A rather messy letter which covers physical vanity; the three greatest fears people have; how to avoid getting lynched; when it’s useful to retire from the public eye; and why humour, fear and love are at the heart of the human condition.
We give Seneca a hard time in this one – it’s a rambling letter, but includes a few intriguing vignettes which prompt us to go on our own ramble through some fundamental aspects of the human experience.
We dig into humour and laughter – core elements of being human – and how they work and inform our lives. Stoic laughter doesn’t get much press, but Jon thinks there’s more to the picture here and brings his 10 years’ worth of research on humour to make the case.
Psychology is at the heart of this episode, from why it’s easier to deal with pain when you know it’s coming; why being admired can be as bad as being scorned; why serious scholars believed for decades that women didn’t really have a sense of humour; and how to recognise when your emotional world is actually being controlled by your guts.
Seneca also forces us to make the crucial distinction between living for and knowing that you cannot live without something, from your body to your belief systems. We take off from this to explore our own everyday cognitive biases and how they colour our experience and actions.
Dre revels in his culturalism; we try to enter the mind of Louis CK and his compulsive public masturbation; and we discover some unexpected connections between Stoicism and The 48 Laws of Power.
- The difference (or not) between emotions and feelings
- Vanity and social media
- Anticipation – why it can both horrify and arouse us in equal measure
- Why we’d laugh in the face of death
- Controlling the atmosphere in the room
- Antisemitic probiotics
Find Out More:
- Like us on Facebook to ask for the Audible download code for Seneca’s letters
- The full text for free on WikiSource
- Ryan Holiday’s superb and accessible book on Stoicism: The Obstacle is the Way
- Tim Ferriss’s brilliant TED talk on ‘fear setting’ and Stoicism
- Find out more about the amazing Cory Allen
- Daniel Gilbert’s book, Stumbling on Happiness
- The Humor Code – the book that argues that the root of humour is ‘benign violations’.