How to be Happier - Stoicism Masterclass | Ali Abdaal | Skillshare

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How to be Happier - Stoicism Masterclass

teacher avatar Ali Abdaal, Doctor + YouTuber

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
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Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Class Trailer


    • 2.

      Welcome to the Class


    • 3.

      The Dichotomy of Control


    • 4.

      Premeditating Adversity


    • 5.

      Voluntary Discomfort


    • 6.

      A View From Above


    • 7.



    • 8.



    • 9.

      Exclusive Bonus Materials


    • 10.

      Dealing with Criticism


    • 11.

      Wealth, Money and Status


    • 12.

      Love and Relationships


    • 13.



    • 14.

      Final Thoughts


    • 15.

      BONUS Stoic Weightloss Journey


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About This Class

In this course Ali Abdaal and Sam Ahmed, The Stoic Teacher, teach you how to apply Stoic principles to your daily life to live happier, healthier lives. 

My FREE Skillshare Bonus Resources
As I mentioned in the course, I’ve now made a bunch of free resources for all of my Skillshare classes, exclusively for my Skillshare students. They’re packed with additional course-related content for every class, and will help you refresh what you’ve learnt, as well as explore some of the other classes you haven’t taken yet. Check it out here.


The Ancient Stoic philosophers had solutions for the problems we face today. The founders of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy were influenced by the words of Epictetus, a former slave who became a philosophy lecturer on the streets of Rome over 2,000 years ago. 

Sam and Ali talk you through the Five Principles of Stoicism:

(1) The Dichotomy of Control teaches you how to focus on the aspects of a situation within your control.

(2) Pre-Meditating Adversity toughens our minds against future potential adversity.

(3) Voluntary Discomfort takes this to a physical level and guards us against the danger of too much comfort.

(4) The View From Above provides us with perspective - something that is much needed in our modern day.

(5) Finally, Journaling provides us with the tools to reflect effectively on all of the above. 

We then move onto five practical applications of the tools you learnt in Phase I. We cover practical applications such as dealing with anger, how to handle criticism and how to have healthy relationships among others. 

Throughout the course Sam and Ali share the ways in which Stoicism has applied directly to their lives. This masterclass provides concrete examples you can take away and apply today.

Who are we?

My name is Ali - I'm a doctor working in the UK, and on the side I make YouTube videos about medicine, tech and productivity. Productivity is probably the issue I get asked most often about on my YouTube channel and across social media. Through reading books, blog posts, articles as well as experimenting with numerous techniques myself over the years, I feel that I've developed a bit of knowledge about productivity and that's why I've decided to put together this extensive series of Skillshare classes to share my own knowledge in the realm of productivity and hopefully help us all work towards living happier, healthier and more productive lives.

Hi, I’m Sam Ahmed, The Stoic Teacher. I’m a Philosophy and Theology graduate from the University of Cambridge, and I now have the pleasure of teaching Philosophy and Religious Studies in South London. I discovered Stoicism in 2017 when I was deeply unhappy and morbidly obese, weighing over 322 lbs. Applying Stoicism to my daily life allowed me to lose over 140 lbs since then. I now spread the philosophy of Stoicism through my Instagram, Facebook and YouTube accounts @TheStoicTeacher with the hope of helping others change their lives too. Be sure to follow for some Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times


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Meet Your Teacher

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Ali Abdaal

Doctor + YouTuber

Top Teacher

Hi there,

I'm Ali, a YouTuber, podcaster, entrepreneur, and online teacher. I graduated from medical school at the University of Cambridge in 2018 and worked as a doctor for two years. Now, I live in London, spending my time making videos, doing podcasts and writing my first non-fiction book.

I started my YouTube journey in 2017, making videos about study techniques and my medical school experience. The channel grew dramatically over the next few years, and I started making videos about broader topics like productivity, wealth, and how to lead a happier, more fulfilled life. This journey on YouTube, along with my love of teaching, led me to where I am now with a wide range of courses on Skillshare.

If you'd like to find out more, please do follow my Skillshare profi... See full profile

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1. Class Trailer: Stoicism is a school of philosophy that dates back to the ancient Greeks, and surprisingly, it's still super relevant in modern-day life. Hey, everyone. My name is Ali. I'm a doctor, YouTuber, and podcaster, and I discovered stoicism right about 2015. Honestly, I think it's one of the main things that makes my life generally tranquil and generally pretty happy and chill. Hi everyone. I'm Sam, a stoic teacher. I'm a philosophy and theology graduate from the University of Cambridge, and I now have the pleasure of teaching philosophy and religious studies in London. I discovered stoicism when I was at a really low point in my life. I weighed over 322 pounds, and quite frankly, my life was at risk. Finding the philosophy of stoicism gave me the values that I needed to lose over 140 pounds of weight and improve my life and work on the projects that were dear to me. I'm really passionate about the philosophy and I now create daily and weekly content about stoicism so that hopefully, I can help others who are in similarly difficult situations. The nice thing about stoicism is that even though it's over 2,000 years old, basically all of the principles that were relevant then are still super relevant now. In fact, this whole industry of productivity, YouTubers and gurus and stuff, is all based on the groundwork that people like Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus laid down for us 2,000 years ago. This class will serve as an introduction to the philosophy of stoicism and will be giving you five concrete techniques throughout the first five lessons that you'd be able to apply right now to your life. Then in the second half, we'll talk about different areas of life in which we can apply these five fundamental principles of stoicism and how Sam and I actually apply these concepts in our daily life for dealing with things like anger, dealing with criticism and haters, thinking about love and relationships, thinking about our own relationship with wealth, money, fame, status, all that cool stuff, and ultimately talking about the power of acceptance. Really all of this serves towards helping us live a more tranquil life where we're less disturbed by external events. Throughout the class, we've got lots of mini-projects, worksheets so that you'll be able to apply these principles immediately to your life because it's one thing knowing things, it's another thing applying them, and that's exactly what we're going to teach you to do in this class. So thank you for watching. We hope you'll join us on this journey of exploring stoicism, ancient wisdom for modern times, and hopefully, we'll see you on the other side. 2. Welcome to the Class: Hello and welcome to the class. Thank you so much for joining us. As we said, maybe in the trailer. My name is Ali. I'm Sam. Yeah. This is stoicism, productivity, how to apply the principles of stoicism to our everyday lives. I first discovered stoicism, I think round about 2016, when I first read William Irvine's A Guide to the Good Life. As soon as I started reading it, I realized, oh my god, like I've been thinking in this way already, but I had no idea that there was, this was a 2,000 year old school of thoughts. What was your introduction to Stoicism? Interestingly, I managed to skyrocket to 23 stone after graduating from Cambridge University and I was morbidly obese and deeply unhappy. I looked into cognitive behavioral therapy because I was thinking about some of my overthinking and thought patterns. Then one of the introductions they mentioned that the Aaron Beck, one of the founders of cognitive behavioral therapy, was inspired by a philosophy of stoicism. As I'd studied theology and philosophy, I looked into it and immediately it changed my life. I mean, my weight had been yo-yoing up and down during the previous two decades. But what stoicism provided is a philosophy of life and underpinning a set of values that helped me to change my life. I've now been able to apply it across all spheres of my life, including productivity at work. Fantastic. That's our introduction or initial journey and stoicism and some of the structure. We're going to split this class into two parts. In the first part, we're going to talk about five of the fundamental actionable principles of stoicism. Yeah, the five concrete techniques that you can apply today. Then in the second half we're going to talk about various specific instances in life where we can then apply the stoic principles. We're talking about dealing with criticism, insults, how we can cope with anger. How Ali deals with his haters. Exactly, and things like how stoicism and stoic principles affects stuff like what other people think about us and the idea of wealth and status and other things like that. If you don't want to watch everything in the class, you never really have to, just go through the videos and pick whatever works for you. Also, we've got a class project, which you'll find in the class project section down below. Do you want to tell us about the class project. Absolutely. So what I've done is I've planned a worksheet for each of the concrete techniques that we go through. For example, the first one is going to be on the Dichotomy of Control. The idea that some things are in our control, some things are outside of our control. There's a worksheet that helps you through particular situations. I won't go through all of them, but will end with journaling and we'll give you specific journal prompts and hear from Ali about some of his, but lots of worksheets for you. Fantastic. Thank you for joining us on this class and let's dive into the five fundamental principles of stoicism. 3. The Dichotomy of Control: Welcome to lesson one, this is the Dichotomy of Control. The Dichotomy of Control is the central principle of the philosophy of stoicism and focuses on looking at what's within our control within the situation and what's not. Epictetus, writing 2,000 years ago said, "Happiness begins with one clear principle," focusing on what's within our control. That's simply what stoicism teaches. I like to call this the IKEA principle. If you were to go to an IKEA and you were in a busy cube and you're walking along, and there's little children running into you as happened to me last week, and you were there thinking, 'Why is this happening," so on and so forth. I'm naturally going to be unhappy. However, if I go with the mindset that I'm going to focus on what's within my own control not other people's actions, then I can keep my tranquility, not worry about the noises that are going on outside at the moment and move forward and be happy. That's the simple idea. We've got some worksheets for you to focus on this. Epictetus, of course was writing 2,000 years ago, but it's amazing to see how stoic philosophy is mirrored in many of the greatest productivity books of the modern era. For example, in Stephen Covey's, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which is one of the world's best-selling productivity books, he talks about this idea of circles of influence and we'll show a diagram over here of what he's talking about. He talks about how people are either proactive or reactive. Reactive people would be the people who would focus too much on things outside of their control. For example, in your IKEA example, a reactive person would be like, "Oh my God, I can't believe these damn kids are roaming around," and everybody let it affect their own tranquility. Whereas a proactive person would focus only on stuff that's actually within their control. They would therefore have a more tranquil, more productive, more happy, more healthy and more meaningful life because you're not wasting brain space under stress, worrying about the stuff that you can't control. Then for example, if you were to read the book Happy by Derren Brown, which is one of my favorite books which is an introduction to Stoicism, but he expands on some of the teachings. He talks about how actually if we really think about what's within our control and what isn't, there are only two things that can possibly be within our control and that's our own thoughts and our own actions. Practically, everything else is at least partially outside of our control. There's so many examples in life where we're tempted to get upset by the fact that we didn't get the grade or that someone beat us in that competition, but all of these things are not within our control. All we can control is our own thoughts and our own actions. If we focus only on those then life becomes a lot less stressful. Absolutely. Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor, writing 2,000 years ago, regularly writes to himself in his journal the meditations that he needs to remember to focus on what's within his control. We could well to take that advice. The stoics say, it's all good knowing things, but how does it actually apply to your life? What we've got is a great worksheet for you, and this has been really helpful for me. What you do is it's got a table for you and it's got a section for particular situations that you face in daily life. I gave you the example of when I went to IKEA and had people bumping into me. I would put situation went to IKEA. I was really frustrated by what was going on. I just put a brief description of the situation. Then what I would do is I'd also have the date so we can track these situations and how our thoughts improve over time. There'll be two simple columns. One for analyzing the elements of a situation within your control and the other for the elements outside of your control. Actually whilst it sounds simple, when you get it down on a piece of paper and you're able to actually analyze what it is that you were thinking, it really allows you to clarify the small things that you allow to disturb your tranquility. It's a really powerful tool and I hope it's useful for you. Yeah, absolutely. The whole point of doing these worksheets is that at the start, if you're not familiar with stoicism or if you don't just by default think in this way already, what we need to do is we need to rewire our brains into thinking in a certain way. This is actually the basis for cognitive behavioral therapy as we've talked about. It's based on the more we practice certain thought processes, the more they become natural and there's a phrase in neuroscience which is "Axons that fire together, wire together." If the bits of the brain, if you make them fight together more and more often, they will end up permanently wiring together. For me, anytime now I get into any situation where I feel like my tranquility is disturbed, I will just think, "Okay, what's in my control, what's not in my control?" It will just be an almost automatic thought process, which is why I almost never have serious negative emotions because it's always related to things that are outside of my control. So the worksheet is for practicing this and then hopefully over time it becomes a natural habit. Thank you for watching this video about the Dichotomy of Control and we'll see you in the next one for principle number two. 4. Premeditating Adversity: Principle number 2 is premeditating adversity. Right. This is a very powerful stoic meditation technique and you would think that it was written this year because it's so relevant to us now, but it was actually 2,000 years ago, and even earlier, that stoics were coming up with these ideas. The simple idea is, rather than avoiding some of those difficult thoughts about what might happen in the future, for example, breaking up with your partner, you actually meditate upon those potential negative things. Now, when I mention this to people, they say, you must be fun at parties, sitting there thinking about your death and whatever. But the point is, when I spoke to esteemed author on stoicism, Donald Robertson and cognitive behavioral therapist, he explained to me that this is an alternative to the psychological technique of avoidance. It's exposure therapy. The physical equivalent would be, say, someone has a cat phobia and you put them in a room full of cute kittens. Initially, they'll be very stressed, and then eventually, they might look around and think, these kittens are actually really cute. Similarly, this is a psychological example of that exposure therapy. What we're doing is, each day, we're thinking about some of those really difficult things that might happen in future. Then in a way, it inoculates us. It protects us when it eventually happens. A stoic would never say, I can't believe this is happening because they will have premeditating some of these really serious events. One example that Epictetus used to say is that, I think there's a quote from him that says, "Every night, as you're kissing your daughter good night, remind yourself that she is mortal and that she might just die overnight," or something like that. I'm sure he phrased it in a more poetic fashion. The point is that it's not about fixating on the fact that your daughter might die and fixating on the idea of immortality. It's about reminding yourself that actually, what I've got right now is really good and I don't want to squander it. That is why premeditating adversity is so good because in a way, it actually makes it easier and it helps us love the things that we're doing and love the people around us a lot more because we are consistently reminding ourselves that this might pass. It absolutely fosters gratitude for the things that we have now. Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor writing 2,000 years ago, one of the three key authors that we talk about in this class, says that when you wake up in the morning, and by the way, he was writing this in his personal journal. This isn't to us. He was trying to remind himself, once you wake up in the morning, say to yourself, I will come across vicious, ungrateful, arrogant, deceit people, and the list goes on. The reason he says that is that when he then later comes across people, and I imagine being an emperor was a stressful job, when he comes across these difficulties, he's meditated upon it first thing in the morning. If this served as a tool for a Roman emperor, I'm guessing it might help us when we're getting a bit stressed about the milk running out for the cereal. Related to all this, there's a very good blog that you might have come across before called Wait But Why., written by a guy called Tim Urban, one of my favorite blogs on the internet. Super popular. He's got an amazing blog post called The Tail End. The point he makes in the The Tail End is that, for example, if you're over 18 and you've graduated secondary school and you're no longer living with your parents, then anytime you see your parents, basically from now on is going to be like the final one percent of time that you will ever spend with your parents, because such a huge amount of the time that we spend with our mom and dad is when we're in school, and then after that, it becomes a little less. We are in the tail end of the time that we're spending with our friends. Sam and I went to university together. We used hang out all the time. Now, we see each other like twice a year on average. Anytime we hangout, it is the final one percent of the time that we're ever going to hang out before we die. Just meditating on this, the fact that we are in the tail end of all these important relationships in our lives, I think that really helps us appreciate their importance. So if I'm tempted to be annoyed at my mom for whatever, then I just have to remind myself, no, this is the tail end. This is the last 0.5 percent of time that I'm ever going to spend with my mom. Therefore, I should be a bit nicer. That's related to this idea of premeditating adversity. I think what that sums up is far from being some morbid, negative thought. This is a practice to foster gratitude and positivity within our relationships. Similarly, we've got a guided worksheet today, which will prompt you. There's specific prompts for you to fill in. There will be guides for how many minutes you should review a particular situation. What I'm going to do is I'm going to link to the meditation that I use every single morning, which is a recording from my favorite stoic author, Donald Robertson, which was on SoundCloud and freely available, and this guides you through premeditating adversity. It's four or five times you actually go through particular situations, imagining them in detail. It's amazing, when I do it in the morning, there's such a load off my chest. Fantastic. Thank you for watching this video about premeditating adversity, and we will see you in the next one for the third principle of stoicism. 5. Voluntary Discomfort: Let's talk about principle number 3 in our stoicism and applying it to daily life, and that is the idea of voluntary discomfort. This is the concrete stoic technique that changed my life more than any other. It's a physical manifestation of the last one that we looked at in terms of putting ourselves in difficult situations so that we're prepared for those in the future. Seneca says, "When pleasures have corrupted both mind and body, nothing seems to be tolerable, not because the suffering is hard, but because the sufferer is soft." Nice. The idea being that if we've put ourselves through difficult situations, then we're prepared in future for misfortunes that might come across us, and this really helped me to welcome discomfort. You hear people like Joe Rogan and Jocko Willink, modern-day thinkers say this stuff all the time, do stuff that's difficult. A sense of that for the language, do stuff that's difficult. Do stuff that's difficult. A mantra. That mantra became ingrained in my mind when I was 22 stone trying to get to a healthy weight in order to save my life because it was just out of control. Getting up at five in the morning, going to the gym, eating just plain chicken breast and broccoli. I was welcoming it because of stoicism. This is why I say stoicism is sticky. Something that beyond the productivity and motivation books give us, it provides us with values that underpin these ideas. Yeah, absolutely. You might be familiar with the YouTube channel, Yes Theory, fantastic channel, their whole mantra is seek discomfort. That is a 2,000-year-old stoic idea about voluntary discomfort. People like Tim Ferriss or Joe Rogan, they all talk about applying this in certain ways to our day-to-day life. I think something that, was it Seneca used to do? Is that I think once a month, he would encourage people to essentially live on the streets as a homeless person and eat only beans, and remind yourself once you get through it, that is this the condition that I so feared? Because a lot of us have in the back of our minds that this idea that life would be absolutely terrible if we don't get our way. But if we consistently and often enough remind ourselves, experiences voluntary discomfort, that this actually isn't so bad. I have survived this. Then it's a way of, again, being more tranquil throughout life. It's another example of the exposure therapy that we were talking about last time. Once you've actually faced it, it doesn't seem quite so bad and it prepares us for those future adversities. Absolutely. I think this is what the whole, like people doing cold showers, that is like a whole thing in the productivity guru space. One of the main points of taking cold showers in the morning is that you're voluntarily seeking that discomfort. Once you've done that, then you're approaching the rest of the day with more optimism because you've already done this really difficult, uncomfortable thing. For me, there's another area in life in which I apply this, and that's anytime I'm outside and feeling cold, for example, if I don't have my jacket, I'm wearing a t-shirt and shorts and there's been a bit of a breeze, the temptation is to allow that to affect my tranquility to suffer internally because it's cold. But anytime I do that, I'm just reminding myself, no. Voluntary discomfort. I'm choosing to be cold, and I feel a little bit zen about it. I'm like yeah, it's cold. The sensation of the cold on my skin. The fact that I've got a few goosebumps here and there. Voluntary discomfort, it's fine. Then I lean in to the fact that it's cold and it feels uncomfortable. That's just again, because I almost never experience negative emotions, being cold outside is one way of experiencing negative emotions, and that side of it just gets completely nullified if you do this voluntary discomfort thing. To add on to that, this is applicable, not just in terms of being cold, having cold showers, but to many, many spheres of life. For example, when I'm trying to push through for my last rep at the gym, there's that part of my brain that says just stop. Please, just stop. But I remind myself, no, voluntary discomfort, and you go. The task for this project is actually going to be for you to choose your thing. What's it going to be? Is it going to be a cold shower? Is it going to be sleeping on a harder surface than usual? Is it going to be at the gym pushing out those last few reps that you usually would have just said, oh, let me go have a coffee instead? That's the stoic idea of voluntary discomfort, which we can apply to our lives in various different ways. Thank you for watching and we'll see you in the next video. 6. A View From Above: Principal number 4 in the world of stoicism is this idea of having a view from above. This is a very powerful meditative technique that allows us to have perspective in those times where we might be getting lost in some of the details, the nitty gritty of life. Marcus Aurelius who I've spoken about in previous classes writing in the meditations, remember, this book wasn't intended for us to read, this was his private journal, regularly reminds himself of the impermanence of time, the impermanence of others, the impermanence of himself. This quote, he says, "People who are excited by fame forget that the people who remember them will soon die too." Perspective. He was a Roman Emperor and he realized that the kinds of things that people are chasing, and I'm sure, Ali, you can think of modern examples, the kinds of things that people are chasing in the end don't have the value that they're trying to prescribe to them. By imagining ourselves in the corner of a room observing ourselves, that's the first step. You realize actually, that's not that big a deal. Then you imagine yourself outside your building, and you look in and you think about all the issues that are going on amongst all these other people. Then you extend it as though you're looking down at Earth. There's a meme, I don't know if we can have it flash up on the screen. There's a meme that says, "The milky way with Earth, the milky way without Earth, and the images were identical." Because quite frankly, we're tiny, and sometimes we need that perspective. Another one from Marcus Aurelius, which I think sums this up before I pass over to Ali is "The whole sea is a drop in an ocean, how quickly this one will be gone." [inaudible] Ali, I know that these techniques have been helpful for you. Yeah. What we're trying to do here is get this mental toolbox of different strategies that we can apply to different areas of our life with the ultimate goal of preserving our tranquility and living happy, healthy, productive lives because that's what we're all about. When we come across a situation that disturbs our tranquility, we run through our mental toolbox of things. You know, Dichotomy of Control, pre-meditating adversity, and having a sense of perspective. I really like this idea of looking from the corner of the room, and then zooming out a little bit and thinking, "Does this actually matter in the grand scheme of things?" One way that I think about it is, is this thing going to matter in 10 minutes time? What about 10 days time? What about 10 weeks time? What about 10 years time? Usually, by the time I get to the 10 years, I'm actually it's often even by the 10 days time, I get to the point where, I'm like, this thing doesn't actually matter and therefore, I don't need to allow it to affect my tranquility. This is another one of those fundamental aspects of stoicism that, when stuff affects our tranquility it's often not the thing itself but it's the internal interpretation. It's the story that we've told ourselves about the thing that is disturbing our tranquility. When it comes to zooming out and having some perspective, there's so many situations that we can apply this to. There's one that I often use to use this for before it became ingrained, and that was when I used to struggle to put my hand up in class to ask questions. Because in my head I'd be, "Oh, I don't want to put my hand up to ask a question because A, it's going to be weird to interrupt people. B, people are going to think I'm an idiot for not knowing the answer. C, people are going to think I'm a nerd, because I've got the audacity to ask the question in a lecture." Then I'll just zoom out a bit and be like, "What the hell I'm actually worried about? Who actually cares?" If you have a little bit of sense of perspective, then you realize that this is such a trivial worry. Therefore, I put my hand up and ask the question. Now, I have literally less than zero qualms about putting my hand up in a lecture or in a class to ask a question about something I don't understand. I know that if I'm having that problem, a lot of other people are having that same problem as well. Also, this idea of perspective extends beyond just zooming out. It's also helpful to sometimes try and imagine situations from another person's point of view, like changing the perspective up a little bit. Fairly a trivial example is, I remember when I was a medical student, and we'd be on placements in hospitals, and there'd be senior doctors around us. Often, as a medical student in that situation, you feel a little bit like, "Oh, I don't want to disturb them. I don't want introduce myself because what if they get annoyed?" At that time, I always used to imagine myself from their perspective like their doctor. If I really imagined myself from that perspective, I realized that actually if they've got a medical student on the ward. They'd probably want me to say hello and be friends with me, and would want to explain stuff. Now that I'm a doctor and I see medical students, I really appreciate the other side of that perspective. There's absolutely no need as a medical student to be shy about approaching the doctors. It makes their day when you're around, because it makes life a little bit less boring. Because it gets very routine a lot of the time, and then the medics are there. It's awesome. Just the idea we want to keep in mind that, we can zoom out from situations, but we can also zoom out into another person's perspective. That often helps us overcome whatever mental barriers holding us back from living our best lives as they say. Two things. One, Ali, I struggle to believe that you were ever shy in terms of asking questions. Number 2, isn't interesting to see that these guys were writing 2000 years ago. How universal and timeless this philosophy is that it can be applied by a med school student. It can be applied by a YouTuber, or it can be applied by pretty much any one. Very, very powerful tool. As always, there's a worksheet, and the class product section that guides you through different exercises that you can do to help make this thought process a little bit easier. Thank you for watching, and we'll see you in the next video. 7. Journaling: All right. The final concrete practical technique in Stoicism is the idea of journaling. Absolutely. Right in 2,000 years ago, Seneca, one of our three key authors, he wrote about what he does when his wife's gone to sleep, and it's now dark. He sits down and he examined his entire day. When was I a bit too harsh? When did I do well? So that the following day he can reflect upon this in the morning and then have a wonderful day, and actually, 2,000 years later, there's a plethora of journals on the market. Plethora? Yes. Big word there. So many of these journals around bullet journals and actually it's a really powerful tool, simple yet powerful. When I first found myself doing it, I remember realizing that I'd been unnecessarily angry whilst driving, how dare that person cut me up, and getting it down on a piece of paper, like I said about one of the earlier techniques, getting it down on a piece of paper and looking at it, you honestly think to yourself, what was I thinking? It allows you to just plan properly for the day ahead. Absolutely. There's like so many, like basically the whole modern day productivity group has taken over this idea of journaling and applied it to so many different spheres. There's a few different techniques that I kind of dabble with from time to time. The one that I do most days is called morning pages. The idea behind morning pages is that at the start of the day, you take a notebook and you just write three pages by hand about whatever comes to mind, and you're not allowed to get up until you've written three pages. For example, one way of starting that off is to say today is going to be an awesome day because dot, dot, dot. That's like a good prompt to get you started and it primes you into being in a kind of gratitude and generally optimistic mood. It's just like really nice and it's hard to describe how useful it is until you actually do it. So that's one technique. Another one is, as our friend, Seneca has talked about, doing a journal at the end of the day. If I look on my Notion, I actually have a journaling template for this that will include down in the project section below. Nice. It's under my life operating system. While you're loading that, can I just say how amazing it is to see that Stoic ideas and now on our MacBooks on Notion. I mean, honestly, 2,000 years ago these guys gave us the answers. So on my Notion LifeOS thing, I have a weekly review template and a daily journal template. I shared the daily journal one. This is based on my friend, Valentine Perez's thing and we have a deep dive livestream on my YouTube channel that you can check out that has more about why this is the way that it is. We have a morning and an evening journal. On the morning we have, what did I dream? Because I'm trying to remember my dreams. Three things I'm grateful for, looking forward to, what under my control would make today even more great? Cheeky bit of dichotomy of control right there. Very nice. Idea for experiment run. If I lived even more consciously, freely, and courageously, I would do, dot, dot. I am; this is where you can put some affirmations if you want. The most important thing to focus on, it's important to have this idea of a daily highlight. Then at night we've got three wins: 1, 2, 3. One thing that I learned is the breakthrough idea, more on that in the other video. Here's the one, one thing I could have done to make today better and how can I apply it tomorrow? Something I could have said better, for example. That's that thing if you said, reflecting on your day and figuring out what were the moments where I maybe could have acted in a slightly different way. Not in like a self-critical way, but more in a being conscious self and recognizing that you can always do something differently the next time. Am I resisting something for everything on my day? Short story of a moment today, quite like that. Experiment slash hypothesis from today. What could I do tomorrow that has high leverage and request for the subconscious mind to sleep on. I don't do this every day, but there was a time during lockdown where I was doing this actually, consistently every single day and I really found that it helped. One of my friends, Matt D'Avella, a fellow YouTuber, you might have seen his videos here. He has a video called "I Journaled for 30 Days" or something like that. Over the course of the year and last year, he did like a load of these 30-day experiments. At the end of the year on his roundup, he said that journaling was one of the ones that stuck the most for him. Even though he doesn't do it every day, he finds that when he gets to a point where his tranquility is disturbed, classic Stoic idea, he then finds that doing his journaling, and he uses just a physical journal, really helps with that. This is the self-journal which I've been dabbling around with. It's got like a guide and stuff and in the daily journal it talks about, in the morning, it says this morning I'm grateful for: and it gives you space for one, two, and three. Then at night, you write down lessons that you've learned, wins for the day, and tonight, I'm grateful for: 1, 2, 3. Then at the end of the week, you do the weekly journal, which says, what is the happiest event that happened this week? What were my three big wins for the week? Reviewing goals, assessing progress, what's the biggest lesson that I learnt? All of these modern day productivity tools, it's all based on this 2,000-year-old concept of journaling, which the Stoics, I guess pioneered. This is why we say Stoicism is sticky because journals would come and go, but these timeless techniques will be there as, [inaudible] calls it the inner citadel, the inner fortress that helps you to move forward and live happily and healthily. That was the fifth principle of Stoicism that is journaling. Thank you for watching and we'll see you in the next section of the class, where we're going to talk about how we actually, practically apply these theories into different contexts that we'll find ourselves facing in everyday life. Thanks for watching and we'll see you in the next video. 8. Anger: All right, everyone. Welcome to phase 2 of the class. We've talked about the five fundamental principles of Stoicism, the toolbox of mental models and stuff that you can start applying to your life in various ways. We're now going to go over various real life situations and how the famous stoics and also modern-day stoics like you and me, how we apply the principles of stoicism to these issues in everyday life. In this video, we're talking about anger. I'm really excited about this phase because as the Stoics always used to say, there's knowledge and there's wisdom, you know the stuff, how does it actually apply to life? To us. This first one is one that I think will resonate with many of you, it certainly resonates with me, and it's about anger. Seneca writing, of course, 2,000 years ago, has called anger one of the greatest plagues in human history. He says that it's responsible for slaughters, massacres, and he views it fundamentally as the thing that holds humanity back as a race. I think if you fast forward 2,000 years, I don't think you would have seen much progress when you look around the world today. We have to think about why that is. As you start applying those five techniques that we've looked at, you'll start to notice that this is a common theme that would likely pop up throughout your day. Like I've mentioned, road rage, or whether it's getting frustrated about a noise outside, or that someone else finished the milk in the fridge. Seneca wrote a full essay on this. When people hear an essay, they think, this is probably going to be a page. No, this is essentially a full book on anger. I would highly recommend it. I've done a three-week series on anger on the stoic feature so you can go and check out those quotes. Seneca said, the greatest remedy for anger is delay. Taking a moment to pause and think before we do something. Now, a counterargument that he addresses in the essay is, we need anger to motivate us. Without anger, we wouldn't get out of bed or do the things that we need to do, righteous anger, the anger that makes us act. Now, in response to this, he says to people, they say surely anger is necessary against our enemies or bad things. He says, "In no case is it less necessary since our attacks ought not to be disorderly, but regulated and under control." A boxer isn't going to go into the ring, really angry, flailing his hands around because he's going to get knocked out within a second. The person that wins needs a calm, cool head. So he strongly argues against this idea. I know, Ali, you've got thoughts on this. Yeah, this is one of those things where I think possibly in the modern day, we're very keen to dismiss this idea because we like thinking that anger is useful. We like thinking, anger is what drives people to protest. Anger is what drives people to make change in their lives and to make change in the world. To an extent, maybe that's true. But I think in basically 99.9 percent of circumstances, you can have that change without having the anger. What is anger? It's an emotional response to a situation. It is disturbing our tranquility inwardly and people say that if you then get angry, then you can convert to that inner feeling of emotional turmoil into outward action. But you can just do the outward action without the feeling of internal turmoil. You don't need to have your tranquility disturbed in orders to protest. You don't need to have your tranquility disturbed if you want to be assertive with someone because they've done something mean to you at work. In all of those circumstances, the anger is a net negative rather than a net positive. If you're the person who can't act without anger, then it's probably just a story that you're telling yourself. At least that's what the Stoics would say, we absolutely can choose to do things rationally rather than thinking that I need to have this emotional response of anger in order to do something. Equally, it would be completely ridiculous for me to say, yeah, I'm good, drives me to action, therefore, I would like the surgeon operating on me to be angry while he's operating. Obviously not. You want him to have a calm, cool head, and not let anger go into the fray. I read in Derren Brown's book, Happy, which is all about stoicism and stuff. He talks about anger and he talks about how in the 20th century, there was this prevailing view that anger is this thing and we can't bottle it up. We have to release it. Kids would get advice that, if you have an anger problem, then you should take a pillow, put it in your garden, and just beat the pillow against the floor, you should punch the pillow really hard because it lets your anger out. The point that Derren Brown makes in the book is that actually, there's no evidence that any of this actually works. Anger is simply the story that we tell ourselves about a series of events that didn't really go as per our plan. I think on a definitional point. At no point are Stoics saying that you should repress your emotions. Seneca, when he describes anger, he's specifically talking about anger that leads to a loss of control. The argument would be that losing your control in that situation is a good thing, which he argues is absurd. On another point, the Stoics are talking about frustration and things like that. They think that that's absolutely natural. In terms of technical language, it's called a proto-passion. Let's say there was a really loud noise outside right now, Ali and I would be like, what was that? There's nothing wrong with that and there's nothing wrong even with a bit of thinking, what was that thing? But then at that point, when we then use our reason to think, there was a noise outside, what could that mean logically? Is it the case that it's some fatal incident? An explosions or something like that. Yeah. Or is it more likely that it's something else? We then have a look, examine it, and move forward. Once we let the proto-passion take over, and this is why Seneca is so adamant that we don't let it take over, we don't fall into this trap of like this anger is okay right now, because once it takes hold, if we take that proto-passion and then we say, Yeah, no, this is definitely happening, it's hard to come back down. That's why Stoics say proto-passions are perfectly natural. We don't want them to develop into passions and that word meaning not passion in the way we talk about today, but as a negative emotion such as anger, which is viewed as the worst passion. That's a really important point. Not repressing it. Frustration is fine, but this anger and loss of control, which we regularly see lead to harm in the world today. That's the thing that we really need to avoid and there are a number of strategies in order to help us avoid those, including some of the techniques we talked about in phase 1. On that note of proto-passions as well, this is something that I think about anytime I find myself experiencing a negative emotion. I can't do much about the fact that I've experienced this emotion, so if I feel a flash of anger because someone has done something to me or whatever, then that would be the proto-passion. That would be the subconscious response to the stimulus. But then almost immediately, the reason I would feel a sense of anger is because I'm then reinforcing the story to myself and being like, I felt that flash of anger. That person's a mean person. They should have been like that. Therefore, I'm going to feel angry, for some reason. So we can't do anything about the proto-passion, but we can choose to tell ourselves a different story of events. The more you practice this, the more the axons that fire together, wire together, the more you recognize the emotion, and immediately, you start working back. Now, if I feel a flash of anger, I'll be like, that's interesting, and I examine it and be like, why I am are feeling that way? Because that person said that thing and that made me feel this way, and I suppose the reason it made me feel this way is because the story I'm telling myself is that that person should we behaving honorably. But because I've done my premeditated adversity, I know that people sometimes don't behave honorably, and it's completely unfair of me to expect that, therefore, yeah, fair enough. I might also say to myself that, yeah, I guess if I were in their position, that's how I would interpret events as well, and it makes sense that they said that mean thing to me. I'm not going to take it personally. It's purely a result of the circumstances. Then I find that my flash of anger is replaced by this cool headed, CBT-ing myself out of feeling the actual anger because feeling the actual anger, defined as a loss of control, is never, ever going to be helpful. I'm going full teacher mode here now and you'll have to forgive me. There is homework on the course project. What I'd really like you to do is go back and look at the dichotomy of control technique, and when doing it, I want you to focus specifically on when you're feeling proto-passions. Has a proto-passion been present when you're facing a particular situation, reflecting on anger specifically this week? Because no matter how at peace you are, there will be something that will rile you up. It's the way of the world. Absolutely. Thank you for watching this video about anger based on Seneca's essay on anger. We'll see you in the next video. 9. Exclusive Bonus Materials: Hello again, how's it going? I probably look a little bit older than when you're watching this class because I'm filming this after the fact. Because just to let you know, we have just added an enormous amount of totally free bonus material over to my website, which facilitates all of the different skill share classes that we have here on the platform. So if you head over to Ali, forward slash Skillshare, resources that lingual appear here and also down in the projects and resources section or wherever you happen to be seeing this Skillshare often changes the structure of the website, so it'll be linked somewhere on this page and also right here, so you can go to that URL and that will give you access to a bunch more bonus information relating to all of the different Skillshare classes. For some of those that might be Notion templates for some of them might be PDFs and worksheets and bonus material. It's all on the website, it's all completely free and you can check it out with that link. Anyway. I hope you enjoyed the class. I'd love it if you can leave a review if you haven't already and hopefully see you in the next one. Bye bye. 10. Dealing with Criticism: In this video we're talking about how to deal with criticism/dealing with haters. This is something that I'm very familiar with. Something that you started to become familiar with in your Facebook page, Instagram page, side hustle. How do we do it? Teach us how to deal with criticism and deal with haters. Naturally this is one of the main things I think they probably got asked about. We're constantly thinking, "How do I stop this guy being mean to me?" Epictetus says this, it's a really good strategy. Remember writing 2,000 years ago. It worked then, I think it will work now. He says, "If you learn that someone is speaking ill of you, don't try to defend yourself against rumors. Respond instead with, ''Yes." He doesn't know the half of it because you could have said more. I like to call this the eight mile principle, anyone that's seen the movie 8 Mile, with Eminem. Massive spoiler alert, but it's so many years old, it's your fault at this point. In the last rap battle at the end, basically it's clear that the guy has got lots of dirt on Eminem. They've done lots of horrific things. Eminem goes out first and he decides to essentially list all of the bad things that they could say about him. Then, when the mic goes to the other guy, he has nothing to say because Eminem's not arguing against the bad things. He said them himself, which shows that he's not valuing things outside of his control. He's done what's in his control, which is, I'm owning my stuff. Actually seeing Ali's YouTube channel grow, this is one of the things I've found most entertaining and most proudest of because, well, you just manage to handle it so well. Thank you. Often I'll get questions like, "Oh bro, how do you deal with criticism? How do you deal with the haters?" Firstly, there's not that many haters. When you make educational videos on the Internet, people have this weird idea that the YouTube comments section is a cesspit of badness. The only video where it was a real cesspit is when I tried to react to a Microsoft Surface and where I'm an Apple fan boy. If you stay away from obviously controversial topics that incite people's righteous crusading levels of violence, then it's actually a very nice place to be. Occasionally, I'll get the odd comment, just like saying funny stuff. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, recently had one of those anti-trust hearings in Congress, through a Zoom call. In his opening remarks, it's very interesting to read. He talks about how Amazon as a company deals with criticism. What he says is that, well, when we get criticism, we look at it and we decide whether it's true or if it's not. He says, if it is true, then we decide if we want to change based on that criticism. If we do, then we change and if we don't, we don't. That's a simple, very easy flow chart for dealing with criticism. That's how I think about it as well. If someone leaves a mean comment, I think to myself, is this true or is it not? If it is true, I'm thinking, okay, fair enough. I can see how they think that. Do I want to change my behavior based on this comment or not? Usually it's quite funny as well, so I just screenshot it and post it on my Instagram story. I'll give them a little heart, so that the person who spend the time writing that comment can feel acknowledged and feel like I've acknowledged their comment. Then I just forget about it because for the most part, who cares? I think because I was so into the Stoicism stuff before I started the YouTube channel. When I started getting hate comments, it just bounced off me because of all of the different tools we talked about. The Dichotomy of Control in pre meditating adversity. That not letting things disturb you in a state of tranquility. It doesn't affect me in the slightest. It's just amazing, isn't it? That these guys were writing two thousand years ago. This is why I always say ancient wisdom for modern times. Two thousand years ago and here they are. You are able to now use platforms like Twitter, Instagram stuff that wouldn't have been around back then but look at how relevant the advice is. This is why I say, a universal philosophy, timeless advice. There's another really good quote from Marcus Aurelius. He says, "If it doesn't harm your character, how can it harm your life?" That's the thing with criticism. If someone's criticizing me, it's not actually harming my character. Therefore, there's no way that it can harm my life. It's just that person doing the thing. There's another aspect of dealing with criticism which Gary Lee talks about that I really like. Which I think is rooted in stoic ideals because he talks about that some of the time. He says that when you get a hate comment, what you want to think to yourself is, you want to do that perspective thing and you want to think about, put yourself in the mind of the person who's written that comment. Something must be seriously wrong with their life. That they're sitting on the computer or their phone, they're watching a video that's designed to be educational. The thing that they are driven to do is write a mean comment, to some stranger on the Internet. You have to feel empathy and feel pity for a person like that because, you just feel, "Oh man, I'm so sorry that you're in this position." You just, feel love towards them. I try and remind myself of that when I get a comment. Yeah, okay, cool, this is funny, but also it's sad that there's a person on the other end, who thought to write this comment. So funny, you say that Marcus Aurelius pretty much said exactly that, didn't he? When he said, when you wake up in the morning, think you're going to see arrogant, envious, all these different people, but it's not their fault. He often says you should, rather than getting angry about it, you should maybe feel sorry, or try and help those people. What's point in getting angry, when you could help someone? Yeah, absolutely. Even outside of the context of haters online, a lot of us have this thing where we struggle to deal with criticism in daily life. I've seen this over the years in med school and being a doctor. There are some people who will get some constructive criticism, that breaking bad news conversation could have gone a bit better because of ABC. There are some people who will think, okay cool, thank you for letting me know, I'm going to use this to grow, a growth mindset. There are other people who will have more of a fixed mindset, where they feel like, oh my god, my entire being has been crushed because someone has said that I'm less than perfect. As we said, the only thing in our control is our own thoughts and our own actions. We can recognize that, we are not perfect. It would be absolutely absurd to think that as a first year junior doctor, I'm amazing at breaking bad news. There's a regular graph that Derren Brown talks about in his book Happy, which again, is rooted in Stoicism. Which is, if you imagine a straight line up, being the actions you are doing to get somewhere. Then you imagine that fate is on the x-axis, so fate is actually moving you and you end up with a diagonal line. So you can do whatever you want but actually, fate is going get in the way, and therefore, you're not actually going to get to the destination you thought you were going get to purely on your own actions. The nice thing about stoicism, is it tells us the only thing in our control is our own thoughts and our actions. We can't control how our words are being interpreted by someone else. We can't control anything about that. So to the best of my ability, I will have this breaking bad news discussion if the circumstances are such, where I may have misspoke or I may have done something wrong or maybe just the circumstances were such that my words were interpreted in the way that I didn't want them to or just that the family I'm explaining to is so heartbroken that whoever was to have that conversation, it would not go well. All of that stuff is outside of my control. Therefore, I'm not going to let it affect my tranquility. The only thing in my control is my own thoughts and my own actions. I can work to improve my own actions at next time, dealing with the situation a little bit differently, but I can't fundamentally control how other people perceive it. That is their task. That is not something in my control. Therefore, why would I feel kind of personally upset by that situation? Epictetus puts it really well. He actually says when something happens, you have two choices. You either accept it or you resent it. Now, if you accept it, that's the path of the tranquility. It's happened anyway, if you choose to resent it, you're going to be unhappy. Which choice are you going to make? This is something we're going to come back to you in one of the later lessons actually, but which choice are you going to make? Accept it or resent it? Absolutely. That was a little video, about how to deal with criticism, how to deal with haters. Thanks for watching, and we'll see you in the next one. 11. Wealth, Money and Status: Welcome back. In this video we're talking about wealth, money, status, all that good stuff. Now, when we were eating earlier, Ali asked me what's the biggest thing that stoicism helped to change? Aside, of course, from the 10-stone weight loss. What I said was this idea of what is it that I value? One of the main things stoics talk about is that if you value wealth and status as the thing amongst everything else, that's the most important. You're fundamentally going to be unhappy because it's outside of your control. You can't control how much wealth you accumulate. You can of course, do what's within your control to work towards it. Marcus Aurelius says, ''People who are excited by feign, forget that the people who remember them will die soon.'' The quote that we've looked at before. But when talking about perspective, but the idea is, okay, fair enough. You accumulate all this wealth and status but if that's all that you've worked towards, what have you really achieved? For a stoic, the highest good is working towards virtues. This is something that we don't have the time to go into full depth on. But the idea is, are you being courageous? Are you working towards justice? Are you doing those things that improve your character and help others? Because stoicism as fundamentally about helping others. Are you working towards those things or do you just want to accumulate wealth for the sake of it? On the other hand, Seneca was a very wealthy man. People often throw this back at people who talk about stoicism. The thing is, he said, ''It's okay to have wealth. It's okay to be part of the world as long as you don't become overly attached to it, have it as long as you'd be comfortable with losing it.'' Absolutely and there's another phrase in Derren Brown's book where he elaborates on this idea of money, wealth, fame, status, all of this stuff. He says the oldest things are nice but will the Stoic would say as they are preferred indifference, like I prefer to be rich rather than poor but actually fundamentally I'm fairly indifferent to it because it actually doesn't matter. I prefer to be famous the not in some circumstances. But actually if my fame will take away from me overnight, I would be completely fine. It would not affect my tranquility. Partly because I've been doing all these things of premeditated university and doing voluntary discomfort in this imagining situations. I mean, now that I'm somewhat famous on the Internet through the YouTube channel and I've got a reasonable level of wealth through Scotia classes. I often think in that stoic sense of like what would happen if all of this was gone? I actually don't really mind in the slightest, like obviously I prefer to have more money rather than less money. All other things being equal, Ceteris paribus, I think is the Latin phrase for that. All else being equal. That's another one that I quite like. But if all of it will take it away from me, then I still have all of my knowledge. I still have all of the skills that I've learned. I've still got my characters, I still got my friends. There's still so much in my life that can bring the joy attitude, the fact that my joy should be internally generated ideally. I sometimes like doing this exercise where I imagine, yeah, let's say my YouTube channel vanished overnight. What would I do? Interesting. Actually, this is what I do this, I'll do that. I'd I built myself backup in these following ways That's just a way of becoming less attached to the idea of wealth, fame, status or that stuff. It's a preferred indifferent. For the Stoics being too attached to this was a sure fire away to unhappiness. Epictetus and his classic blonde style says, ''Be on your guard against a false sense of self-importance.'' We need to stay home, stay humble. You could lose everything in a day and the thing with that is we simply can't control those aspects. It's so interesting to hear the modern perspective and how again, 2,000 years ago, all this ancient wisdom that we can now still use to this day and apply to our lives. That was some tips for how to deal with money, wealth, status, fame. That stuff as a Stoic. Treat them as preferred indifference because ultimately they're outside of our control. Thank you for watching and we'll see you in the next video. 12. Love and Relationships: Let's talk now about love and relationships and how the Stoics would react to those. How would the Stoics react to love and relationship, Sam? This is a question that I get all the time because of course, if you're talking about only focus on what's within your control, how do you then make yourself vulnerable? There's two things I say in response. One of these quotes, I think teacher says, paraphrasing, when you're kissing your wife or child at night, tell yourself this is immortal. Some people come to me and say, "Wait, you're going to think of the mortality of your child". Are you sick? What's wrong with you? Now, of course, the reason Epictetus is saying this is that we should be grateful for what we have while we have it, becoming overly attached in an unhealthy way where we just couldn't even think about the loss of something would lead to a lot of pain and disturbance and tranquility later in life. Now, of course, bereavement is very, very difficult. What this quote from Epictetus would allow people to do is to have those attachments and be grateful for the time that we have with people whilst we have them. Another question that is put forward is, well, how can the Stoics have meaningful relationships on these guys just a bit distant from people? Seneca says, once you've admitted someone to your friendship, you should be careful who you trust. But once you have admitted someone to your friendship, welcome him heart and soul, and speak as unreservedly with him as you would with yourself. Now, that came to be romantic relationships, that can be friendships in general. But clearly that is advocating openness, love, friendship because a lot of people confuse Stoicism with small letter stoicism, this idea of repression of emotions. That's not the true philosophy of Stoicism. In terms of love, in terms of relationships, friendship, Stoicism absolutely advocates for that. Indeed, Stoicism is the cosmopolitan philosophy which encourages us to help others and like I say, to love and to respect one another. You can love with healthy attachments. That's the Stoic ideal. There's a very nice quote from Happy by Derren Brown again, which is one of my favorite books of all time. When he talks about this idea of love and relationships, he says, we can look at the things and the people we value each day with the knowledge that we will most likely lose them at some point and love them all the more for that. One day your best friend may move away and you may never see each other again. Loved ones may die or become estranged. Your partner, despite your promises to love each other forever, may one day leave you. In fact, it is inevitable through death or choice, your closest relationships will end. He then goes on to say that remembering this invites us to express our feelings to those we love. Now, while we can to never take them for granted and not regret when it's too late that they never knew how important they were to us. Absolutely, and this is a question that I regularly get in relation to romantic relationships. For example, how the Stoic deal with breakup or how can a Stoic maintain a relationship if they're not a 100 percent in that. Of course, the idea is that what this encourages us to do is to actually be grateful for the relationships that we have, and to cherish each day. You're much less likely to want to squabble over meaningless things that we often argue about in relationships, whether that be friendships or romantic relationships, and much more likely to appreciate the times that you have together and those techniques such as journaling and so on. We did encourage you to go back and look at those techniques in relation to this. These techniques like journaling, premeditating a breakup, for example, can provide a really powerful framework for gratitude. Yeah, I think that's really the key thing. Just like gratitude. It's almost the catch-all solution to so many different problems in life. Like if you were just to take a minute to be grateful for the situation, for the stuff that you've got, for the relationships. You realize that when you do that perspective exercise, most things fade away into irrelevance, and actually you can focus on the things that matter, the things that you're grateful for, rather than quibbling about the details. I'll just add, your definition shouldn't kick yourself if you find yourself really worrying about breakup and things. Those things are absolutely natural. The Stoics talk about this idea of Stoic sage, Epictetus said, unlike a patient in a hospital bed advising you, the patient next to me, we're all going to trip up only the Stoic sage, which is a fictional ideal, could perfectly do this all the time. Having that role model helps us to move towards that level of tranquility and happiness. Yeah, definitely, and I think that's an area in which often people get hung up about Stoicism, about any other philosophy, even about religion is that or work up plans diets? The sense of perfectionism, that if I can't embody these ideals 100 percent, then I'm not even going to try, and often one of their responses I get when I talk to people about Stoicism, is that oh, but I can not feel anything when I have a break-up is like and I'm not saying don't feel anything. I'm saying, imagine how the Stoics would do it. You've got these techniques if you want to use them, and you can use them. If you want to experience the negative emotion of a breakup, then sure you absolutely can and no one is stopping you from doing that. But if it gets to the point where it's starting to infringe on your activities of daily living, as we would say in medicine. At that point, you've got the tools you need. You've got the dichotomy of control. You've got the premeditating adversity, you've got the idea of journaling. You've got the perception stuff. You've got all these different techniques that you can use to essentially talk yourself out of experiencing those negative emotions if you don't want to experience them. But I'm not saying at all don't be sad about it. Sometimes it's nice to have a good cry once in awhile. Absolutely. The Stoic certainly don't encourage repression. Indeed, Keito one of the Stoic heroes, is reported to have wailed and cried every time he heard one of his fighters being killed in battle was absolutely not the case that Stoicism advocates repression of tears, of emotions. It's just about using those techniques, essentially this self-care techniques, to then move forward when we can. Because as we said in the last video, you can either accept something or you can resent it, and we're going to be moving on to acceptance later in the course, aren't we? Absolutely, and that brings us to the end of this video about love, relationships, and stuff. Thank you for watching and we'll see you in the next one. 13. Acceptance: All right. Now we come to the end of the class and this video is about acceptance. Last time we talked about when there's a situation, you have a choice, you either accept what's happened or you resent it. You choose to be happy or you choose to be unhappy. My favorite stoic quote is from Epictetus. He says, "When you are alone, you should call this condition tranquility and freedom. When you're with many, you shouldn't call it a crowd, or trouble, or uneasiness, but festival and accept it. " Now, the way that this links to this idea of acceptance is I'm someone who often found myself to be really distracted by loud noises or like buffering. Sometimes I call this one the Netflix principle. You're watching a show and then you're on that dodgy uni Internet. Then it starts buffering and you think, no, let's just give it a second. Still buffering. You refresh it, still happening, still happening. Now, many times, you could find yourself thinking, this is so frustrating. But thing is if we allow that to happen, it's going be a problem for us. An older example was Epictetus always talked about the Olympics. He always used to say, you're not going to go to the stadium and then be devastated that someone's barge into you when you've gone through a really built up area. You're always going to be unhappy if that's the way that you think about things. When you're preparing to go out. Say to yourself, "I'm going to a festival." Therefore you've expected big crowds. You've got that mentality. Matt Van Natta of the Good Fortune Podcast actually encourages us to say the word festival when you're faced by these situations. So literally, I say to myself, festival, and I think, I don't really care about that loud noise outside now, even if that was affecting filming. So that's the co-principal around, the larger idea is this thing of acceptance. If you except the things outside of your control, as we said in first episode on the Dichotomy of Control, that's the path to happiness from a stoic perspective. Absolutely. It goes with this idea of the serenity prayer, which is the thing in Christianity which is, "God grant me the serenity to accept that which I cannot change, the courage to change what I can and the wisdom to know the difference." That's like really big about just accepting things the way they are if you can't do anything about them, the Dichotomy of Control. Actually, again, referencing Happy by Derren Brown, the tagline of the book is, "Why more or less everything is absolutely fine." That's the title of the book. More or less, everything is absolutely fine. a point that he makes throughout this whole book, which is all based on the teachings of stoicism, is that if someone is mean to us or someone angers us, if we get a hater, if something doesn't go bad, if we lose our arm, if we lose our leg, whatever, we accept it because it is what it is, if we can't change it, then we just accept it, and that's absolutely fine. I think once we give ourselves permission to accept things the way they are, everything in life becomes infinitely more tranquil. Occasionally, I talk about this and I get push back from people, will be like, yeah, but how can you just accept that? Why would you just accept that? My answer is that it doesn't make sense to me because why wouldn't you accept it? If something has happened and you physically can't change it and you can't go back in time to change it, the only option, the only feasible option you have, is to accept it, either that, or as Epictetus says, you can resent it and you can curl up in a ball and cry. There's nothing wrong with that. But at some point, you do have to come around to accepting it. Again, in Happy by Derren Brown, he talks about how people often use extreme examples. What about things like child abuse? Do you expect me to really just accept that and get over it? He says that, what other option do you have? Even in absolutely horrific instances like child abuse where people have got post-traumatic stress, going way into their life, eventually, when they go for cognitive behavioral therapy, and eventually using these tools, the thing that lets the move past that is to accept the events of the past rather than resent it, to accept that, I can't change what happened, but what I can change is my response to it in the future. That's ultimately all acceptance is. That's probably the fundamental part of stoicism and you can apply this idea of acceptance to almost every domain of life. I think that the difficulty of the task is illustrated by the fact that Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor, the book that we have of his, it's literally his journal writing to himself. This was a daily task. This isn't an easy thing in order to try and aim for this. It's not easy at all, but it's something that we can all work towards. Marcus Aurelius spent every day writing to himself. I would really recommend How to Think like a Roman Emperor by Donald Robison. He talks here about the in-depth process that Marcus Aurelius went through. He literally sat down and would write to himself, he would be journaling in the way we've talked about, thinking about the dichotomy of control, using all those other methods. This is something that everyone is aiming towards. None of us are a perfect sage. But Stoics, of course, the path is the path of acceptance because we can either accept the things that happened or we can resent it. I remember a time in my life, this was in my first year of being a doctor and it was fairly early on where I was involved in a really difficult cardiac arrest situation and the patient ended up dying. For ages afterwards, for like weeks, I found myself replaying the series of events in my mind, asking myself, is there anything I could've done differently? Reliving those moments. I found that the whole acceptance thing and stoicism really helped that, because ultimately what I realized is that, what's the stuff within my control? My own thoughts and my own actions. What can I learn from this experience? What can I do differently next time? That changed the way that I did a few things for next time. It made me very keen to go on the advanced life support course, which is this intensive simulation type thing that helps you to deal with emergency situations. Beyond that, I realized that I now have to accept things the way they are. I can't go back in time and change how I behaved because of all the various factors and I didn't know various things at the time. I know them now, I've learned from the experience, and now I can accept it the way it is. I still think about it occasionally, that day when those bad things happened. But I think it was the fact that I'd been into stoicism that really allowed me to move past i, without letting it affect my tranquility very much at all. But not going to lie, it did affect me for like a week or two because I'm not a stoic sage. We all have these moments where our tranquility is going to be disturbed. But the point is, it's like if you're following a diet or following a workout plan, and one day, you eat a burger or one day, you miss a workout. The fact that you've missed that workout doesn't actually matter. What matters is that you go back to baseline and you continue your workouts from tomorrow. But if you miss that workout and you treat it as a, I've missed my workout. I suck, life sucks. I might as well kill myself, whatever. You missed that workout, and then it spirals out of control, that is when the problem happens. Equally, for me in that situation, yes, my tranquility was disturbed because I'm not a stoic sage. But I went back to baseline fairly quickly once I took the lessons from that event because fixating on it and resenting it wasn't going to help anyone or anything at that point. Absolutely. I think all the methods that we've spoken about culminate in this fundamental idea of acceptance of those elements, of situations that are outside of our control, and a focus on what's within our control. Thank you very much for watching and we'll see you in the final video where we wrap up the key concepts in this class. 14. Final Thoughts: Thank you very much for watching this class about how to apply Stoicism to our daily life. We have talked about the five fundamental principles of Stoicism, or the five of the fundamental principles. There's still a lot more ground to explore, but you can read more about that yourself. We talked about five instances in day-to-day life in which we can apply the Stoic ideals to our lives to make ourselves as tranquil as possible. You've got concrete techniques to take away and get started with today through the class projects and you've also got the scenarios in which these techniques can be used. Absolutely. So have a look at the class project section. There'll be like a load of worksheets that you can use for journaling prompts, that sort of stuff, and also links to external resources. A book that I particularly recommend is Happy by Derren Brown and William Irvine, A Guide to the Good Life. If you want an introduction to Stoicism, you've got some as well. I've got some recommendation. My secondary source, the one that changed my life was Donald Robertson's, Stoicism and the Art of Happiness as a secondary source and then in terms of the primary sources, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, the letters of Seneca, and The Enchiridion of Epictetus of the three authors upon which everything that I talk about is grounded. Absolutely, we'll link those down below and also follow Sam's Instagram page, the Stoic Teacher for daily Stoicism quotes and reminders. Thank you very much for watching. Please to be sure to follow my Skillshare page if you haven't hit the "Follow" button already, to be updated when we release a new class. You can check out loads more classes that I've got on Skillshare about productivity and studying and happiness and all this cool stuff. Be sure to come along to the Stoic Teacher YouTube channel, at @stoicteacher on Instagram for some ancient wisdom for modern times, daily quotes, weekly videos. It would be great to have you. Wonderful. Do please leave a rating on this class if you haven't already. Please make it good because then more people can find it. Thanks for watching and we'll see you next time. Bye. Bye, now. 15. BONUS Stoic Weightloss Journey: What we've got? Well, I've got some chips. Five guys on a caloric deficit. Going for the Cajun fries, which I used to pronounce Cajun. That's very much not in a calorie deficit, is it? Cajun. How is it pronounced? Cajun. Cajun apparently. C-A-J-O-N, Cajun. What's number two on the receipt? Was that what the number means? Yes mate. Sandwich two, lettuce-wrapped. Calorie deficit. That's yours? Yes. Do you know my favorite YouTuber right now? Apart from [inaudible]? Apart from [inaudible] , of course. Who's your favorite YouTuber? Jordan Syatt. Have you heard of him? Yes, I have. He was [inaudible] personal trainer. Why don't you get some small [inaudible]. He's in my DMs. Is he? I was going to say, I really want to look because stoic weight loss journey, he's my inspiration. Yeah. He's the one that helped me realize that the reason I got to 23 stones is probably binge-eating. Yeah. What, like this? No, because I'm eating a lettuce-wrapped burger. Is that a thing? Do you know what he did? He ate a Big Mac every day for 30 days whilst losing eight pounds or something. Anyway, stoicism is some weight loss journey. Yeah. What was the deal? He says anything apart that. Because you were really fat. Yes, I was. How does that feel to be so fat? It was crazy. Because you didn't act as if you cared, at least not outwardly. Yeah. Do you know what is? I know I got loads of ketchup on my face. I got sensitized to it, because I grew up fat. Every year up to the age of 15 and then afterwards, I'm trying to explain, essentially when I was 10, I weighed 10 stone. When I was 11, I weighed 11 stone, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. We've got the idea. Yeah. Then in my gap year before starting uni, I was like no, and so I lost four stone. So then I started uni about 14 stone, and then I was rowing and stuff at Girton, and I ended up guys in my college, and I ended up just getting really lean. Well, not really lean, but as fit as fit as I've ever been. Then uni happened and Cambridge is stressful, and bereavement of friends and things like that. So I ended up stopping exercise, I wasn't really watching my nutrition. The weight loss before had never really had any underpinning other than I really don't want to be fat anymore. Because growing up, it was always, listen, literally every day of my life, someone called me fat or they made a racist comment about me. Really? Yeah. Obviously I grew up in Cambridge. Not everyone was racist, but it was around the time of 9/11 happening. Yeah, when racism was still acceptable. I started year 7 in 2002, which means that 9/11 had just happened and there were these kind of jokes oh like, "Oh, you're a terrorist." Both the fat thing and the racism thing, it just desensitized me and made me numb to being that way, and I think it made me dislike myself but not consciously. Anyway, the bereavement and stuff happened and the uni stress happened and I ended up putting on weight. I graduated and then moved to London and had a great job, which I love, but lots of work, and my weight just ended up ballooning and ended up in 23 stone, which is like morbidly obese. Then all the weight loss that had happened before was all the fad, I really just want to look better aesthetically. Then I came across voluntary discomfort. Donald Robertson's the Stoicism and the Art of Happiness, I've got a few people on Instagram now messaging me saying, "What's your recommendation for the book?" Don't go straight for the primary text. I know a lot of people will try and slaughter me for this, but I would say Donald Robertson's Stoicism and the Art of Happiness is the best source for just basic theory, grounded in quotes and stuff before you then go on to the primary material. I know you like Irvine as all, that's a really good book. I like Irvine. Of course. I read like Happy by [inaudible] , and of course this course, this class. This course is great for the intro of course. But reading that, the ideas of voluntary discomfort, but also checking what was my motivation for losing weight? Was it just aesthetic? That was the issue. Checking me on what my values were and helping me to understand some of the pain. What was your motivation for losing weight? When I lost weight before uni and stuff, it was aesthetic. It was just like, I don't want people to call me fat anymore. Were people calling you fat at uni? Surely not. It's funny because there were a few comments but I can literally remember every single one. They say you focus more on the negatives than the positive, because I was scarred from it when I was younger, I remember every little comment. Do you know what was the most damaging one? There was one where I had actually lost weight already, and people used to say to me, "Why have you got a weighing scale? You're fit, you're muscular." The guy at the gym even said to me that, "Oh, you don't need an induction. You clearly are very fit," this, that. That was so weird to me because I just didn't view myself as that. This was when you were fat? No. When I lost weight in my gap year, there was the initial weight loss where I was fairly fit, I was rowing and stuff. Yeah. I couldn't believe it because I just had so many years of being called fat, I couldn't shake this idea that I was still fat, but then people saying that really, really helped, but clearly, external approval was too high on my list. I remember one time we did this, you know the Man Versus Food YouTube guy? No. Two of my friends at Girton did something like Man Versus Food challenge where they had some big loaf of bread that they carved out and then filled it with bacon and whatever, and then there was this version that didn't have pork and stuff that I could eat, and they filled it with all this stuff and I was going to have a whole half. I remember saying, "Oh, I'm going to eat this whole half," and this one guy said like "Oh, yeah. You look like you could eat a whole half," and did that. My brain immediately it was just like," You were right, you are still fat." All this stuff there. It set me down a bad path, and this is why stoics say, if you worry about what other people are saying and about things outside of your control, then you're basically at their win. What are your thoughts on external validation in general? This is the thing. I feel like I was someone who really valued those things. That's why instead of speaking out when people were being mean to me, I will just laugh along because they were friends, and I wanted to not really rock the boat as a kid. But stoicism of course showed me, it checked my values. This is why I say this it's sticky, and it gives you that underpinning that some of these motivation stuff won't. I feel like it's just a way to unhappiness till I care about it. You almost fell. Ali's like unbalanced chair for stabilizing your core. Along the journey, what stoic principles helped you along? Main main one, voluntary discomfort. I started viewing, rather than being motivated by I want to look a certain way, I was basically motivated by I want difficult things. It would be easy to sit here and just emotionally eat, order delivery, desserts and whatever. It was how it was, bro. It was so bad at one point. I'm laughing because this what we've done. No. It's a lettuce-wrapped burger. What was the question? What stoic principles helped you along the way? Voluntary discomfort helped because it changed it from I want to look a certain way to I actually want difficult stuff. I don't want to take the easy way. The Dichotomy of Control. You control what you think and what you do. Yeah. Also, it meant to me that rather than worrying about what other people thought of me, it wasn't, I want to lose weight because I want people to not view me as fat anymore, it was now about what's in my control. My mom's diabetic, she's got a heart condition. I want to be there with her. I want to improve my health and live longer rather than be morbidly obese. It changed my fundamental values to just be what's within my control. The other thing which is in the course as well is the idea of wealth and status. It's not really fashionable to say, but I think if I'm completely honest, I used to be driven by that. I think part of that came from having a bit of a chip on my shoulder because I grew up in a poor family. I was one of very few people at Cambridge with us to have been on free school meals. I think the stat was one in 2000 or something. Seeing all these people around me, I very much had this thing of like, "Yeah, I'm here, it's a great opportunity, I'm going to achieve loads and get status and get money." Then stoicism helped me realize that that was really a hollow goal. It wouldn't lead to anything. I'd get money and then what? That's the question you'd have to ask yourself. So I think the biggest thing has to be the fundamental value shift through the Dichotomy of Control in terms of not valuing things outside my control status, wealth. That can just get taken away from you. You remember Bitcoin? Yeah. We bought in at high. I don't check my coin base anymore. In 2017, I think I lost about 35k during the Bitcoin crash. That's an annual salary. Yeah, I guess it was. It didn't really affect him in the slightest. Partly that's because I'd only put in money that I could afford to lose, and so there was that sensible side of it. It's all right for some. But I think another big part of it was just appreciating the stoicism thing, but, yeah, all right, it happened, it's out of my control now. All right, let's move on, let's make this Skillshare class to try and make that money back, am I right? No. No more [inaudible] for me. But yeah, so, I don't know after stoicism helped me to lose all that weight, it's been like 10 stone over the last three years since 2017. The first six months was like eight stone or something. But then I was really worried about the loose skin here. So I guess that's what I'm going to be documenting in a stoic weight loss journey. What is the stoic weight loss journey? I mean, this is going to a be part of it, or parts of it. Just talking about where I was, the fundamental shift, because like Jordan Syatt who I was talking about, amazing YouTuber Gary Vee's personal trainer. He talks about how the fitness industry is all based on, I don't know, it just all this stuff that the stoics would argue against. Oh, yeah, get your beach board for all the girls and all this stuff. He's talking about sustainable weight loss. No, it's not about having some kind of cycle of, "Oh, I'm going to work out, so if I'm not good for July and August and then I'll, be a slob and then it will just encourage binge-eating, cycling, yoyoing like I used to. Essentially the weight loss journey is to maybe hopefully help people and to give a philosophical underpinning to everyday things. That's what we do in the course, right? So I want people to understand how powerful this can be. This is sticky compared to those fad diets you see like, "Oh, just cut out carbs completely." Or 30-day plan and there's some picture of some massive blokes. That's not happening in 30 days. Yeah. I honestly think a stoic and philosophical underpinning to basically anything in society would be a beneficial thing. I particularly think for me, just obviously, weight-loss, and fitness is something that's very close to my heart now. I've been through all the fads. Honestly, every single fad and keto is great. All these different methods are great. But what it is, it's offered. Don't do it because otherwise you'll just rebound. Well, exactly. Often it's marketed as carbs are the devil. You must not do this and whatever, whereas it needs to be like, "Why do you want a rapid weight loss?" You do it in two months and then what? Why not do it in a healthy, sustainable way? Keto was just something I would stick to. Yes, for me as well. I was keto for a long time. I've tried all the different methods you see, so I feel like I'm in a position where because there's a lot of fitness trainers who have never been overweight. So for me it's just like I'm coming from a position of being a philosophy scholar and a teacher of religious studies and philosophy that just happened to be able to lose loads weight and improve my life through this philosophy. I feel like it will just benefit lots of people. Motivational YouTube videos about weight loss really helped me. Oh really? Yeah. But they're not as sticky, in my view, as what stoic philosophy helped me do. Because I feel like it's not really a link that's been made so far in this stuff, right? We're making that link between stoicism and productivity, but for me, in terms of fitness and weight loss I don't think that's been done, and for me, that was such a powerful thing. It really reinforces what you can control versus [inaudible] when you lose weight. For me literally the only reason I started losing so much weight is because I wanted to be able to wear nice clothes when I started as an F1. I do not like the way I look in the clothes that I want to wear, so I'm just going to lose weight. Yeah, no. I mean, this is the thing. It builds up your confidence and that's the longer term. When I start to gain weight, I feel my confidence start to or the way that I behave is slightly different because you notice how people treat you differently. Yeah, for me, I tried to move away from doing it for like other people because it can lead to problematic things. Because essentially one bloke still makes a negative comment. It's not for other people and I don't really care if someone makes those comments. But it's more that I figured out that my life is just easier this way and then [inaudible] my control, right? Yeah. Yeah, so I mean, fundamentally, I just think that if I can help anyone that was in my position because I think I was in a position where my life was at risk. I don't know. You are a doctor, you can probably tell me. Was it? Yeah. Yeah. Like when the pandemic came around, I realized that if my BMI was still what it was in 2017, June. Oh my days. I would have had to shield. It was the maddest thing. It's just basically the bigger you are, the more likely you were to [inaudible]. Two people, exact same blood test results, exact same comorbidities and everything, the bigger one will die. That's the thing. So the goal of the stoic weight loss journey is if it can help even one person who's in that position, give them as a way to actually stick to it and change their lives in the way that it did for me, I'll be happy. As someone who's never been fat, how do you feel about this? About people being fat? Yeah, and how it relates to the stoicism, not just around [inaudible] people. So I think as someone who's never been fat, it's really hard to relate to why people are fat. It was tough. I guess like for someone who's never been depressed, it's really hard to relate to what depression actually is, and when people say that they have this cloud of blackness around them, they literally can't get out of bed. It's so hard to relate to that because you just think, well, just do it. So I think there's like a deficit and understanding that. That is not flattering. That one. That is literally what I tell people to do if they're feeling ugly is do that in the mirror and then let your nose go and just see your face look 100 times better. I just wiped ketchup on my forehead. I don't know why I did that. You're going to look like you're bleeding in the photo. It's like look how stoic I am, bleeding and I'm just carrying on. I mean, I just think it's very important for people to move away from the aesthetic motivation to just thinking about health. Health and stuff. I don't know. I don't thinking about [inaudible] my confidence. Fair enough. But one of the biggest things is just not welcoming discomfort. I feel like that's a hack for pretty much anything. Yeah. The dopamine fast as they say. Dopamine fast? Yeah. Where you kind of deprive yourself of dopamine hits [inaudible] period of time and then you reset your base point and then you can do more uncomfortable things. This is a real fad right now amongst all these productivity guides. As medics is that stuff legit because I've heard some articles that are like this is [inaudible]. I don't know. If it works for people, then it's a mental model and it works. I feel like people think we know a lot more. Yeah, as medics. Junk science. Is dopamine fasting a thing? I don't know. Google it. I feel like you guys know everything. What should I eat before the gym? The amount of times that I've got a Google stuff at work. Someone would phone up and be like, is it normal to bleed after a hysterectomy? Be like, yes, for four to six weeks. Thank you. Very much inspires confidence. No. Even things that we know, now that we have access to Google, why not just double-check. What benefit is it to you if I incorrectly remember something I read once in a book in first year? This is why Plato laments the creating of writing. Talks about how we just don't rely on our brains anymore. He said it like thousands of years ago and then now we're in a generation where literally you don't need to remember anything. I can still quote page references from Grey's Anatomy [inaudible]. Our brain is for having ideas, not for storing them. Building a second, use my affiliate link. Link is in the video description. Oh, God. Yeah. I'm doing like live mental sessions for those every Tuesday for the next few weeks. Nice. So people get to join in and help me build, let them build a second brain or something like that. Let me help them build a second brain. How does it work? I can't take that second brain with me into my [inaudible] exam. No, you can't. Which is why medicine is our data and that is reliant on our first brain. Yes, I agree. Yeah. Having ideas, not storing them. See, this course is happening because of the second brain. Because you've made so many notes a notion and you've just been churning out daily stoic quotes for the last 180 days. Consistency. Consistency. All right, that's the end of our little mukbang episode. I hope you guys enjoyed this bonus. Look, at Sam's stoic weight loss journey. Your esophagi. Esophagi. They need to subscribe on YouTube for the stoic weight loss journey. Subscribe to his channel on YouTube for the stoic weight loss journey. The Stoic Teacher. See you guys there.