#17: Biden vs. Socrates, Power of Role Models, and the 3 Lords of Materialism

PLUS: The Limits of Modern Stoicism

Welcome, Stoics.

Uncover transformative Stoic lessons, and reflect on virtues with Marcus Aurelius.

Join a fictional yet insightful dialogue between Socrates and Joe Biden.

In today’s Nous

  • 🛑 Limits of Stoicism: Exploring the Limits of Modern Stoicism and Strategies for Success

  • 🦸‍♀️ Power of Role Models: Cultivating Virtue Through Role Model Reflection

  • 🤖 Biden vs. Socrates: A Socratic Dialogue with Joe Biden on Leadership and Democracy

Read time: 10 minutes

Editor’s Picks

🏹 Stoic Wisdom Arrows

🛑 Limits of Modern Stoicism: In this lesson, I explore the three limits of modern Stoicism: trauma healing, mindfulness, and ecstatic experiences. Listen here.

🧘 The Gameplan for Overcoming Distractions: Eric Brown and I explore the transformative six-step preparation process that not only enhances meditation practices but also extends its benefits into the very fabric of our daily existence. Listen here.

🧮 The Stoic Success Formula: This podcast features a live workshop I created all about how to approach success. In it, we venture into the ancient yet ever-relevant world of Stoicism to explore a unique and profound perspective on how to get what we “choose” with wisdom. Listen here. 

Technique Try-Out

🧰 Embracing Virtue through Role Models

When you wish to delight yourself, think of the virtues of those who live with you; for instance, the activity of one, the modesty of another, the liberality of a third, and some other good quality of a fourth. For nothing delights so much as the examples of the virtues when they are exhibited in the morals of those who live with us and present themselves in abundance, as far as is possible. Hence we must keep them before us. 

Marcus Aurelius - Meditations VI.48

Marcus Aurelius, in his Meditations, extols the value of reflecting on the virtues of those around us. This exercise, inspired by his wisdom, is designed to help you cultivate and embody the virtues you admire in others, fostering a deeper connection with your own potential for excellence.

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Identify Your Role Models:

    • Consider the people in your life or historical figures whose virtues inspire you. These could be colleagues, family members, or renowned personalities.

    • Choose individuals who exemplify specific virtues, such as generosity, courage, patience, or integrity.

  2. Document Their Virtues:

    • Create a list or journal entry detailing the virtues of each role model.

    • Describe specific instances where they demonstrated these virtues in action.

  3. Reflect and Internalize:

    • Spend a few moments each day reflecting on these virtues.

    • Visualize how your role models would act in challenging situations, especially those you are currently facing.

  4. Daily Virtue Practice:

    • Each day, focus on one virtue from your list.

    • Make a conscious effort to embody this virtue in your actions and decisions throughout the day.

  5. Overcoming Cynicism:

    • Remember that acknowledging the good in others lessens cynicism.

    • Recognize that everyone has flaws, but focusing on their virtues can inspire personal growth.

  6. Integrate and Adapt:

    • Consider the methods your role models use to cultivate their virtues.

    • Adapt these strategies to fit your own life and circumstances.

  7. Reflect on Your Progress:

    • At the end of each week, reflect on how focusing on these virtues has influenced your behavior and mindset.

    • Note any changes or improvements in your interactions and personal well-being.

Through this practice, you not only honor the virtues of your role models but also integrate these qualities into your own life. It's a powerful method to transform admiration into personal development, aligning you closer to the Stoic ideal of living a virtuous and purposeful life.

Remember, as Marcus Aurelius suggests, the excellence you seek is attainable. By emulating the virtues of those you admire, you step closer to becoming the best version of yourself. Start this practice today, and embark on a journey of continuous self-improvement and personal enlightenment.


🧰 Seneca’s Stoic Toolbox for Anger Management

My most recent course upload to Stoic Handbook Premium is Seneca’s Stoic Toolbox for Anger Management.

This 18-day journey promises to reshape your understanding of and reaction to anger using ancient Stoic principles.

What You'll Discover:

  1. Seneca's Toolbox: Dive into Seneca's "On Anger" and learn to manage daily irritations with grace.

  2. The True Nature of Anger: Understand why anger is a barrier to your potential and how to overcome it.

  3. Tranquility as a Goal: Focus on achieving inner calmness, regardless of external chaos.

  4. The Influence of Friendship: Select friends who contribute to your peace and virtue.

  5. Art as Therapy: Use art and music to soothe and master your emotions.

  6. Early Detection: Identify and manage anger triggers before they escalate.

  7. Curbing Harmful Curiosity: Avoid information that fuels negativity.

  8. Releasing the Pain-Body: Learn to find calmness instead of provoking anger.

  9. Empathy and Understanding: See the humanity in those who anger you.

  10. The Power of Patience: Develop patience to respond thoughtfully to conflict.

  11. Battling Anger Internally: Use cognitive techniques to control your anger.

  12. Learning from Anger Histories: Study others’ anger management to enhance your own.

  13. Compassion Training: Balance tolerance with self-respect.

  14. Healing vs. Revenge: Choose constructive responses over retaliation.

  15. Anger Appreciation Alchemy: Turn anger into gratitude.

  16. Independence from Externals: Reduce overreactions to minor irritations.

  17. Daily Introspection: Strengthen your mind through reflective practices.

  18. The Anger Toolkit Recap: A comprehensive summary of the strategies.


An exceptional course. Short segments packed with useful information and tools to truly make a difference in your life.

Absolutely loved the course. Very insightful, illuminating and full of practical advice to manage anger. The delivery and ability to distill Seneca’s words into bite sized chunks of helpful information was amazing.

I love the way you keep it simple great breakdown of the teachings, good daily practice. I will use this in an again on the course three times starting my fourth.

Start your journey towards mastering anger with a Free Trial of my premium podcast feed. Discover how Stoicism can empower you to lead a more peaceful, fulfilling life.

New Ways of Seeing

🤖 Socrates vs. Joe Bidden

Last week I published a fictional dialogue between Socrates and Donald Trump. Some readers loved it, some found it amusing, and one reader pointed out that we should also hear Socrates speak to Bidden to.

Setting: The sun sets over the ancient city of Athens. Socrates encounters Joe Biden, a man out of time, near the steps of the Parthenon.

Socrates: Welcome, traveler from the future. They call you Joe Biden. Is it true that you lead a great republic across the sea?

Joe Biden: Yes, I'm the President of the United States of America.

Socrates: A president, fascinating! Tell me, Joe, in your time, what is considered the highest virtue for a leader?

Joe Biden: I would say integrity and wisdom.

Socrates: Integrity and wisdom... noble virtues indeed. But tell me, how does a leader in your time ensure he remains true to these virtues amidst the allure of power and influence?

Joe Biden: We rely on checks and balances in our system, and the democratic process itself to keep us true.

Socrates: Ah, but can the masses always discern the true path of virtue? Are they not often swayed by rhetoric and spectacle?

Joe Biden: That can be true. But we believe in the collective wisdom of the people.

Socrates: Collective wisdom... a curious concept. How do you reconcile the wisdom of the many with the ignorance that also pervades the masses?

Joe Biden: It's about finding a balance, listening, and leading towards what's right.

Socrates: And who decides what's right? Is it not subject to personal biases and the influence of the powerful?

Joe Biden: Ideally, it's a decision made through informed debate and democratic processes.

Socrates: You speak of democracy and debate, yet history often shows that the majority can be misguided. How do you navigate this paradox in your leadership?

Joe Biden: By staying informed, being open to different perspectives, and making the best decision possible at the moment.

Socrates: But what of consistency? Can a leader afford to change perspectives without being seen as unprincipled or unreliable?

Joe Biden: It's a challenge. Consistency is important, but so is adaptability.

Socrates: It seems your task is akin to sailing a turbulent sea, constantly adjusting your course. How do you maintain your course without losing sight of your destination, the good of your people?

Joe Biden: It requires constant vigilance, humility, and the willingness to admit and learn from mistakes.

Socrates: Admitting mistakes... a rare quality in a leader. Yet, how do you ensure your mistakes do not lead your people astray?

Joe Biden: Through collective wisdom and the strength of our democratic institutions.

Socrates: You place much faith in these institutions and the collective. I wonder, Joe of America, if the wisdom of the many can indeed outweigh the follies of the few. Your journey and leadership are a riddle, much like the enigmas we ponder here in Athens.

Turning Theory Into Skill

🧘 3 Lords of Materialism

I've recently begun reading "The Places That Scare You" by Pema Chodron. In this book, she mentions the Three Lords of Materialism, which I'd like to share with you.

In Buddhism, these Three Lords symbolize various aspects of materialism that can hinder our spiritual development. Each Lord represents a specific form of attachment or delusion.

I find it valuable to personify these tendencies, as it can be beneficial for everyone and also aligns well with Stoicism.

  1. The Lord of Form: This Lord represents physical materialism, the belief that happiness and security can be achieved through material possessions and physical comfort. Real-world examples include consumerism and the belief that buying certain products, like fashionable clothing or luxury items, will lead to happiness or improved social status​​.

  2. The Lord of Speech: This Lord governs psychological materialism, the concept that our identity and understanding of the world are constructed through words and narratives. This is evident in how we use language to define ourselves and our roles in society, like job titles and resumes, or in how we adopt particular ideologies or philosophies to create a sense of security and self-importance. Over-reliance on intellectualism or ideological dogma can be seen as serving this Lord​​.

  3. The Lord of Mind: This Lord is associated with spiritual materialism, which occurs when religious or spiritual beliefs are used to bolster the ego rather than seek genuine understanding or enlightenment. An example is when people adopt spiritual practices or beliefs to feel superior or special, rather than engaging in authentic spiritual exploration and humility. This can include using meditation or other spiritual practices as a means of self-aggrandizement rather than as tools for genuine spiritual growth​​.

These Lords illustrate how various forms of materialism can dominate and mislead us, drawing us away from true spiritual progress.

Which Lord do you worship the most?

Off The Troden Path

📆 Self-Improvement To-Do List

  Contemplate: Learn and internalize these following 9 Stoic affirmations to set your mind up right each day.

Watch: In my younger years, I used to follow a content creator on YouTube known as Boogie2999. However, as time went on, I discovered that he had experienced a significant decline in his mental well-being. He bravely allowed a documentary filmmaker to document his life for a period of 9 months, resulting in the creation of a poignant documentary titled "The Dark, Sad Life of Boogie2988."

Game: Lately I’ve been playing the simple but fun Ridiculous Fishing EX on Apple Arcade, an updated, handcrafted game about fishing with guns, chainsaws & toasters.

Meditate: One of my most popular meditation tracks ever recorded is the following 12-minute meditation on death. Give it a try, you may be surprised.

All Things End

🤝 Friend of Wisdom

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