Today, we talk about anger.
Everywhere you look, it feels like outrage and anger are on the rise. Populist politicians win elections based on popular anger, and when they lose, they claim their elections had been stolen to further sow outrage. Social media seems to feed on and amplify anger. So much so that we now have new names for the various things that people do when they are angry online — words like cyberbullying, trolling, and doxxing.
At the same time, our political systems are becoming so extreme that it’s now possible for some, even in longstanding democracies, to undermine the basic common agreements of a free society: the rule of law, respect for institutions, and the belief in truth.
And in less established countries, civil war has become a growing specter, if not an everyday reality.
And yet, the dangers of anger have been identified aeons ago. The Stoic philosophers warned that anger has the power to take away our reason. That it always costs far more than the offense which triggers it.
Seneca wrote about anger that: “No plague has cost the human race more dear."
The Stoics have also given us tools to deal with anger and other destructive emotions.
Which is why I was thrilled to sit down with Donald Robertson. Donald is an author, TED speaker, cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist, and trainer. He is one of the founding members of the Modern Stoicism nonprofit, and the founder and president of Plato’s Academy Centre in Athens, Greece. He specializes in teaching evidence-based psychological skills, and is known as an expert on the relationship between modern evidence-based psychotherapy and classical Greek and Roman philosophy.
His books include Stoicism and the Art of Happiness, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, and the graphic novel Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius.
We spoke in mid-December 2022, and I found Donald to be an engaging and fascinating speaker and a great explainer of Stoicism — what it is, who were the Stoic thinkers, and why should we care in this day and age about what they had to say?
In this conversation we talk about:
- How he discovered Greek philosophy at an early age.
- Why Stoicism was considered obscure and not taught for the longest time, and why it’s having its resurgence these days.
- Stoicism as an ancient therapeutic tradition.
- The relationship between modern CBT and Stoicism.
- What is Stoicism? Who were the Stoics?
- The most common misconceptions about Stoicism.
- Then we dive into anger:
- Is anger good or bad?
- What did anger mean to the Stoics?
- What can we learn from the Stoics that can be applied to modern-day?
- Fear and anxiety in the Stoic tradition, and the view from above as a possible solution.
- We also talk about his books and his journey as a therapist and student of Stoicism.
I love finding nuggets of very practical wisdom in ancient texts, especially when they line up so beautifully with what science has to teach us. And the Stoics are definitely a rich source for those insights. More than anything, I think their approach to anger could and should guide us in finding systemic ways to making our technologies, communities, and institutions act as dampeners rather than amplifiers of outrage.
We have some amazing episodes lined up for you with thinkers, designers, makers, authors, and activists, answering questions like:
- Why are more and more people around the world turning to coliving communities as an attractive idea?
- What do most people still need to understand about transgender and non-binary individuals?
- What's the importance of prototyping and prototypes?
- Does everyone need a manifesto?
- And what does it mean to have creative hustle?
But before these episodes can get to you, they need to be edited, audio mixed, and published, and Remake is now in a time of transition as I’m preparing to move my life and business to the United States with a lot of uncertainty around the future of the Israeli business. In order to keep our team running and protect the podcast from the vicissitudes of life, politics, and business, we’re asking for your support.
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We have a lot of plans on how to make Remake into a real community and invest in more content, including short-form content. And of course, the podcast itself will always feature in-depth conversations with people who are trying to change our lives for the better. But right now, we really need your support.
So once again, you can go to RemakePod.org/support, or go to our website and click "Become a Supporter".
And now, let’s jump right in with Donald Robertson.
[7:24] Life in the Present
[9:23] Childhood Driving Forces
[11:05] A Journey to Stoicism
[14:52] The Origin of CBT
[20:29] On Stoicism
[33:36] On Anger
[42:26] The Alternative to Anger
[48:17] On Fear and Anxiety
[55:57] A Graphic Novel Journey
[1:04:56] A Short Sermon
- Donald's Links
- 🌎 Donald J. Robertson Website
- 🌎 Modern Stoicism
- 🌎 Plato's Academy Centre
- 📘 Stoicism And The Art Of Happiness
- 📘 How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius
- 📘 Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius
- 📘 Build Your Resilience
- 📘 The Practice of Cognitive-Behavioural Hypnotherapy
- ✍️ Medium - Donald J. Robertson
- ✏️ Interview: Zé Nuno Fraga
- 🎤 TED Talk
- 💼 LinkedIn: LinkedIn Profile
- 📣 Twitter: @DonJRobertson
- 📺 YouTube Channel
- Other Links
- 🏠 Airbnb
- 📕 A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
- 📕 On the Passions and Errors of the Soul by Galen
- 📕 On Anger: De Ira by Seneca
- 📕 The Handbook (The Encheiridion) by Epictetus
- 📕 Memorabilia by Xenophon
- 🌎 Google Ngram Viewer
- 🎥 Gladiator
- 📚 Yale University Press
- 📕 Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis
- 📕 Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
- 🎤 TED Talk - Alain de Botton
- Remake Podcast: Visit us: RemakePod.org
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