotions that’s not

what stoicism is is it no it isn’t and

in fact because

action of most practicing stoic cies is

to tell you that note isn’t like spock

at all but it’s actually not quite that

easy because despite the fact that spark

is supposed to be suppressing emotions

if you actually pay attention to the

original series and to enter the various

movies based on the original series you

will see this that spark does have a

motion they had positive of their

positive emotions however he loves his

friends for instance love is an emotion

he says several times several times that

is a close friend of Captain Kirk and

dr. McCoy he clearly cares about

knowledge and science

he also very clearly cares about justice

and ethics right and in one of the

movies he actually sacrifices himself

saying that you know the the benefit of

the many out to outweigh the benefits of

the one well all of those actually

positive emotions so despite sparks own

for the stations that it doesn’t have

emotions and then he wants to control

emotions that’s not quite what he’s

doing what he’s doing is to controlling

the negative emotions and disruptive

emotions things like anger hatred fear

those are the emotions that are really

not good for you and that pretty much is

the stoic attitude stoicism is not about

surprising emotions but rather in a

sense to sort of reorient our emotional

spectrum away from negative disruptive

emotions such as hatred fear and and you

know and and anger especially and

towards the express cultivation of

positive emotions such as love joy sense

of justice so so in a sense there is

something true about the stereotype

accept but of course like every

stereotype it only gets things half

right or a border right not enough of

the treasure the other part of the

stereotype that is typical when people

use the word stoic in the sort of the

common meaning as opposed to the

philosophical one is that stories are

often envisioned as going through life

of a stiff upper lip well and so

therefore being you know particular

particular fun to hang around with

that’s also not true of course

Stoics do alter things that everybody

else does in fact Seneca

one of the major Roman Stoics explicitly

says that sometimes you just have to let

it go go dancing go for a walk enjoying

wine evening to intoxication that

doesn’t sound like somebody who’s not

having fun really but the right the

right part the correct part of the

stereotype is that in fact endurance is

in fantastic value the notion is that we

should endure what we cannot control

what we’re going back now to the

dichotomy of control then we started

with sure if something is none of the

inventory if you cannot do anything

about it

then you only have two choices really

either you endure it and try to sort of

get over these particular hump in your

life or you can start and get upset what

makes it work which simply makes it work

yeah that’s right

it doesn’t actually prove things in fact

it makes it more so makes you feel force

and probably because that kind of strong

emotional reaction clouds your judgment

it actually makes things also of course

in a practical sense yeah I mean if I

think of any time where I’ve been in a

situation where things are out of my


whenever I make the choice to sort of

react or bite into those emotions it

just makes it tremendously worse I mean

and whether it’s you know fight with a

friend or something that’s going on like

I was traveling last week and it was it

was like mini disaster after me you know

like just putting out these various

fires and if you find yourself in this

state of panic when that’s happening it

merely makes the situation that much

that much worse so there’s so much

there’s so much to be said about the

power of stoicism and having that as you

said this a sort of meter on your your

emotions and being aware of them and and

honing out you know the the negative

versus the positive and being selective

about that yeah how do you do that

because you know the theory is it’s

pretty clear I mean you can I can

explain story theory in the basic story

theory in a few minutes and if you

really want to get into the details we

need a few hours but no more than that

so it’s not that difficult

it’s the practice of course that is that

it’s difficult but but let me tell you a

couple of things about this

first of all it’s not surprising that

the practice is difficult

I mean imagine a complete different kind

of situations which are where the Stoics

did use as an analogy of them to explain

their flaws they say you know imagine

your little gym and you know you call up

a somebody a trainer and the trainer

explains to you the theory of you know

how to do your exercises it’s not rocket

science you you can listen the trainer

and understand what he’s saying and a

few minutes you get the gist of it but

that doesn’t mean that you in a few

minutes you’re gonna grow muscles and

and and eliminate fat right that’s gonna

take hours and hours and days and days

and then monks and moms and eventually

years and years of practice it’s the

same with a philosophy of life what it’s

always more Christianity or Buddhism or

anything else the theory is not that

difficult the practice become it takes

you no time you get better only only

with time now there are certain some

basic techniques some basic ways of

doing this and one of them has been

proposed by a modern stoic actually Bill

or vine who is publishing about the

publish actually a new book called the

stoic challenge which is gonna come up

and come out in in September and bill

says ok so every time you go through a

situation like the one you were talking

about at the airport things that you’re

on vacation will try this little mental

trick hmm imagine that you think okay so

this this is the Stoics God are sending

me a test they’re testing me they want

to know how I’m doing under these

conditions and so forth the duration of

the test which is of course the duration

of whatever problem you have to actually

tackle you’re gonna keep mental scores

with yourself about so how am i doing am

i reacting with anger in my intro

reasonably am I making progress

am I getting frustrated and so on and

then at the end when the challenge is

over you sort of sit down maybe even

write it down and say so how do you guys

do on this and the trick is of course

it’s a mind trick right but my tricks

are crucial I mean this this is how we

actually live our lives among our lives

of mental lives or in our actual the

real life our is

a number of mind tricks the way you

think about things completely changes

the way you actually experience them and

the way you react to them so every time

you have a channel something happens it

doesn’t go your way just say stop for a

second and say to yourself either

you know loudly if nobody’s around to

listen to you or you know mentally it’s

like ah here’s that here comes a

challenge from this body cards and you

don’t have to believe in story cards

obviously bill everybody doesn’t believe

in Stan story gods and why it’s just a

mental device and say okay here’s a

challenge let me see how I do let me

keep tabs on how I’m doing and then I’m

gonna write a report to myself that’s

the important parts of writing down

things essentially doing what stories

referred to as a philosophical diary

it’s important because for one thing it

allows you after the fact to analyze

more commonly your own reactions and

think about what went right and what

went wrong but also since you know you

can do that you’re gonna actually self

examine basically in writing then Seneca

suggests you’re gonna be more careful

about what you do because you’re not

gonna lie to yourself if you have you

know you’re gonna have to write things


you’re not gonna pretend that you did

something different you know what you

did and you’re gonna write it down so

you’re gonna hold yourself accountable

essentially for your actions both okay

so I mean there’s a lot to unpack there

and I’m doing my best to say so

I mean first of all you consider

yourself a skeptic I mean you you listed

yourself as a skeptic does that mean

does that mean that you do this more

more objectively I would say do this did

the Stoics have a belief in God well in

a sense yes but it needs to be really

seriously qualified so the Stoics were

from a modern perspective what we would

call pantheists that is they believed

that God is in the universe

in fact they believe that God is the

universe God for the story is made of

matter its physical and it is exactly

the same thing as the universe I mean

that they are pretty explicit about this

if Bianca diogenes laërtius for instance

which is one of the commentators on the

early Stoics he says it’s basically the

story called God the same as true the

same as nature it’s the same same thing

so in a sense yes they did believe in

God but it’s a it’s a God that it’s

actually essentially embedded in the

laws of the universe now one difference

in in the way in which we moderns might

think of the universe and the way the

story started this is the destroys just

like pretty much everybody in antiquity

thought that the universe was a little


mm-hm and therefore the universe was was

doing whatever it is that it’s good for

itself okay so which are everything that

happens in universe it’s good for the

universe and we are bits and pieces of

the universe so indirectly in a sense

kind of us but not in the sense that the

universe actually cares about us not

that there is a God out there that

decides you know what what’s gonna

happen and what’s not gonna happen it’s

just that the organism that the cosmic

organism is doing things we are bits and

pieces of that cosmic organism and so

just going on from the right if you will

come up with an analogy to sort of

explain what the a little bit better

maybe before the concept is so sure I

have like every like every human being

we have you know hundreds actually

billions of neurons in our brains right

each one of those cells is part of me

and I am the organism so I do whatever

it is but it’s good for me so in this

case I’m talking to you and then I have

dinner then I’m gonna go for a walk or

something like that

well my neurons don’t know what’s going

but whatever I do is in a sense good for

the neurons meaning that friends are

part of me so they just they go along

with the right did they do their part if

I did not have neurons I couldn’t be

talking to you I couldn’t be making

decisions I couldn’t do anything okay

so the relationship between my neurons

and myself is pretty much the

relationship than the ancient stoic

start there is between us and the

universe where we are the neurons we are

the cells so the individual cells can

die in your sense can you know bad

things can happen to any individual

that can become they can die out that

can become cancers or whatever it is but

what happens when the needle sells is

part of a way in which the organism has

a whole reacts so that’s the way the

ancients thought about it

most modern stories don’t believe that

the universe is a living organism

because you know modern physics tells us

that things don’t work that way and so a

modern stoic is more likely to accept

what it’s called Einstein’s gods

sometimes Stalin was famously asked you

know do you believe in God and his reply

was sure I believe in the laws of nature

so God here is conceived as the fact

that the universe has a rational

structure if it did not have a rational

structure we couldn’t understand it with

there would be no science possible so

the universe does have still with me

melsmel okay guys it looks like we might

have hit a little bit of that bump that

I warned you guys about earlier we’re

gonna find out what happened to

Massimo’s microphone so sorry

masamori back okay we lost we lost

massimo hang tight here guys just gonna

bring our producer in – massimo you

still with me

yes ok ok you dropped out for a little

bit and and now you’re back ok alright

so so the last thing I heard you dropped

out around when you were talking about

the nature of the universe and our

interconnected nature – to Nate to

nature the human connected to nature so

yeah I think so but what do you pick up

from there please ok so the analogy that

I was making was that just as for the

ancient Stoics God is the universe and

we have bits and pieces of it and we do


within that universe so in the same way

that say my new Gran’s my little neurons

don’t know that I’m a part that they are

part of a living organism and I am the

living organism I go around doing what

it is that I need to do and the neurons

just both go along for the ride and also

make it possible to do things right so

the way to look at at how the ancient

Stoics thought about the relationship

between themselves and the universe is

pretty much like the relationship

between my neurons and myself we are

part of these cosmic living organism

now Lauren Stoics don’t believe most

money storix there are exceptions don’t

believe that the university is a living

organism because you know we’ve just

followed what whatever the physicists

tell us and the physicist don’t think of

the universe as a living organism mm-hmm

so in that sense a modern stoic is more

likely to believe in what is sometimes

referred to as Einsteins god

einstein was famously asked at one point

if he if he believed in God and his

answer was sure I believe in the laws of

nature and the meaning right sorry so

many meaning that well I believe that

the universe is organized in a logical

manner because if it were not organized

in a logical manner in a rational man

wouldn’t understand it there would be no

science possible but where that

rationalization comes from we don’t know

physicists haven’t given any answers

yeah so it’s just a fact of life itself

it’s a wrong fact the universe is

organized according to laws and

principles and we act following those

laws and principles so you do you think

that this accordance to living in

connection to nature I mean what

position that does that put us in do you

think it it it puts us in a place to

grow as people more if we’re connected

to nature I think so

but we need to be clear about what that

phrase actually means in the story

context so one thing it doesn’t mean is

that we should go running naked into the

forest and hacking trees that’s not what

living according to nature means

although of course there’s nothing wrong

with that if you want to do it but the

phrase itself just means that we should

be taking seriously both the nature of

the universe and the nature of humanity

of human beings okay

still there yeah I’m here I’m here

okay good because now I’m getting

annoyed okay I know I got a little

silent because I thought you’re gonna

keep going the nature of the universe in

the nature of humanity the universe

means that we better live our lives

following your understanding exactly how

the laws of physics work if you try to

do something that goes against the laws

of physics you’re gonna get yourself

into trouble now you might say well

who’s gonna be so silly to do something

against the laws of physics and Mayans

will be planning people for instance

anybody who uses automatic medicine is

doing something against the laws of


he’s thinking that that I do red sugar

essentially and water will cure disease

that’s nonsense and a stoic would say

now don’t do it because that means you

don’t understand the nature of the

universe or I don’t know if you remember

several years ago there was this very

unfortunately highly successful book and

DVD that came out was called the secret

right yeah so the secret is based on an

incorrect understanding of the universe

essentially all right so so the circuit

says that if you really want something

if you really truly want something like

you know a new job or a new relationship

or whatever it is then the universe will

somehow Bend and and recognize that now

it doesn’t work like that

if an Epictetus 2,000 years ago you know

almost 2,000 years ago explicitly wrote

that it doesn’t work that why one of his

students was complaining because he had

a broken leg and a meat-eater says well

what do you want that the universe just

changes things around so that you’re

breaking like it’s not broken

yeah deal with it you got a broken leg

horse things can happen so so one level

of the phrase living according to nature

means just live your life according to

best understanding of how the world

actually works and not according to how

you would want the world to work

so it’s essentially it’s a it’s a way of

saying don’t engaging in you know

wishful thinking but the other the

second part I think is even more

important the one about human nature so

the Stoics thought that there are two

fundamental aspects to human nature one

is that we are eminently social

organisms we can if we need to we can

survive in isolation but we only thrive

in social groups mean so we’re eminently

social and the second component is that

we are also capable of reason we’re the

only animal or at least again knowing

which reason has really achieved certain

levels that are not found anywhere else

in nature right from these two things

they concluded that therefore a good

life for human being is a life in which

you apply reason to improve social

living okay so the meaning of life

according to Stoics is precisely that

and Marcus Aurelius says it explicitly

in the meditation it says you know do

whatever social reason demands and only

whatever social reason demands because

that’s the whole point the point of

letting a human life is to be helpful to

others make things better for everybody

which means of course making things

better for yourself

so someone let’s let’s just take a

little bit of a pause you’re feeding us

so much information which I love so much

but I want to just I just want to

backtrack a little bit and I want to

cover you mentioned Marcus Aurelius I

find his life fascinating I think I

think it’s so interesting the story

behind everything he was doing the

position that he was in but I’ll let you

tell the story can you tell us more

about Marcus Aurelius his and his life

as an emperor and what he was doing when

he wrote meditations we don’t know

exactly which years but close to the end

of his life and in fact he was on the

frontier you’re fighting an eight-year

long war against the Marcomanni and

other German tribes these tribes had

essentially tried to invade Roman

territory in some negotiation the

interesting bit actually

about this is that along a this was a

defensive war that Marcus was was doing

but if that it was a war that resulted

on the fact that the America money

actually wanted to be part of the room

and sort of ecosystem they wanted to be

able to trade as equal partners with the

Romans and so there was some

disagreement essentially on economics if

you will and as often is the case when

disagreements of economics cannot be

resolved diplomatically then people

start you know taking a box so a Marcus

family itself II did not want to wage

war but he found itself in on the

frontier in the end of his life and this

is where he brought the meditations we

know this for a number of reasons and

for one thing because of his

correspondence with some of his friends

and associates but also because two

chapters two volumes of the

implementations actually explicitly say

that they were bring in you know in the

fields and they give the location so we

know where he was now Marcus had arrived

there it was very interesting way so

first of all it was one of the so-called

five good emblems there was a period

this was the peak of the Roman Empire

the Roman Empire was its most peaceful

as well as its most extensive during the

reigns of these five emperors which

included Adrian and inspires internal

spires was Marcus adoptive father

okay so Adrianna fat had suggested to

Antoninus to uh transpires that he

should adopt Marcus because Adrian saw

in Marcus the young Marcus somebody who

had jobs he had what it took to become

an emperor

so Marcus was basically raised in under

inspires household and you know Palace

he was given instructions you know

indication accordingly any study

philosophy since he was very young he

started with a number of philosophers

not just 2x looking at different

philosophical approaches he also studied

rhetoric he started number of a number

of things but apparently since he was

very young he stoicism is the thing that

clicked with his historic teachers

we’re the ones that made the most

impression and he sorta try to start

practicing stoicism to the point that

his mother cup with worries because as a

boy he started sleeping on the floor in

order to in cinema in a mass poverty in

order yeah it’s right so to remind

himself that he could cope with

adversity and his mother said none of

this nonsense now eventually after an

appearance buyers died Marcus became

Emperor in fact he became

co-emperor he decided to share the

Empire of Marcus Paris was not exactly

the best you know Co Emperor but he did

his job

Ethiopia did okay and then at some point

first died and Marcus became the sole

Emperor in charge of everything this was

a trial you know a pretty difficult time

as I said the five Emperor’s did oversee

a time of peace and prosperity for the

Roman Empire but when it came to Marcus

she was pretty unlucky he had to face

one war on the eastern frontier against

the Parthians of what you know one of

Rome’s regular standby enemies the

second war later on as I mentioned on

German frontier he also faced an

internal rebellion these trusted

lieutenants at some point declared

himself Emperor

so they had to be dealt with and more

importantly you have to deal with a

plague that was brought back to run by

the legions coming back from the east

plague was the worst recorded in ancient

history it probably killed between three

and five million people hmm that’s a lot

to deal with during during someone its

wings and so what you see in the

meditations is essentially Marcus coming

to terms with all this stuff you know

how do you how do I do

thanks how do I cope with the stress and

the fact that some of my own people are

betraying me upon his wife was not

faithful either so that was another

problem hunan that the meditation

session essentially a personal diary

where Marcus is made up of twelve books


but in fact it’s like it’s one book with

12 chapters really and in in each book

you see my purse going over and over on

the same themes in fact one of the

criticism that people have of the

meditations is that it is repetitive and

if then it’s preachy but that’s to be

understood you know it’s of course it

was repetitive it’s somebody’s diary

first on diary presumably you you run

into the same problems over and over so

you write about the same problems over

and as far as prejudice is concerned

while he was fishing to himself it was

it was telling himself he never meant to

my published like this was not as it was

not his intention to publish this

journal that he was writing for himself

and right I mean you know he had you

know he had anything at his disposal

that he wanted he was Emperor you know

so he had all the money that he wanted I

mean people were bothering him for

something every day so I mean what was

something that Marcus said that sort of

hit home with you like I think in a

paraphrase I think he said something

like you know people will ask you for

money today they will annoy you they

will bother you and so I thought it was

really amazing that this the

posthumanist this this person has become

you know such a almost a literary genius

like you know like it’s putting out this

this philosophy without the intention of

doing that which is which gives it this

whole other color and dimension that I

find fascinating about his life you’re

thinking of my favorite quotes from from

the meditations where he says you know

start out remember you should start out

every morning expecting that people are

going to be nasty and treacherous and

you know vile and so on and sports this

was his normal sort of experience of the


he says I you know Don expect otherwise

I mean to expect otherwise it’s like you

know expecting a thing to be in flower

in the winter to use actually metaphor

that comes out of evicting us it’s like

that would be silly it would be

irrational this is one of those things

again then that goes back to the control

with which we started in this

conversation right so you don’t expect

the people all of a sudden change and

become great and good in everything you

just deal with what they would take what

the actual

we are not with the way in which you

want them to be but then he goes on in

the same the very same paragraph he says

but you know remember you have also made

mistakes you also be annoyed and you’ve

also been you know creating problems

from others and tell me that you know

everybody does that that’s what they

would they do because they think that

they’re right I mean you know you rarely

encounter somebody decided you’re bent

on doing the wrong thing knowing that

it’s the wrong thing people are in good

faith usually they they think that

they’re doing what the right thing is

they made me be stakin and they may be

annoying as a result or creating

problems as a result but you know you

need to understand where they’re coming

from and then funny says spelling the

same paragraph in the same section he

says regardless of all of this this

should not touch you because what you

can do is always through treating

yourself and think about what is the

right thing to do and do it regardless

of what other people think or regardless

of what other people do it is up to you

to do the right thing again this is

another application of the economy

control he’s saying look you don’t

control what other people do but you do

control how you react to that you do

control what you do you do control your

own judgments your own decisions to act

or not so focus on does and you’ll be

fine so it’s it’s a very wise way of

sort of approaching pushing problems

many nations also starts out in dark

first chapter in the meditation it’s

called the first book as a surprise it’s

a chapter the first chapter in the

meditations really isn’t a long exercise

in gratitude he starts out by saying I’m

thankful to my father for my mother for

that my grandfather for this my friends

for this my teachers and so on and so

forth it’s a great example of literally

as you were saying a minute ago the most

powerful men in the Western world at the

time that begins his own diary by

reminding himself that he’s got that

point of power and and in you know of

prestige and everything because of


people who would be good to him and who

have influenced them for the better and

it’s a great it’s a great and you know

exist exercise in humility century in

being grateful to people which we all

could use a little bit more of yeah for

sure and it you know I love I love the

idea of his life and and at the limits

he was tested I would say he was

probably one of I mean the greatest

ruler that we’ve seen in you know in

recent times and in ancient history

times it doesn’t seem like there’s a

ruler that I’ve heard of that is so

balanced and thinking so clearly about

how to rule how to govern how to deal

with you know everyday sort of problems

and issues and really addressing you

know really addressing that you’re

you’re going to deal with like it’s

going to come up whether it’s for other

people or whether you know maybe the

livestock you know there’s a plague in

the livestock all dies or you know

something happens but it’s going to test

you it’s going to test that inner

resolve that you have and I think if we

circle brought back and we we add this

into our lives today you know we have

technology we’re connected all the time

to our devices where we’re online so it

presents a new way of sort of giving

problems you know because I can read you

know massa I can go to Massimo’s

Facebook page and pull up like Massimo

you were having dinner we were supposed

to go to dinner what happens right so

it’s really interesting to connect such

an ancient philosophy to modern day

living oh absolutely

so so one thing that I think social

media does for me you know I have to use

social media for a number of reasons

some of them are sort of personal

because most of my family is in Italy

and I live in New York so it’s a nice

way to connect and you know stay in

touch we my brother’s my sister or my

nephew my niece etcetera and and some of

it is professional right I used Twitter

and Facebook as you know to broadcast my

professional writings to learn about

other people’s writings and so on so I

have to be essentially a yawn I have a

choice I could decide not to do it but

it’s a

good thing for me to do that said almost

every day when I get on Twitter or

Facebook it’s a it’s an exercising stoic

resilience because of course somebody is

gonna tell me somebody’s gonna be nasty

somebody’s gonna be doing this or that

or the other and you want there’s like

what are these people thinking why are

these people doing this but if you take

it as a challenge remember I mentioned

that the notion bill or vines notion of

the gods

destroyed gods are throwing your

challenge if you think of in terms of

challenge then you say okay well let me

see how how can I cope better with

people who are in fact unknowing or

insulting or something like that and it

really helps I mean I know me more

amazing it’s amazing my behavior online

has improved dramatically for the last

several years because every time I clean

I’m mentally prepared okay here goes

another stoic challenge let’s see how

you can do it when you do a challenge to

yourself you automatically pay attention

you automatically trying to sort do

better and you say AHA this guy I know

what this guy’s trying to do is trying

to get a dancer response out of me

I’m just not gonna do that starts were

really big on insults as in not not

doing insults but but on on handling it

so I picked it ice princess that there’s

two ways to deal with an insult the

basic one which is easily accessible to

everyone is to react to an insult as a


what so I actually have some of my

students do this as an exercise I said

you know go in the bank here pick up a

rock and then start insulting it how

does that feel and of course they do it

and of course they said well I feel like

an idiot

he said exactly that’s the point if

somebody insults you and you don’t

respond they’re gonna feel like idiots

because the point of an insult is to get

a reaction out if you don’t get the

reaction if the person who insults you

doesn’t get a reaction he feels he’s

like well what’s going on here what am I


recycling yeah yeah and so and so that’s

an easy thing to do just like well

somewhat easy so I actually require some

training but but it’s

yeah just walk away the more

sophisticated reaction to an insult is

also brought up by Epictetus and a video

says so there’s a pain in the in the in

these courses were one of me students as

a I heard these guys he has all sorts of

bad things to say about you he said this

and that he insulted you and the victims

response is oh well that’s because it

doesn’t know me well otherwise you could

send much worse so in other words you

used humor to defuse a situation I

mentioned build or find my colleague

friend earlier and he has this example

where years ago it was Aneesha

philosopher he’s a professional

philosopher so years ago he was walking

in the halls of his department and

colleague stops him

there’s our bill I was just thinking him

finishing writing my book and I was just

thinking of mentioning your work you

know builds natural immediate reaction

was to think that’s not but before he

could say that say anything the

colleague goes on and says yeah the

problem is that I haven’t decided yet

whether what you wrote is misguided it’s

wrong or downright evil so bill thought

for a second remember Epictetus

and needs any answered or why not both

and then walked away and the colleague

was stunned because like what are you

gonna say is that so somebody’s

basically not only deflected the insult

benefit sort of like a boomerang throw

it back at you is I you could have run

worse and I don’t care that’s your

opinion that’s in your under your under

your control under my control is to

simply ignore you because you’re beneath

my might notice I just don’t I don’t

care sure I don’t I don’t give a damn

about it so this is something that

people can in fact practice on a regular

basis because there are all sorts of

opportunities to do so on your on the

job sometimes we’re friends sometimes

with relatives I mean imagine you not

your typical Thanksgiving dinner where

your insane uncle is going on racist

rants or something like that you

there are countless opportunities and of

course including the ones of mine to

feel insulted and to react to the insult

in fact we kind of live in a society at

this point where outrage and insults are

just flying all over the place but

trying a little stoic emergency next

time around either in completely ignored

the insult or deflected by by way of

humor and see how it feels I really went

since I started doing that I feel so

much better myself

and I know that I pissed off a lot of

people no I know for sure that you know

when you’re in that state of where you

expect someone respond to respond to and

you’re like almost goading them you’re

poking them you’re pushing them and you

want you’re looking for that feedback

and when you when someone expects you to

be enraged and you give them no response

at all it enrages them further which is

beautiful it’s almost like deflecting an

attack there’s a there’s a quote from

epic Titus that I really really like it

says who then is invincible the one who

cannot be upset by anything outside

their reasoned choice if you train

yourself well now let me make a point

here it’s an important caveat because

sometimes people misunderstand what what

we’re talking about it’s a robot what do

you mean I mean I I feel I cannot avoid

getting upset somebody you know insults

me or or I cannot avoid being angry or

something well let’s talk about what

exactly you can and you cannot avoid the

the immediate reaction is unavoidable

this is what these two is called a proto

emotion so you know the little anger

that you feel was welding inside you

when somebody started saying something

that you think is insulting or stupid or

something that’s that’s not that’s not

avoidable that’s just a natural reaction

or that little you know instantaneous

theater that you feel if you hear a loud

noise all of a sudden that you’re not

expecting that kind of you know media

automatic reaction those things you

cannot control you cannot

and the Stoics never sent that you

should try to control them they’re just

natural reactions however both the

stories and modern cognitive scientists

thought that the mature emotion what

they actually called it passion but the

mature emotion is a combination of the

proto emotion and of your cognition of

the fact that you’re thinking about

things in a certain way so you cannot

avoid the project motion but you can

definitely work on the full leaf the

fully fledged emotion because that one

includes a cognitive that includes a

judgment so for instance if you say you

know well I cannot avoid feeling you

know a little disturbed by somebody

who’s insulting me that’s true you

cannot you cannot avoid it

but then you can stop yourself and say

okay this guy just doesn’t know what

he’s talking about it’s just opening his

mouth and and and air comes out of it

and I’m not hearing it that’s up to you

to modify your judgement instead of

going oh yeah I have plenty of reasons

to get upset if I’m gonna be really

upset that I’m gonna be punching on the

nose or something instead of doing that

so in other words feed on your on your

promotion until it develops a full

fledge anger you can actually do exactly

the opposite and say what am i upset

about the guy is just talking

so what great that doesn’t mean that

doesn’t make any difference in my life

that’s some kind of fact right

similar with you know the loud bang you

know the noise well if it turns out the

noise is in fact you know somebody’s

shooting your father then you might want

to take cover but morally in the night

isn’t it’s just you know something I

would sign happen something inside you

your apartment fell down it’s like okay

well that’s not a big deal no reason to

get upset so you come down immediately

so a lot of the way in which we react to

things is under our control not in the

sense that we can avoid the proto motion

but in the sense that we can actually

reason for a thing in a sense it’s kind

of the opposite of the famous commercial

right instead of just do it historic so

say it’s done yes stop it may very well

be then you want to do I mean it’s not

you know the notion

that you always end up being that there

is no action to be taken sometimes there

is an action to be taken for instance if

let’s say a co-worker is being harassed

by a boss well there is an action to be

taken there because one of the

fundamental stoic virtues is the virtue

of justice and you should intervene if

you see an injustice being done you

should intervene and try to you know

counter it as much as possible so

sometimes your judgement is that yeah

you should act but a lot of the times

you judge me is gonna be you know if you

think about it it’s like no I don’t

think so it’s not worth my energy

somewhere getting upset about it for

sure so someone let me I’m gonna have to

really back in man here this take your

your own you’re your own person you just

develop a topic all by yourself it’s

great I mean I love hearing this out

there like me wrong but you’re like your

own Segway artist it’s okay so you know

I want to I want to talk about virtues

you know because the Stoics were very

strong about living in honorable life

and you know the different virtues that

we should embody in in our actions and

what we do in and who we are so so what

are some of the cardinal virtues please

right so the storix first of all

stoicism is type of virtual ethics there

are several different kinds of virtue

ethics the most famous one is re

startles then there is epicureanism this

is a number of them SOI system is one

type in one version of virtue ethics and

what they all end in common is as you

were saying that we are supposed to act

following certain virtues virtues are

essentially propensities to act in one

way or another they’re they’re part of

our character the part of who we are the

stories in particular recognized four

cardinal virtues four fundamental

approaches and these are practical

wisdom courage justice and temperance

practical wisdom is the knowledge of

what is good for you and what is not

good for you and for displays we need


boiled down to a very simple thing we’re

going back again to the duck on your

control whatever is good for you is what

it’s under you bro whatever is and you

do right and whatever is bad

you with what is under your control

don’t do so in other words your good

judgments are good for you your bad

judgments are bad for you and nothing

else everything else is not in your


so you should simply ignore it so that’s

practical wisdom which means anything

you know in practice so to speak that

everything you do you should ask

yourself the basic question is this

under my control or is it not so that’s

practical wisdom courage is not just

physical courage but the courage to

stand up in the right thing so it’s

really moral courage well what’s the

right thing what the right thing is what

what concerns the dirt Bertram the

virtue of justice justice tells you that

you should be treating other people

fairly you should be treating other

people as you wanted to be treated and

you should never treat other people as

means to an end but as enging themselves

in other words you should recognize them

as human beings that are inherently

worthy of respect they’re not your

students they’re not something to play

with they are they are human beings just

like you and the finally temperance

essentially means that you need to react

to situations in the proper measure

neither too much nor too little so let

me go back to my example of the boss

that is arising a co-worker right what

is practical wisdom telling me well that

I can arrive at the judgment that that

what boss is doing is in fact incorrect

and I can do something about it I may

not be able to change the boss’s mind

that may not be able to stop behavior

but I can certainly try to intervene

that is under my control so I should

intervene right courage tells me that I

should summon the courage to intervene

it’s not just a theoretical thing I

actually need to do it in practice and

then they take courage because after all

he’s my boss right so I could suffer

consequences from

trianing so I need I need courage

justice tells me that in fact arresting

a coke a worker is not good things it’s

in just because it is not trained person

with respect and temperance tells me

that I need to do it properly act

properly I don’t want to just whisper

something on the

my breath because my boss is not gonna

hear it

that would be under-reacting but I also

don’t want to go and punch him on the

nose sure because that would be

overreacted Shirin

so I need to act with temperance I need

to just stand firm and say clearly and

and what calm is like you know just kind

of be able to really not acceptable so

that’s those are the fundamental

interest and the way the Stoics used

them is as as moral compass so imagine

that you know when we navigate around

your city you need a map you have a when

you when you navigate a ship you neither

or an airplane you need a compass to

know where you’re going and

interestingly of course compasses do

have cardinal points three north south

east and west and the same goes for the

four cardinal virtues essentially the

notion is that every time you are in the

situation a difficult situation or

situation where you have to make a

decision you should ask yourself well is

this under my control or not is there’s

a courageous thing to do is adjust thing

to do and I might reacting temperately

yeah it’s amazing I mean if I think if

we brought this into you know instead of

putting on the Kardashians or it’s some

mainstream garbage if we talked more

about virtue wisdom justice courage and

temperance I mean I think maybe we would

make leaps and bounds and I mean it’s to

be said that’s such an ancient do you

think this leads me to my next question

do you think that there was I mean for

the research for the show’s looking at

the links between Buddhism and stoicism

and there seems to be an interesting

parallel between those things like I

think Buddhism originated about 2,500

years ago whereas stoic stoicism was

about 2,300 years ago so Buddhism is a

little bit older and and and Buddhism

adds in a sort of spiritual like

enlightenment the path the way you know

they talk about suffering as well so I

mean it seems like there are many links

in into these two systems of thought

there are absolutely we don’t know we

don’t think at least that those links

are result of direct influence although

there was a ancient Greek philosophy


philosopher Perrault was a skeptic

original sense of the term and therefore

non-historic who was who did go to India

with Alexander the Great and we know

that it was in Kentucky came in contact

with Buddhist monks and Buddhism was

right at the beginning at the time so

and interestingly we don’t actually have

written down books from Buddhism at that

time so it’s at least possible people

have speculated that there are some

reciprocal influences that Piro brought

back to Greece some influences from

Buddhism and that vice versa he

influenced very very early Buddhism

unfortunately don’t know well the only

thing we know is that you went there and

you did have contact you don’t really

have much of a sense of how much

chilling in front was either why but

you’re absolutely right that there are

strong similarities between Buddhism and

stories and in fact I typically think of

you know I present stoicism as the


it’s those are not the only two that are

similar that I mentioned earlier

similarities with certain aspects of

Christianity you know the serenity

prayer or even not believe of Judaism

there are also strong similarities

between both Buddhism and and stories

and other Eastern philosophies like such

as Dao ways before instance but the ones

between Buddhism and stories in a

particularly strong the two philosophies

differ dramatically in terms of

metaphysics so let me step back for a

second to give a little bit of

background sure I think that every Asif

II of life such as stories Epicureanism

etc but also every religion Christianity

to raise confusion whatever you want

they all of all those have two

components at least two components and

metaphysics which means an account of

how the world works and in ethics which

is an account of how you should work

within the work the world how do you act

within the so if you think about you

every really you know take three Stanley

for instance Christianity does have a

mid physics as an account of world

actually works was created by God it

supports means the Providence etc and

then there is of course yes you know

what is what are you supposed to do if

you are a good Christian

to be a good question the same exact

thing goes for every other philosophy or

religion of life that I know of

including you therefore Buddhism now the

difference between Buddhism and the big

differences between Buddhism and

stoicism are in the metaphysics the two

metaphysics are very different

the Stoics as we were saying earlier

were clearly materialists they thought

that the universe itself God the soul

everything is made of matter okay

everything is made of stuff okay while

on the other hand Buddhist metaphysics

is or is it area kids or you know they

do believe in reincarnation for instance

or any things like karma it’s not like

that there’s nothing like that even


but despite was very different you know

very different metaphysics their ethics

are very very similar you can you can

have you know the Buddhists of course

have the the phone Noble Truths and the

Eightfold Path to wisdom and saurons

fourth concept they have concepts such

as non-attachment and it said there are

proper action proper intention and so on

and so forth well the Stoics is

something very similar they have virtues

that become their control they work they

use different names but they work out to

about the same same approach in in

practice so there are very strong

similarities now you mentioned

enlightenment which is kind of

interesting concept because of course

the in the Buddhist tradition

enlightenment isn’t it also you know has

a metaphysical sort of component to it

certain things happen when you become

enlightened but the stories do have a

equivalent of the alignment and that’s

called ataraxia other axia means

serenity or tranquility and basically

the notion is that if you actually act

like a stoic in life you will achieve

ataraxia you will be serene and you will

be serene because you will always do

whatever it is under your control and

you will always accept with serenity

everything else that you cannot control

you’ll say well sometimes you win

sometimes you lose

today I lost well that’s too bad but you

know there’s going to be a next time and

that kind of attitude or things that

happen to you brings serenity and brings

what what

as a state of mind that the Stoics

referred to as ataraxia now the

difference between ataxia and

enlightenment is that in Buddhism and

enlightenment isn’t sent in in a in a

very strong sense at least from what I

understand it’s a goal it’s it’s one of

the things you want to do you want to

achieve and like for destroyed so that

access this iPod it’s a nice Thai

product but it’s a side product

nonetheless the gophers for a story is

not which he was an access not to

achieves or anything it’s that the goal

is to behave morally is to be a good

human being essentially in fact

interestingly the word virtue that we’ve

been using before you know unfortunately

in English it sounds a little weird

largely because it has sort of very

strong Christian connotations but virtue

in the original Greek is a right a and

heritage just means excellence so what

the stories are trying to say is that we

should try to be excellent human beings

the best human beings you can well what

does that mean I mentioned earlier

living according to nature well the best

human beings are the human beings that

live to the fullest potential of what a

human being can do and that according to

the Stoics is to live socially and

reasonably so the more reasonable you

are sociable you are meaning you’re

helping society not a heaven then then

you the more excellent human being you

so the goal in stories means to become

an excellent mean the best human being

you can as a consequence if you get

there if you become what the story is

call the sage which will be the

equivalent of a list you know

enlightenment sure then you also achieve

attraction also chief complete

surrounded your mind yeah what an

amazing concept this idea of you know

tranquility within oneself while you

know living I think that’s I think

that’s the key here

you know were the Stoics meditators did

they’d meditate well so the word

meditation has of course different

conditions in the auditions and in fact

even with him it has many different

connotations some which are actually

similar to the stoic one and some which

are very different so most West

who have heard of Buddhism they tend to

think about Zen meditation and things

like that and so those are exercises you

do in order to empty your minds of

thought you know focus on now on a

mantra you know let your thoughts go

essentially that kind of meditation is

not found in stores is moving but there

are Buddhist meditations in other

tradition in other Buddhist traditions

that are much more similar to what the

stories think of is a meditation I mean

after all the title the common title of

Marcus Aurelius book is the meditations

right exactly yeah but meditation here

in that same historic sense means

reflection so you want to reflect on

certain things you write your your diary

your philosophical diary so that you

convert from your experience

sanika actually gives specific

instructions on how to do this and a

potatoe starts as well Seneca says you

should you should wait until the evening

before you go to bed don’t do in your

bed because you’re gonna fall asleep but

before you go to bed find a moment of

quiet and a place of quiet in your house

on your apartment and then write down

the answer to the following questions

ask yourself today what did you do wrong

what did you do right and what you could

do could you do better and the point is

you want to know what you did wrong not

because you want to indulge in regret

and flagellate yourself or something

like that that that’s pointless because

the past is outside of your control hmm

but you don’t want to learn from your

mistakes so running them down running

down things like today I did this and I

shouldn’t have done it that is a way to

fix that memory in your psyche a way to

pay attention to the fact that you did

do something well the second thing is

right so what what what is it right

because closing is also very soft

forgiving in other forgiving kind of

philosophy great there are things you

take right in short so pat yourself on

the back because it’s good you need to

pay attention to the things you did

right just as much as the things you did

wrong because after all in the long run

the whole point is to move away as much

as possible from the

things and move away is towards as much

as possible the good thing so basically

what you you can think of your practice

as a way to alter the balance diminish

is much responsible the bad things or

the new mistakes and increase as much as

possible to things and then the third

question is what could I do better well

the reason for asking yourself that

question is because often we encountered

the same or very similar situations but

you go to work every day you see the

same people you run into similar

situations or you go and you have your

family and you come back again no you

can end up very similar situation are

you with your friends and transport and

so maybe today you did not react well on

your job or with your friend or with

your partner but you know the same thing

or something very similar is gonna

happen again tomorrow next week and so

if you pay attention and you ask

yourself what could I do better well how

how is it gonna be better the next time

around I’m going to react better the

next time around again that’s that

because you write it down that’s forcing

you to pay attention it’s essentially in

a sense making a plan for the future and

say okay well the next time is up here’s

what what I’m gonna do and you do that

you know if not everyday Seneca says

actually everyday you know I don’t do it

every day I do it several times of you

know whenever the the need arises I mean

you may have entire days where you don’t

actually do anything is particularly

noteworthy is very right I mean it’s

totally necessary to have these types of

tools that we can use cognitively that

we wear you know whether it’s writing

down you know these things that you feel

you’ve done wrong every day at the end

of every day before you go to bed it it

for me you know I’ve practiced this a

little bit you know inconsistent but you

know it leaves me with a sense of being

cleaned at the end of the day yeah and

runt and and I it’s it it’s almost like

a unloading sort of phase I mean this

the Stoics had these sort of cognitive

behavioral therapies that they practiced

enough so I want leads me in perfect

segue into the

the pre-med etat Tati Oh malorum

anything yes that’s right yeah yes okay

and what do you think about thinking

about bad happening okay you

mentioned the CBT cognitive behavioral

therapy which is one of the most

successful evidence-based the therapies

that you can do today psychotic and

interestingly CBT started out in a

couple different forms one of which was

called rational emotive behavior therapy

am still yes actually and early on in

the 1950s and 60s the people that got

CBT started actually did it expressly by

inspiring themselves to the Stoics and

particularly to and potatoes and marcus

aurelius so there are a lot of

similarities median stoicism of course

stoicism is a philosophy of life so it’s

not just in sound AB it’s not just the

therapy you’re not supposed to use it

only when you have a problem while on

the other hand CBT tends to be more

specific more targeted plpl if you have

an issue like depression or something

like that then you can go to a CBT

practitioner to deal with it you can

think of ever of stories in sort of a

CBT for life in general people have

normal kinds of daily problems so so

that’s the relationship basically

between between the two they work in the

ivied as a scientific evidence based and

therefore stoic techniques work in a

very similar way now let’s go back to

the dance tomorrow just as an example so

for me the past malorum or the exposure

to adversity is in fact does find in

analogy in CBT and civility

practitioners called it an exposure to a

negative stimulus or absorb in stimulus

that you want to avoid so let’s say for

instance that you have a phobia one of

my favorite is phobia or but some people

for whatever reason have a phobia of

their scare buttons okay which you would

think yeah which you have a B on these

buttons that’s right yes okay some

people do have that there is it’s a it’s

a conical condition and of course

there’s no actual reason to be

afraid of buttons but you know people

have some people have a phobia so the

way CBT petition will go about it is

first of all to let you imagine the

button you know before you actually go

in near it or you touch it handle it or

anything you imagine it and you and

started managing you know what’s the

worst thing you can have when I handle

it but is it gonna bite me now is it

gonna poison me no is it gonna do

something really badly No

so you you appear to it yourself

mentally first mentally you know this is

typically done in modern times this plan

is an actual pathologist visualization

exercise you close your your mind your

eyes and then you start thinking your

mind as if you were looking at a movie

watching a movie or yourself doing that

and then eventually you graduate

CBT you actually got way to actually

getting exposed to the stimulus directly

to actually see the button and handle

the button and so on until eventually

you be able to overcome your your fear

now in the case of the preventative

malorum there are examples of this kind

of technique that are found in Marcus

Aurelius and in Seneca and basically

what they’re doing is they’re they are

asking themselves question you so what’s

the worst outcome possibly what’s the

worst thing that can happen so if I go

let’s say let’s let’s use a practical

example it say that tomorrow morning and

have a job interview mm-hmm right well

one way to go from if that’s you there’s

different ways one can do it

visualization I just said it CBT

practitioners to it so you can just

close your eyes and imagine yourself

into the interview and so on another one

is a diary you can write down you know

so look the scenario so what’s gonna

happen or you can talk to somebody about

the scenario there’s number of different

ways but let’s say I need to go tomorrow

for this interview and I’m you know

sorry my turn

worried about this thing well the first

thing you can ask yourself is so what’s

the worst thing you can Africa I don’t

get a job fine I can survive there will

be other jobs there’ll be other

interviews you know or it’s the worst

thing you can happen why I make a full

myself well you know things happen at

sea as finally cessation you know I saw

the end of the world we all embarrassed

ourselves sure and you know you’re

probably never gonna meet that person

again anyway so you start by working

yourself with the worst possible

scenario and then you walk yourself back

and say yeah but that’s the worst thing

what’s the next horseman can’t oh you’re

doing interview doing well and you’re

not quite getting the job but you’re you

know in the final nice well that’s good

what was the next thing that can happen

well the next thing you have in action

you do a really good interview and

you’re doing really well and you

actually get the job and so on so the

notion is to be prepared for the worst

on the grounds that that a the worst

isn’t going to be something you cannot

bear you will be able to deal with it

especially if you’re prepared mentally

with for dance and – the worst is

actually unlikely to happen right it’s

inside it’s not a guarantee it’s not

that you know that fail it’s possible in

fact sometimes it’s likely the things

they’re going to better than you than

you think so it’s a way of reminding

yourself that even the worst-case

scenario is not quite as bad as you

might think

and also that you are capable of

enjoying it you’re capable of

withstanding it exactly if I mean if we

put in front of us like the worst

possible thing that can happen and we

it’s it’s almost a form of understanding

better you know okay like rationalizing

fears you know like so in some way by

seeing this written down on a piece of

paper in front of you you’re you’re

realizing okay well there are ways that

I can deal with this if in the unlikely

chance that it does happen most most

likely it’s this none of this stuff is

gonna go on and going to occur the the

interview has gone perfectly so far –

are you know small technical issues but

it’s been a great conversation and I

think we’ve covered some amazing topics

that you know will really benefit people

so then you know shifting shifting over

once you realize okay

like I’m I’ve listed down all of my

fears in the worst case scenarios then

you know perhaps writing down okay what

are some of the best what are the best

things that can come

of this scenario as well yeah yeah

exactly now there is one exception all

this which is a big one as far as the

Stoics are concerned that’s death one

thing you are not going to overcome

death right and so the story is just

like the Koreans actually write a lot

about death and you fat seneca goes so

far as saying that death is the ultimate

test of character how you actually

approach that is the ultimate test of


now this is one where the worst case

scenario one of these days is going to

happen we’re all gonna die and therefore

the focus there shouldn’t be on

overcoming death that’s impossible I

mean again see above what we’re

discussing you know living life

according to nature and understanding

how the universe works what one thing

there is to understand about how the

universe works is the world mortals die

so then the question isn’t really damped

itself the question is how you can

handle it

how are you prepared when it happens are

you are you Affairs in order are you

mentally prepare are you emotionally

clear I did you prepare your relatives

your loved ones you know did you talk to

them and so on and so forth

those are the things that you can do

those are things under control you can

write the will you can talk to your

friends and family you can prepare

mentally this is gonna happen it’s gonna

happen now after it happens

the Stoics agree completely with the

experience that’s it done there’s

nothing else to do because there’s not

going to be any U&E so there’s so being

afraid of death as in what happens after

you die it’s like there’s nothing to be

afraid of there because there’s gonna be

any you anymore

remember the stories where materialists

they thought that death is the end of

the story you gather we absorbed in the

universe you become part of these of the

what they call the logos the universal

is this notion that we can essentially

recycled as part of universe but we are

not going to exist as independent


anymore and therefore there’s nothing to

be afraid of as it be curious

sometimes actually despite the fact that

it was member of a rival school he is

often quoted by Seneca as a bigger is

sad you know whatever death is you are

not whatever you are she is now it’s

you’re simply not gonna be there you’re

gonna be there before yeah but once it

happened that’s it it’s not gonna be any

more you so don’t worry about it in sin

again Fenton in a very modern passage at

some point writes to his friend

Lucilla’s that that you know it’s silly

to be afraid of what happens after death

those those are the things that the

poets are been scaring as well or the or

the priests have been scaring us with in

order to control us but there’s there’s

nothing to be afraid of because there’s

nothing period there’s gonna be no

sensations since there’s gonna be no

body there’s gonna be no sensation at

all no matter to you I mean how would

you know if you don’t have a body you’re

not awake you’re not aware of anything

it’s it’s not gonna matter to you at all

and if you do then so be it you know you

you decide what you want to do at that

point but if if there’s nothing there

anyway it’s it’s not you’re not going to

have a space to react in so some awesome

I you know we’ve been we’ve been going

for a little while we’ve covered a lot

of stuff I mean is there a way we can

wrap this together with a nice little

bow tie make it pretty well I mean I I

really wanted to to mention your book

that you that you wrote a handbook for

new Stoics it’s it’s actually on the

screen for people to look at we will

provide the Amazon link when does this

book come out the book comes out on May

14th and so it’s just a couple weeks

away yeah I mean hey or less I went I

went through the book and it’s actually

really well-written and really well

structured you tell us a little bit

about it you you there are weekly

exercises that you sort of perform each

week for with a different goal in mind

correct it’s a double fifty-two X’s

money can go on for a year doing this

thing although my co-author Frank Lopez

and I actually

provide a shortcut in the beginning and

say if you don’t want to go through the

whole thing here’s the most important

exercises and then see how you feel

about it and see if you want to proceed

but basically the book is is written as

a workbook as if we were in fact see

media company behave of therapy what

you’re supposed to interact with it you

don’t you don’t just read it the art

actually the publisher the experiment

did a very good job it from a graphic

perspective to highlight the different

parts of the book and living space for

people to write down their notes and

checking boxes and things like that but

essentially every exercise every chapter

is structured the same way it starts out

with a hypothetical day-to-day situation

so somebody who gets upset for instance

because she’s gone to the gym and

somebody else is being misplacing stuff

and so now that gets in the way of her

doing your routine or something like

that so it’s a normal it’s a day-to-day

situation things that can happen to any

any one of us then they immediately

after that we introduce a quote from one

of the major stories usually activist

Seneca or Marcus Aurelius although there

are some others that are put in here and

there and the quote has the red

pertinence it’s directly relevant to the

situation that and they started out the

chapter after the quote we explained the

theory we say okay so here’s why this

particular quote is relevant to this

particular kind of situation here’s how

it’s an actual exercise where the reader

is guided step-by-step throughout the

week into actually practicing whatever

it is that we that the exercise is about

so for instance if it is about not

getting upset you’re gonna say well okay

here are some techniques for not getting

angry here are some techniques for

overcoming the irritation and then

people can write down every day how

they’re doing if they’re good at their

proving or not whether the exercise is

working or not for them then setting

aside on to the second exercise hmm okay

yeah I mean I really love it because it

puts into a frame that you know these


be practical and you you really deliver

that you really deliver a method to sort

of learn the different because I feel

sometimes the the Stoics were a little

abstract you know it can be an

abstraction to discuss emotions like

what is fear really you know like fear

mate means something different for me

than it does to you you know we’re

clearly afraid of different things so

with this you know you’re you’re putting

people into situations with their with

their own lives and it’s you know it is

set up like a workbook I’m just paging

through the book right now and you know

it says on week 14 you just you evaluate

your goals you know and it’s it’s full

of really practical stuff just like that

I mean I’m I’m not only just pitching it

because you’re my guest I’m also

pitching it because I really enjoyed it

thank you yeah I think it’s unique there

are stories another one a few years ago

called happy historic but most of the

stoic this books about modern stories

and then out there are interesting I

mean that there’s a lots of good ones

they tend to be the theoretical or

discursive they talk about the history

stoicism then there’s some reference to

practice for sure but not in a such a

systematic way you know him you know

holding your hand kind of way as the

handbook for new stories which I covered

with Greg focus so I we think that

that’s a unique entry into the Canon so

to speak so hopefully it’ll be useful to

people to actually put this stuff into

practice because it’s Remer remember

stoicism is a practical philosophy it’s

supposed to change your life if it

doesn’t change faragut Tiras again

himself words some of the students he

says you know if you if you came here

just to theory you’re wasting your time

if you don’t get out of this classroom

and i can’t really practice actually

become a better person actually in fact

implement these things then you’re just

wasting your time then it becomes just

an exercise in to run academic exercise

in the bad sense of the word and and

story is supposed to really change your

life and it does

a few years ago and they told me that

you know these this approach it really

has turned things around for them in

some cases helping them out of really

bad situation in other cases just

generally making their lives better

focused you pay more attention to what

you’re doing you’re less prone to anger

and and therefore new people like you

more you better dealing with people and

so on wouldnít be amazing it’s like the

social media version of like road rage

would decrease massively maybe all the

haters we have would just chill out and

relax and you know have a drink and sit

back and not take everything so

personally and right you know it just it

I think it genuinely can help I mean

that’s why we covered this is because I

really think stoicism can offer people

even after so much time now today in the

modern world where we are overrun with

information connection and things that

generally produce anxiety mental illness

is something that people deal with you

know I think one in four people in

America are suffer from some disability

so you know I think I think the mental

frame that we have on things so crucial

so important Massimo thank you so much

for your time and energy and just the

material I loved the way that you you

know wrapped it all together just I know

there’s a lot of it a lot of material

and a lot of these people’s lives like

Seneca epic Titus and Marcus Aurelius

like they they lived very intriguing

lives and so so to you know kind of

bring it back around for us studying

them I think I think you did a great job

well thank you very much this was a lot

of fun yeah I’m certain it will be so

just one more time the book is called a

handbook for new Stoics how to thrive in

a world out of your control

it’s a 52 week by week lessons guide

written by my guest Massimo Pig Leo Chi

and my saying of last name right

Bellucci okay I’m sorry I should have

asked that we’re in a mess of

organization at the beginning and Greg

Lopez is the co-author and and then when

is the date this is gonna be available

May 14th for pre-order now great we will

make that link available in this video

and I’ll send you a link as soon as we

wrap this up I’ll I’ll send you a link

where you can put it out to your feeds

as well

Massimo thank you so much for for being

on the show as our first live format

guest is really truly an honor to speak

to you sir

it was a pleasure thank you thank you so

much guys you heard here that was our

guest I mean wow what an amazing show to

come back on and you know there’s

there’s so much more in store and ahead

we’ve got a whole litany of guests that

are just absolutely going to blow your

mind they are going to blow your mind

that that’s how good it is so be sure

you stay in tune I’m gonna run the outro

I’ve been working nonstop for the last

few weeks just I was in the jungle for a

little while and now I’m back in the

States and we’re going full steam ahead

with everything that’s happening at hxp

so I hope you guys are ready for that

here’s the outro guys thank you so much

and we will see you you will hear from

us next week

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