#22: Discipline of Surrender, Hubermans' Morning Journal, and the S.A.F.E Formula

PLUS: Marcus Aurelius guides a young hedonist

Welcome, Stoics.

Dive into a world where Stoic wisdom meets modern insights, featuring a unique meditation chart, and an inspiring conversation between David Goggins and Andrew Huberman.

This newsletter also offers practical techniques for journaling, insights into addiction, and a skeptical look at self-help, all aimed at enhancing your journey toward self-improvement.

In today’s Nous:

  • 💡 Enlightening Meditation: Decoding the Stages in 'The Mind Illuminated'

  • 🏃‍♂️ Inspiring Dialogue: David Goggins' Disciplined Approach Meets Neuroscience

  • 🗡️ Inner Growth: Exploring Self-Mastery with Eric Brown

  • 🤖 Philosophical Fiction: Marcus Aurelius Counsels a Young Hedonist

  • 🛑 Deep Reflection: Understanding Addictions Through the S.A.F.E Formula

Read time: 6 minutes

New Year 40% Off Sale

🎧 Full Access to Meditation Course Library

It's a time of renewal, aspirations, and setting meaningful goals. The New Year offers a chance for lasting fulfillment and wisdom.

Reflect on the past year with joy and introspection. Look forward with optimism and a plan for a rewarding year.

Stoicism can be your guide in these new beginnings. Imagine a year where you connect with loved ones, tackle challenges with calm, achieve wise and fulfilling goals, master your emotions, build enriching relationships, and deepen your appreciation for life.

This offer includes a no-cost trial period. Begin exploring our premium Stoic lessons today.

Wishing you a year of growth, happiness, and wisdom. Looking forward to our journey together in the New Year.

Editor’s Picks

🏹 Stoic Wisdom Arrows

💡 Mind Illuminated Meditation Chart. In his meditation book, "The Mind Illuminated," John Yates emphasizes the importance of being aware of the various stages, goals, and obstacles in meditation in order to make progress. Interestingly, someone has taken the initiative to decode and compile all of these stages and goals into a Google Sheet, which I found to be truly impressive.

🏃‍♂️ David Goggins and Andrew Huberman. Two distinct types of individuals, yet sharing many similarities, primarily the aspiration to acquire knowledge and improve. Goggins stands out as one of the most disciplined and hardcore individuals globally, and in this conversation, Andrew Huberman incorporates some of Goggins' teachings and supplements them with a neuroscience rationale. I listened to this as I was doing VO2 Max training, and it provided plenty of inspiration.

🗡️ Self-Mastery and the Discipline of Surrender with Eric Brown: In this episode, I talk with Eric Brown in a conversation that spans a wide range of topics, including personal growth, self-mastery, honesty in relationships, the discipline of surrender, and the power of reading and journaling. Watch here.

Technique Try-Out

🧰 Simple Evidence-Based Morning Journal

I wanted to share with you a journaling process I've been using lately. I'm really enjoying it. I find that it covers a lot and takes barely more than 5 minutes to complete, which reduces friction and increases the likelihood of forming a habit.

I enjoy journalling with ChatGPT as it the app makes the journal process more interactive. Here is the prompt I use with ChatGPT:

Turn this prompt from Huberman into a journal template that I can fill out here in this chat. Whenever I write “go” in a standalone message, I want you to ask me to follow the instructions and write answers. You are going to be my dynamic guided journal template. Understood?

Sidenote: I’m creating an extensive Stoic program that leverages AI technology at the moment. I’ll keep you posted.

New Ways of Seeing

🤖 Marcus Aurelius Guides a Young Hedonist

Marcus Aurelius: Young man, I see your pursuit is driven by an unquenchable thirst for pleasure, particularly in the company of women. But tell me, have you considered the ephemeral nature of these pleasures?

Young Man: Marcus, life is short. Why not enjoy all the pleasures it offers? I love the thrill of new encounters and the excitement of the night.

Marcus Aurelius: Pleasures, when pursued as ends in themselves, lead to a never-ending cycle of desire and disappointment. As the emperor, I too could indulge in such fleeting joys, yet I choose a path of restraint and virtue.

Young Man: But why restrain yourself when you have the power to have it all?

Marcus Aurelius: True power lies not in succumbing to every desire, but in mastering them. Pleasures are like waves in the ocean; they come and go. But inner peace and virtue are lasting.

Young Man: But isn't life about experiencing all it has to offer?

Marcus Aurelius: It is about experiencing it wisely. To chase pleasure without discernment is to be a slave to your desires. Ask yourself, what do these pursuits add to your character, to your growth?

Young Man: I never thought about it that way. It's just fun.

Marcus Aurelius: Fun is fleeting. Look deeper and find what truly fulfills you. Let your actions not be guided by immediate pleasure but by the enduring pursuit of wisdom and virtue.

Young Man: It seems I have much to learn. Maybe there's more to life than just fleeting joys.

Marcus Aurelius: Indeed, there is. Seek what is lasting and noble. In that pursuit, you will find a joy deeper than any momentary pleasure.

Turning Theory Into Skill

🛑 Are You S.A.F.E in Your Addictions?

I am currently reading a book called "Sex Addiction 101" by Robert Weiss, and it's a fascinating read that provides valuable insights into addictions and the realm of sex in general. It is evident that there is currently an obesity epidemic, which can be attributed to the proximity and abundance of food options.

However, what if obesity could be concealed? Would we still be aware of its existence? In many ways, sex addiction or pornography addiction can be disguised or kept hidden, potentially leading to another epidemic that causes significant harm to individuals. This is exacerbated by the fact that discussing it can be more shameful and easier to conceal.

In the book, I found the S.A.F.E. formula for addictions particularly interesting. The S.A.F.E. formula is a conceptual framework aimed at understanding and defining sexual addiction. Let's examine each component of the formula and delve into some reflection questions.


This aspect refers to the secretive nature of the behavior. When actions are hidden and cannot withstand public scrutiny, it often leads to a sense of shame and the maintenance of a double life. Secrecy in this context fuels the cycle of addiction by creating a barrier to honesty and openness.


This element highlights the potential for the behavior to be harmful either to oneself or to others. It encompasses actions that are exploitative, harmful, or degrading. The abusive nature of the behavior aligns with the destructive patterns seen in addiction.


This part of the formula addresses the emotional aspect of the behavior. It's about using sexual activity to escape or avoid painful feelings, or finding that such activities lead to significant mood shifts. This reliance on an external source for emotional regulation is indicative of addictive processes.


This component speaks to the lack of a caring, committed relationship in the context of sexual behavior. The emptiness reflects a disconnection from healthy, meaningful relational dynamics, which is often a hallmark of addiction.

The overarching theme of the S.A.F.E. formula is the unhealthy dimension of human relationships in the context of addiction. The formula suggests that recovery involves moving towards healthier, more open, and committed relational experiences.

Reflection Questions:

  • Secret: How does secrecy in your behaviors affect your relationships with others and yourself? What might change if you were more open about your struggles?

  • Abusive: In what ways have your behaviors been harmful to yourself or others? How do you reconcile these actions with your values and beliefs about respect and dignity?

  • Feelings: Can you identify instances where you have used sexual behavior to regulate your emotions? What healthier coping mechanisms might you develop to deal with painful feelings?

  • Empty: Reflect on the quality of your relationships. How does your sexual behavior impact your ability to form deep, caring connections? What does a committed, healthy relationship look like to you?

  • Overall Reflection: Considering the S.A.F.E. formula as a whole, how do you see your behaviors aligning with or diverging from these characteristics? What steps can you take towards recovery and forming healthier relationships?

Tech Tool I Use

📆 The Skeptic’s Guide to Self-Help

Explode self-help myths and discover a more nuanced and mature approach to self-improvement.

To go along with my 40% New Year Sale for Stoic Handbook Premium, I’m releasing my course The Skeptic’s Guide to Self Help on the platform.

The lessons included:

  1. On Success

  2. On Reading Self-Improvement Books

  3. On Negative Thinking

  4. On Procrastination

  5. On Following Your Passions

  6. On Emotions

You can access these for free right now with a free trial, and if you stick around afterward you’ll get 40% off forever.

Off The Troden Path

📆 Self-Improvement To-Do List

  Watch: I rarely watch anime shows, but when I heard George R.R. Martin recommend the Netflix show Blue Eye Samurai, I had to check it out. And wow, it’s fantastic.

Mediate: Try this Stoic-guided meditation to increase your self-confidence. This is a great exercise to help you start believing that you can do what you intend to—an obvious but difficult first step.

The Complete List: One of the things I’ve done for this year, instead of looking to new horizons and wanting to do all these “new things,” I’m instead asking the question: What have I started but not finished? What are the obvious and low-hanging fruit for me to pick? This is what I want this year to be about. Perhaps you could create a similar list.

All Things End

🔥 Friend of Wisdom

Thank you for joining me in this issue of The Nous. Feel free to reply and share your thoughts. I read all the comments!

Periodically, I will send a round-up of the best content for easy navigation. Rest assured, you'll still receive in-depth Stoic breakdown posts and the content you cherish.

Looking to support The Nous and educate others on Stoicism?

Simply forward this post to a friend.

Thank you for reading. As Stoics, we understand that the future is uncertain, so let's say, "I will be in touch soon, fate permitting!"