Stoic Journaling with Brittany Polat


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Tanner Campbell 0:07
Good morning and welcome back to Practical Stoicism My dear Prokopton today is Wednesday, which means we have a long form discussion version of the podcast and this week it is with Brittany Polat. If you don’t know who Brittany Polat is, I don’t believe you because if you’re not who I am, you must know who Brittany is because Brittany does so much work in this space. As I discovered in this 60 minute conversation that I find it hard to believe anyone would know who I was and didn’t know who she was. Britney has a PhD in linguistics. She is a steering committee member of modern stoicism. She’s on the board of the stoic Fellowship, which is a nonprofit you may have heard of, she’s the co founder of stoic hair, which is another nonprofit. She’s the CO organizer of Stoicon women, and she is the author of among other books journal like a stoic, which is mostly what we will be talking about in the upcoming discussion. The reason I invited Brittany onto the podcast is because she’s prolific both in terms of writing she has three books, and in terms of participation and organization and leadership in the stoicism community, she is really someone you need to know. And there was another reason I was a little selfish to meet her, Hey, I’m a content creator. I want to meet other people who are doing good stuff out here in the stoicism community. So I wanted to meet her and I have a podcast I get to do that. Now. I guess. I get to meet cool people. And I get to help you get familiar with cool people. And I can tell you for certain after 60 minutes of conversing with Brittany that not only is she a prolific writer and prolific in her participation in the Stoke community, but she’s also super cool, so you’ll be glad to meet her. I won’t say more than that. I will just get right into the conversation. So here it is my conversation with Brittany Polat.

Tanner Campbell 1:53
Brittany Polat. How are you?

Brittany Polat 1:55
I’m doing well, how are you?

Tanner Campbell 1:56
I’m doing super, I am actually quite excited to talk to you because we have just launched a journaling program for practical stoicism. And then I came across your book, and I was like, oh, geez, I hope we even did half this good. Your book is really good. Oh, thank you. And we’re gonna spend time talking about it. But I think I want to start the way we started all these episodes by asking a little bit about you. And we’ll start with where you’re from, and how you grew up?

Brittany Polat 2:19
Sure. Well, I can’t say it’s very interesting. I had a pretty typical suburban childhood outside of Atlanta, Georgia. So I grew up, I didn’t have any career aspirations or anything like that. So the only thing I wanted to do was to live in Europe, I wanted to get out of the suburbs. I managed to do that I lived in multiple different countries throughout Europe, I found it was a little bit too cold for me over there, and ended up coming back to the US but nothing too special. Just a typical childhood.

Tanner Campbell 2:48
What was the draw to Europe? Was it just a did you feel confined by your suburban upbringing, you’re like, I gotta get out of here, there’s gotta be more to the world than this.

Brittany Polat 2:56
Yeah, kind of like that, you know, the suburbs, I wouldn’t say are beautiful, and a lot of ways, you know, the urban sprawl kind of thing. And I was always longing for the art and the culture and, you know, some kind of connection, I think, to I think, even at that time, I was kind of looking for a connection to something bigger than just, you know, consumerism or the things that we typically associate with with the suburbs. And I live in the suburbs now. So I came back to it. It’s not as if you can’t live a good life there, you can live a good life anywhere, right, as Marcus Aurelius points out, but that was just kind of my path over over there. And then back to the United States.

Tanner Campbell 3:33
You know, that’s a piece of advice I’ve heard a lot in my life, because I’ve never been to Europe, I’m in the process of relocating to Portugal in the next few months, and I have this fear that I think you should is validated, which is it’s not going to be any different there. It’s going to be, you know, pretty much the same. As far as if you’re not happy here, you’re not going to be able to be happy somewhere else, just because of geography is different.

Brittany Polat 3:52
Yeah, you know, that is a lesson I learned, because I kept, I kept moving. So I lived in beautiful places. I lived in Paris, I lived in Vienna, I lived in Istanbul. And at the time, you know, this was a long time ago, I was in college. So I’ve learned a lot since then. But at the time, I just had the feeling that the external environment would provide my happiness. And of course, in the intervening years, I’ve learned that is not the case. It’s your internal environment that creates your happiness, right? It doesn’t matter where you are. So you know, I still love Europe, I still go back and travel there. But I don’t have the same expectation from my surroundings that I once did. So but I hope you have lots of happiness there. I’m sure Portugal will be awesome.

Tanner Campbell 4:31
I think I’ll show up and I’ll say, wait, I guess I’m the drama. That’s what I figured. Well, so was that experience for you traveling in Europe and maybe eventually coming to that realization? Is that what brought you to stoicism? Oh, this is an internal thing. That’s what I have to focus on. Was it immediately obvious that stoicism was the answer or did you like many kind of stumbled across and say, oh, wait a minute, what’s this?

Brittany Polat 4:53
Know that came many years later? So after I moved back to the United States, you know, I got married, had kids pursued a career I’d As a PhD in applied linguistics, and it was really at that point when I had my children and my two worlds collided, you know, my at that point, I had career ambitions in applied linguistics and the realization that I couldn’t match those up with the kind of parent that I wanted to be. And at the same time, just realizing that I needed some kind of navigation system for being a parent in the world and being a person in the world, right, but but when you have kids, it all kind of just comes crashing down reality, right, you realize that maybe the things that you’ve valued up to then are not going to carry you through. Once you have kids, you need some kind of consistent and firm value system that you can share with them that can help you navigate all the difficulties of suddenly having to take care of another person who’s extremely dependent on you. So it all just came crashing down. I was at a point where we had moved to a new town, I didn’t have any family or friends, you know, no support, I was going through this career change. I had three young kids very highly energetic, and I just, I needed something I needed some kind of guidance. So I actually one day, I just went on Amazon and typed in wisdom into the search box. And one of the books that came up was William Urban’s a guide to the good life. And the subtitle of that book is the ancient art of stoic joy, which I found very intriguing. So I clicked, you know, one thing led to another, I bought the book, loved it, and then just kept ordering more books on stoicism and just went deeper and deeper and found that it was making my life a lot better. It was making me a better person, when I went through, you know, the practical exercises and adjusting my mindset and all of these things. So that’s how I ended up a stoic.

Tanner Campbell 6:37
What I find the most interesting about that answer is, and pardon me for saying this, because it’s obvious, but you’re a woman. And it can often seem that stoicism feels to women. I’ve heard this, this is the feedback that I get as very not inviting, but you didn’t even hit that hurdle. You found this great book by Irving jumped right into it, and kind of ran with it. Do you think maybe that idea that stoicism is not inviting to women in the way it’s presented in the wider world is less true than maybe myself and others think it is?

Brittany Polat 7:07
I think it is true to an extent. And this is something that’s come up a lot. As you may know, I’m involved with this, do a con women conference with my co host, Catherine Corominas. And you know, we’ve talked about this a lot with other women. So there’s nothing inherent in the philosophy itself that would be unfriendly to women, the philosophy itself applies to every human being. And so this is something that I really connect with is this universalism, the Stoics, even the ancient Stoics, as you know, they were into cosmopolitanism, and applying the same principles of virtue and justice to everyone. Of course, we can fault their application of that in their ancient context. And today, we’re much more aware of some of the issues surrounding that. But within the philosophy itself, there’s nothing inherently, you know, unfriendly to women. What you do see applied in the popular culture is there are some, you know, aspects that seem to be very male centric, which I think are just accretions. They’re just added on, they’re external to the philosophy, but they are part of how the philosophy is sometimes presented. So I’m thinking of those corners of the internet that are very, you know, macho or, or things like that. So there are these extra accretions added on that can be unfriendly to women. But once you peel those away, stoicism is awesome for everyone. So this is what we try to really bring out and show in our work with women and Steadicam women in this kind of thing, that it’s a philosophy for everyone, every single person can benefit from stoicism.

Tanner Campbell 8:27
Well, I don’t know if it was your intention. Maybe it wasn’t. But I feel that you’ve really done that. Well, in your book journal like a stoic, the one that we’re going to be talking about today. Was that intentional, because that book did not feel it didn’t even make a statement on gender at all. And it felt very accessible to me, my girlfriend’s been using it. She hasn’t said anything as if this feels very hyper masculine or anything. I mean, it feels like a really great treatment of the concept of journaling, and of an introduction to stoicism. Because you don’t need to be a stoic to use this book, you can be completely unfamiliar with the philosophy entirely.

Brittany Polat 9:01
Absolutely. Yeah, it certainly was, you know, it wasn’t my top goal because I try to be approachable to everyone. So my main goal at all of my materials is to be inclusive for everyone kind of just like I was just pointing out stoicism is a philosophy for everyone. So that’s the point of view that I bring to all of my work, whether it’s this book or with stoic care, or with my modern stoicism work. So I think that is what comes across is that universal aspect in in this book and other things. So that is what I hope people will pick up on so thank you for that. Of course,

Tanner Campbell 9:32
I mean, deserved. Can you introduce me to the conceptualization, purpose and coming together if this book because it’s not the first book you’ve published in the space? I think it’s the most recent book you’ve published in the space. So what got you from, you know, being the mom, the wife and the individual who was struggling and looking for something, finding stoicism to get into this masterful implementation of the practice of journaling? I mean, it is really good and I’m not trying to hype you up, but it’s very good.

Brittany Polat 9:58
Thank you. I appreciate that. Well, obviously, it’s been a journey, we all have our own journey that we go through. So after I first discovered stoicism and just read everything I could get my hands on, I started a blog. So that was probably 2017. And at that point, I realized, you know, I just wanted to share it with other people. It had been so powerful for me. And so life changing, you know, you just want to use like, Oh, why has nobody told me about this before? Why do people not know about this? And so I wanted to share it with as many people as possible. So I started doing that in the context of parenting. And I wrote a book called tranquillity parenting, where I do take a very stoic perspective on raising children dealing with challenges as a parent, teaching your kids virtue, this kind of thing. And from there, you know, I’ve just been very active in the stoic community trying to share it with as many people as possible through various organizations. And you know, one thing led to another, this book actually came about, I was approached by the publisher, Penguin Random House. It’s a branch of Penguin Random House called Zeitgeist. And they said, We think there’s an opportunity here for a journal or journaling program, and we need someone to fill in the gaps. So they found me and I was delighted to accept. So that’s kind of the conception of the book.

Tanner Campbell 11:10
Oh, wow. So you came with just a general overview of the idea. And they said, Oh, that sounds great. Let’s do it.

Brittany Polat 11:16
They had the idea of a stoicism journal. And they were looking for someone to write it for them, basically. But I was at first I was a little bit hesitant because there is a lot of misinformation out there about stoicism, as I’m sure you know, all these misconceptions of what stoicism is. So I was very careful getting involved in the project. You know, I thoroughly reviewed the idea that the head of stoicism what they wanted me to present and I felt like it was aligned with my view of stoicism as well. So after I accepted, then I was able to kind of present my viewpoint as well. So just so your listeners know a little bit about the structure, it is a 90 day program, and it’s set up as 330 day courses. So each course has a different focus. For example, the first one is examining the inner critic. So we’re kind of looking at those assumptions that you might be bringing into the program of you know, your sense of self worth, or your values in life, that kind of thing, reexamining those, trying to find the truth, you know, peeling back all those layers that you’ve added on over the years, and getting back to the kernel of the truth of who you are. So for example, that was the first program, I’m very happy with how it turned out. But it was definitely a team effort. It was a very different project than most books, or my first book. For example,

Tanner Campbell 12:29
can I ask because your education is in linguistics, it’s not formally in philosophy. So there must have been a feeling of let’s say, impostor syndrome, when you first started writing on this topic, did you feel blown out of the water when penguin approached you and said, Hey, you’re the person we think should write this. We were you like, whoa, that’s not expected. That’s really cool.

Brittany Polat 12:49
It was unexpected and really cool. But I have to say, I’ve always approached my work with stoicism as virtue is kind of a great equalizer. Sometimes people have asked me all you know, you work with these well known philosophers. Do you ever feel intimidated or impostor syndrome? And my response is that virtue is equally open to everyone, right? We’re all working towards virtue. And we know that just because someone is well known, it doesn’t make them any more virtuous than somebody else. Right. And I’m not saying that the philosophers I work with are not virtuous, because I greatly admire them. I mean, all the people in stoicism the people I work with through modern stoicism, the stoic fellowship, there are some incredible people, incredible philosophers. They’re wonderful. But I think just having that stoic idea that, you know, renown isn’t a good in itself, that we’re all kind of working toward virtue, it kind of evens the playing field a little bit. And, you know, for your listeners as well, there’s no reason why you can’t be as virtuous as one of the more well known stoics. Right. So that virtue is open to all and that I think that’s kind of helped me avoid impostor syndrome. Now, do I sometimes question whether I have the necessary skills and expertise, obviously I do. But I try not to just I try not to focus on worrying about that as a good stoic. You know, I tried to focus on what I can do, which is improving my knowledge and skills, improving my practice staying committed, and finding more effective ways to communicate as well. So I tried to focus on what I can do rather than worrying about Oh, am I not qualified? Or am I not good enough? That kind of thing.

Tanner Campbell 14:20
I love that. And I feel like to understand it seems like you understood that right from the get go, which I feel like I certainly didn’t. I felt very impostor syndrome. Me when I started this podcast. When I started talking about stoicism. I thought, why don’t have a PhD? Can I even refer to myself as philosophical without a PhD? I mean, it was it’s admirable that you felt that way going right into it. It suggests you’re quite an advanced stoic Brittany Poe lots.

Brittany Polat 14:43
I don’t know about that. But yeah, we all just have to do our best.

Tanner Campbell 14:47
Well, we were talking with Brittany Polanyi about her new book journal like a stoic and we are going to take a quick break to hear from the sponsor and we will be right back. Stay with us. And we are back with Brittany palot. Brittany, what’s the benefit of journal wheeling, and what makes stoic journaling distinct or different from journaling? That we’re all used to, you know, this kind of Dear Diary, my dad was really lame today. He wasn’t cool. My parents don’t get me. You know, what’s what’s different there.

Brittany Polat 15:12
What stoic journaling does is it takes these kind of abstract or theoretical concepts that we learn about through the books that we read, for example, or the podcasts we listen to. It takes it from that abstract level, to a very concrete level, how do we actually apply it in our lives? How do we internalize these principles and let it change who we are for the better. So I consider journaling, a spiritual exercise, which your listeners might be familiar with. This was a term popularized by Pierre hadow in the ancient Greco Roman context. And basically, he realized that a lot of the writing they were doing, it wasn’t working out the theory, it was getting people to change their inner way of looking at things. This inner transformation is what these ancient philosophers were really going for. This is what makes a difference in our lives. It’s not having just the knowledge, it’s having the knowledge and then transforming it into our own practice. So like other spiritual practices, such as contemplation, meditation, reading, discussion, all of these are types of spiritual practices. Journaling is one type. And in this journal, specifically, stoic journaling, what I’m asking people to do is take an abstract concept like justice, for example, or courage and say, okay, in your life, how can you apply courage? What is one thing that you want to be courageous about? And how can you start doing that today? So it’s making it very concrete and real, maybe breaking it down into more accessible steps? And just really contextualizing it for your own life?

Tanner Campbell 16:38
Do you journal yourself? I imagine you must. Yeah, I’ve

Brittany Polat 16:40
done different things over the years. I even consider my blog, my first blog, a type of journaling. I’ve seen people do journals on social media, for example, it’s one way to hold yourself accountable. I’ve done just writing copying down quotes. And I’ve also done personal kind of reflective journaling, as well. So I’ve tried different things over the years. And I tell people, sometimes I get a question, oh, you know, journaling, isn’t it for me? I’ve tried it, I don’t like it. What am I doing wrong? And I really tell people, you know, there’s no one size fits all, find what works for you don’t force yourself if it’s not working for you find a different spiritual exercise that can accomplish something similar. You know, don’t feel like you have to slap yourself on the wrist. If it’s just not something you enjoy, personalize it for your experience for your tastes for your personality, just find something that works for you.

Tanner Campbell 17:28
Do you have any advice for determining what the differences between say, knowing that this isn’t right for you journaling? In general? So journaling specifically, and just maybe not wanting to push through some of the initial roadblock that everyone will have? If it’s journaling? For the first time everybody’s going to feel like I think like they suck at it? How do you distinguish between that initial discomfort of learning something new, and knowing it’s not for you, so to speak,

Brittany Polat 17:53
I would say give yourself time, obviously, you know, maybe try the first 30 days, that’s long enough to kind of get yourself into a routine and maybe overcome some of the initial hesitation, go through 30 days and then reassess. Okay, did this work for me? Did I accomplish my goals? What did I get out of it, if you gave it a good faith effort, and it still just didn’t work for you at that point, you know, maybe you find something else. But you do have to make sure you gave that good faith effort in the first place, right, you can’t just kind of do a half hearted Oh, you know, I didn’t like it, I’m not gonna keep going with it. What I do personally, is I set aside a block of time every day for some kind of stoic related activity. So I get up in the morning, I have my coffee. And then I have an hour to do something related to philosophy. So whether that’s journaling, whether it’s reading, whether it’s writing, or just some kind of contemplation, whatever it is, I give myself that time. Now there have been times in the past, for example, when my kids were very small, when I didn’t have any time to do that I didn’t even have two minutes. So I would say be patient with yourself and find something that works, but you’re gonna have to find some kind of time to do it. If you want to make progress. If you want to improve in happiness and your character, you got to find something. So at one point, I recommend this in my tranquility parenting book as well. The only time I had to myself was when I was brushing my teeth in the morning and in the evening. So I would link my meditation and my review of the day to brushing my teeth. So if that’s all you have, then go with that but just try to find something that works with you and your routine

Tanner Campbell 19:27
will actually that brings a good question to mind. The idea of imperfect practice of anything right that’s kind of built into stoicism. We’re all Prokop tons. We’re all working to better ourselves and we’re likely never to be sages but I think people can get really worked out for themselves in a program any journaling program yours or ours or somebody else’s. If I miss a day I messed up. Now I it’s not I can’t do it because I’ve missed a day but how would you react to people who have that criticism of themselves they start your 90 day journaling program and by week three they have to take today He’s off because they just feel like they can’t do it or some life gets in the way. And then they really beat themselves up about it. How might you help them feel better about that? What’s some advice you might give to that person to stop them from being too tough on themselves? Because it’s not fair. Right?

Brittany Polat 20:11
Right. Well, I would remind everyone that we talk about a stoic practice, right, not a stoic perfection. We’re practicing the virtues we’re practicing at being a better person. So you’re not expected to already be perfect. And I would also recommend self compassion. This is something that I think very few people talk about in the context of stoicism because we tend to talk about our very high standards, right, but high standards, high personal standards can also coexist with self compassion, they’re not exclusive. In fact, I would argue that you can have higher standards, if you’re also compassionate when you sometimes don’t meet those standards. So what does self compassion mean? It means saying, Okay, this is my goal. But hey, if I don’t meet this goal, it’s okay. I forgive myself, I’m going to try again tomorrow. It does not mean giving up, right? It means saying, Okay, I understand, you know, there was something going on today, it didn’t happen, for whatever reason, I’m not going to beat myself up about it, I’ll just try again tomorrow. And then you tell yourself that every single day, if you notice a pattern where you’re kind of avoiding or trying to escape, then maybe you need to be a little bit more strict with yourself, we’re not going for, it’s not about letting yourself off the hook. It’s about compassionately observing, that you did your best. And sometimes, you know, we’re all human, we’re not perfect, we’re never going to be perfect. Sometimes we can try our best, and it still doesn’t have the desired effect. And that’s when we are compassionate towards ourself.

Tanner Campbell 21:36
I really love the idea that we’re having these really high standards, but our standards for compassion are so low that we’re beating ourselves up when we don’t meet our high standards. I hadn’t thought of it that way before. So building compassion into your whole framework of high standards. I love that, why 90 days? Why not? 30 or 120, or some other arbitrary number was 90 intention.

Brittany Polat 21:57
Yeah, you know, there is some research showing it takes 90 days to establish a new habit. But I think even just common sense, you know, not too short and not too long. What’s what’s a good length for people to really get into the groove and see some inner transformation without being, you know, a to huge commitment. So So I think, you know, there’s some research and also just being as accessible as possible to people.

Tanner Campbell 22:22
Oh, I see. So if you said five years of stoic journaling, people might be like, holy shit, that’s a big commitment. I’m not sure if I want to do that.

Brittany Polat 22:29
Might be overboard.

Tanner Campbell 22:31
Right? And if you said a week, and people might think, well, what am I gonna get out of a week? Right, exactly. You mentioned the tie in to habit forming. Was any of that based on any study of neuroplasticity or that concept?

Brittany Polat 22:41
Not directly, you know, the publisher was not citing that research when they came to me, but I think indirectly, yes, all of us today are much more aware of these psychological factors. And, you know, there’s the neuroscience can inform what we do today. So I think implicitly, yes, that is kind of behind it as well,

Tanner Campbell 23:00
you in general, is your advice when people pick up this book, which I hope every listener will journal like a stoic, go get it now pause this go get the book, is your advice that they attempt to go the full 90 days in one run? Or is it hey, this is 90 days of journaling? And if you need to spread that out over four months or five, that’s my suspicion is that that’s okay, based on what you’ve just said, but I want to make sure,

Brittany Polat 23:20
absolutely, it’s okay. Yeah, you might choose doing a couple entries a week. So spacing it out, you could even go once a week, if that’s what works with your schedule. Like I said, I’ve been in places in my life before where I just didn’t have time, I was responsible for three tiny human beings who are always demanding me to be there. So if that’s you, you know, don’t feel guilty about it, do what works for you, we all have different stages in our lives. One thing that I was really aiming for with this book was to be accessible to everyone, university students, people who are retired, you know, wherever you are in your life, there are I think their ideas and concepts and prompts that will work for you. And so I always encourage people just make it work in your life, whatever you need to do make it work for you. It’s not a wrist slapping program. It’s a growth program. So however, you can grow however much however little just make it happen.

Tanner Campbell 24:12
And maybe that’s the reason in the first section of the 90 days is addressing the inner critic. Exactly. So would you mind if it’s okay, would you mind sharing one of these journaling prompts and just to give a sense of what they shape up like and what they asked us to do?

Brittany Polat 24:26
Sure. So I will read for you from day 27. Keeping things simple. This is one of my favorite quotes from Marcus Aurelius. Think of those things only about which if one should suddenly ask, what do you have now in your thoughts with perfect openness, you might immediately answer this or that so that from your words, it should be plain that everything in you is simple and benevolent. So I love this idea of keeping things simple. This is something that I strive to do personally and I struggle with sometimes so it’s this is a very personal prompt for me, but you know, he describes inner simplicity as thoughts that in Rich and enhance your character, which I really like. Because a lot of influences in our world think about external simplicity, you know, minimalism or just getting rid of activities in your life. And those that’s important to, you know, streamlining where your attention goes. But Marcus is talking about inner simplicity, which we don’t usually think about. But it’s extremely important if we want to focus on what matters most in our lives. So one prompt is just simply What does inner simplicity mean to you describe your mindset when you’re most at peace. What are you thinking or not thinking about? Where are you physically write down one way you can put more energy into cultivating this simple and benevolent state of mind.

Tanner Campbell 25:40
I love that. That is actually, by the way, one of my more favorite quotes as well. He speaks to something that isn’t just about simplicity, but it’s also Hey, you can’t just be on the outside all the things you’re trying to be you’ve got to work on being those things on the inside as well. So that when your grandma says, Hey, what are you thinking about? You don’t answer how much everything sucks.

Brittany Polat 25:59
Yeah, sincerity, authenticity, I think we hear a lot about authenticity, as you know, just being true to who you are, without reference to your inner principles. But what stoicism says is that to be authentic, you need to know what kind of person you are, you need to understand human nature, you need to know what’s going to make you happy as a human. And so all of this is involved in simplifying our lives and doing what’s really going to bring us the most happiness as a human

Tanner Campbell 26:23
right, not learning buzzwords and focusing on externals, but focusing on the self. I mean, that is, after all, the core of stoicism correcting the self. One more question before we take our next break and move into the next section. Do you find prescriptively? That there’s generally a good amount of time when you can manage it that your journaling practice should take up? 15 minutes? 30 minutes? Is there a nice kind of range in there that you find works for a lot of people just as general advice, not as a prescription? Yeah,

Brittany Polat 26:49
I think between 10 and 15 minutes is a good range to aim for any more than that. And it seems like a burden. And I kind of say that based on my practice of yoga and pilates, some things that I have to really discipline myself to do,

Tanner Campbell 27:04
no one wants to do three hours of hot yoga. For sure.

Brittany Polat 27:08
Right, right. You know, there are some days when I get up, and I think I do not want to do that right now. And so I tell myself, just do 10 minutes, just do 15 minutes, it makes it sound a lot more doable. And I can mentally convince myself to get down in the floor and do 10 or 15 minutes of yoga, even if I really don’t want to even if I feel stressed or crunched for time or whatever. So just from my own personal practice, you know, with trying to work on self discipline and things like that, that’s what I find is a good time. But again, it depends on your life. You know, if you’re not currently employed, and you have more time to devote to it, by all means do 3045 minutes, whatever works for you. Again, it’s about understanding your own life circumstances and your own personality as well.

Tanner Campbell 27:50
Great advice. So we are going to take another break to hear from another sponsor, and we’ll be back with Brittany Pollachi in just a few moments. Stay with us. And we are back with Brittany palot. We’ve got some listener questions, we’re actually going to do four sections in this episode, which I know is not usually what we do with our long form discussions. But in this case, Britney’s got so much stuff going on, then I feel like there’s no way we can fit it inside of just 45 minutes. So I’ll shut up and ask the first question, which comes from listener Tony B. And Tony’s asking about the process of writing, he wants to know, what did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about the process? What did you experience during the writing of this latest book journal, like a stoic and maybe some of your other books as well,

Brittany Polat 28:26
the writing process was very compressed for this book, I had a very tight deadline. So it really pushed me to write and get down there every day. And whether I felt like writing or not, I had to get busy with it. So I did learn a lot about the writing and editing process from it, I highly recommend if you ever want to force yourself to do something quickly sign a contract that tells you you have to complete it quickly. Once you sign your name, there is no turning back, you are on the hook to do this. But you know, it’s a wonderful process of working with stoicism. And one thing that I found was the longer I spent with the material with the stoic materials, I was looking through stoic quotes, you know, I was really spending time thinking about how to present this to an audience. The more time I spent with it, the better I felt. And I think this is obviously a reflection of the high quality of you know, the ancient stoic materials and how it can be a positive influence on your life on your mindset, all of this, but it was just a great reminder that the more time we’re able to give to this, the more we put into it, the more we’re going to get out of it. The writing process is always challenging. You always feel like okay, you know, if I, if I put it this way, how are people going to understand this, you have to kind of get inside the minds of your potential readers. So it makes you think through things very, very carefully, not just about how you’re wording, but about how you’re approaching it conceptually in the first place. You know, what kind of concepts are relevant for us today in the 21st century? How do I take Marcus Aurelius okay Roman emperor and his concerns back then and translate them for us today. So even though you know, I was not translating, per se, I did feel in some ways, like a translator like a cultural or philosophical translator. So it was a really interesting process, which it was beneficial for me. And I hope it was beneficial for the readers as well.

Tanner Campbell 30:14
Can I ask just because myself and Kai whiting are in the process of writing a book together, and I have gotten some questions from our community just in general about that process. And I think the idea might be to those who don’t write that writing a book is a one month endeavor, that this is something that just happens over a very short period of time and with your book, because I’m talking about journal like a stoic people might think, Oh, it’s a 90 day journaling program, it took 90 days for her to write 90 prompts. And this probably not true. Can I ask you how long it took you to write this book?

Brittany Polat 30:43
This book was it was a very compressed timeline. So I did actually do it in 90 days.

Tanner Campbell 30:49
Wow. That is wild. It was a

Brittany Polat 30:53
challenge. Yes, I bet. But my previous book, it was more of a year long process, which is more, you know, the regular timeline. So with that kind of thing, you’re going through the whole process from proposal, right? So you have to think about the concept of the book, you have to do your market research and say, Okay, what other books are out there? Why would anyone want to read my book in particular, does the world need a book on this topic, that kind of thing. So you put together your proposal for your agent and editor, and then you submit it, you wait for feedback, you know, you might get some feedback and have to resubmit it, things like that. And it’s it’s more like a year long process. And then after your manuscript is approved, then you have to wait for publication, which could be any amount of time, you know, it seems like it gets longer and longer all the time. So I would definitely say in most cases, producing a book, creating a book is not a short process. This one was a little bit expedited, just because of the nature of the project that you know, the publisher was very interested in getting it to market quickly. But most of the time, it is much more spread out. Wow, I

Tanner Campbell 31:56
can’t believe you were able to do this in 90 days. That’s insane. That means that you came up with the plan and the structure and everything in the same amount of days as you had to write prompts. That’s pretty That’s wild. I have a whole different level of admiration for you now. Oh, wow. That’s crazy. Well, another question from Tony is because you are also author of the book tranquility parenting, he asks, what are some parenting techniques for working with your kids, maybe breathing exercises for the kids journaling, forcing our kids who jokes to take cold showers in an attempt to instill resilience in them? What do you got?

Brittany Polat 32:30
Yeah, definitely not cold showers for the kids. Sorry, Tony. Yeah, so as far as teaching your kids for two, I think we need to start with the question Can virtue be taught and like anything, you can never force someone to learn, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink, right. So it all starts with you as the parent, and you’re modeling and your approach to situations. So I always tell parents, your kids are watching you all the time. Even if they act like they’re too cool. Even if they pretend that they’re not listening, you are a point of reference for them as to how they should act in the world, how they should respond to challenges and difficulties. And we can see this very clearly, with young children. It happens with older children as well, though you are kind of a navigation system for them until they’re able to develop their own system of values. Or maybe to put it another way, during the process of growing up, they are developing their system of values, and you are one of their reference points. Now, of course, as they get older, as their as they become a teenager and onward, they have other influences, well, school peers, eventually their workplace, you know, popular culture, this kind of thing. But the parent always retains a position of influence. So we have influence but not control over our kid, which I think is a really important distinction. You know, going back to the dichotomy of control, which I’m sure your listeners are familiar with, we cannot control what other people do. As parents, however, we do have a position of influence and authority and responsibility towards our kids more so than pretty much anyone else in the world. But just thinking in terms of not controlling, like I do not control this child action, I can influence how they act, I can influence how my child responds to the world. So thinking in terms of influence rather than control was a revelation for me, it really helped me as a parent to overcome a lot of my anxiety about my kids to overcome some of my guilt as a parent, because a lot of our culture places, you know, makes parents feel guilty for whatever their kids are doing. If your child doesn’t do well, in school, for example, the implication is that the parent is not doing something right. So I think just separating out influence from control is a good place to start and then being a role model for your child. So we can’t ask our kids to control their emotions. For example, if we’re not doing that ourselves, if I’m yelling at my child, not to get upset, there’s a disconnect there because I’m doing something that I’m asking them not to do. So being a role model and taking responsibility for our own actions. You know, it’s Sounds very obvious. But it’s something that outside of stoicism not many people are talking about as stoics we recognize the power of our own actions.

Tanner Campbell 35:07
Well, you know, I think it is not spoken about enough within the stoic community or within most communities at large, I have a person in my family who is who are parents, and they have kids and they’re having, they’re having a difficult time with one of their children with eating, she’s, she’s eating too much. And they seem not to recognize that they do the same thing. And that kids watch. And when you like you said, when you yell at your kid for telling them, you know, for yelling, or if you’re yelling at your partner in an argument that sets a precedent that yelling is well, okay, maybe yelling is not okay, because I’m a kid, but mommy and daddy are doing it. So it must be okay. Really, kids are, I think, a lot smarter, a lot more attentive than perhaps we give them them credit for. And it’s so common that we don’t pay attention to our own actions, right. It’s one of the things that stoicism really helps us to do and journaling helps us to do is to reflect on what kind of example we are leading by, which is the suggestion here, right, we want to lead by example, and try to limit physical control as much as we possibly can.

Brittany Polat 36:06
Exactly. I also like to think in terms of creating an environment in your household within your family, building your own family culture. So creating kind of just an atmosphere of respect for other people. Without all the yelling, you know, I treat you the way that I want to be treated by you. So I think that applies to adults as well as kids, just like you were pointing out if you are, you know, having petty disagreements with your significant other than how can you expect your child to act differently? It all starts with you. So I think setting that example, and creating the kind of environment that you want your child to be in?

Tanner Campbell 36:40
Well, I have a question. This question actually comes from me, the stoics suggest somewhere between I think most of them say 16 years old, in the ancient world, some of them, I think, when I was young as 14, but before you should be teaching a child philosophy, they should be somewhere around that age range. But certainly there are ways to build and we’ve kind of just going over some of this, but there are ways to build towards teaching them that eventually, what are some ways for example, to teach a young child without teaching them about dichotomy of control, for example, about dichotomy of control some ways to influence that direction of thinking,

Brittany Polat 37:11
right? So I don’t use explicit philosophical concepts with any of my children. My oldest is now 10. So she’s approaching the age where she’s able to understand things more abstractly, but I don’t think it’s necessary. You know, ever since they were small, we’ve been trying to incorporate stoic ideas into our everyday life, one of the main ways I think we can reach our children is through teachable moments. So you know, your child comes home from preschool and says so and so pushed me on the playground, right? How do you respond? Again, your child is watching you, your response is going to influence how your child responds, do you get upset and say, Oh, well, you know, Johnny was bad, he shouldn’t have pushed you like that? Or do you take a more gentle approach and say, Oh, I’m sorry, that happened? What did you do, you know, talking the child through it calmly and rationally, and then suggesting a stoic response without obviously saying that it’s a stoic response, you know, okay, so Johnny did something he shouldn’t have. But it wasn’t your fault. That means he hasn’t learned how to play nicely. He hasn’t learned how to be a good friend, I use that phrase all the time with my kids, especially when they were younger, that this other child just hasn’t learned how to be a good friend. So it’s kind of removing the really negative judgment and blame because obviously, all children are learning, right? We don’t want to label them in a really negative way for our kids to then go and label them.

Tanner Campbell 38:30
Johnny is a jerk mom says you’re a jerk, Johnny.

Brittany Polat 38:33
Exactly. Right, we want to avoid that. So modeling, again, modeling that behavior in a very calm way. And having those I would call them rational conversations. Now, a lot of people tell me, a five year old, a three year old, they’re not rational, they can’t really rationalize in the way that an adult can obviously this is true. However, I can now say after having done this for over five years, with my kids,

Tanner Campbell 38:57
with three kids, everybody, please remember that.

Brittany Polat 39:00
They learn how to respond to the world in a rational way. They learn to reason about it, because I’ve been helping them to talk through and think through those scenarios. Instead of reacting emotionally. I’ve been helping them to take a step back and talk about it in a common rational way. Now, are they perfect? No. Do they sometimes overreact and, you know, get angry about things and frustrated? Of course they do. They still do. But again, these are all opportunities for us to model a more responsible or a more productive way of dealing with this situation. So I think these teachable moments as a parent are some of our greatest gifts. That’s all great.

Tanner Campbell 39:37
I don’t have kids. But so I always feel bad talking about parenting advice and stuff. People asked me for it all the time. And I’m like, I need to have more parents on this show. I don’t know all I have are dogs, although they’re two of them in there are a handful. But thank you, Brittany. I appreciate all of those insights. We’re going to take one last break. We’re going to come back and we’re going to talk about the myriad of projects that Britney is involved in if you didn’t think there were already enough things going on in Brittany slack If there’s more, so stay with us. We’ll be back in a moment. And we are back with Brittany pull out again, like I said, we don’t usually do a section for but Brittany really does have a lot of things that she’s involved in to the benefit of the entire stoicism community. Let’s start with stoic summit 2023, which is I think happening in Tampa in April, is that right?

Brittany Polat 40:18
That’s right, April 1 in Tampa, Florida, we’re having modern stoicism first in person gathering since before the pandemic, it’s been a while. So we’re really excited to get everybody together and try to build some of those connections. You know, we’ve gotten used to doing everything online, which is great in a way and still a con the the big stoic kind of event in the fall will still remain online. So it will be accessible to everyone from around the world. But yeah, we just wanted an opportunity to bring people together to have those face to face conversations and you know, hear in person from the speakers

Tanner Campbell 40:48
those things that everybody misses. Who is this event mostly for do you imagine it being mostly for locals and tamper? Do you get you hope people from all over the country maybe all over the world come to this?

Brittany Polat 40:58
Yeah, I would say it’s for everyone in North America. We intentionally named it stir con, sorry, stoic summit 2023 North America so that we can have kind of a local field but also cosmopolitan. So you know, if anyone wants to come across the ocean, we welcome we welcome everybody. But I’m thinking that it will probably draw more people just from the United States, Canada, Mexico, from throughout North America.

Tanner Campbell 41:21
Okay, cool. And everything we’re about to talk about. I’m gonna make sure there are links to in the show notes. So forgive me for working through all of these things. I’m Brittany’s resume, I mean, oh, my goodness, there’s so much he’s doing so much. But there will be links to everything in the show notes. So forgive me for not mentioning them, but I will make sure that people can get to them. Next is the stoic fellowship. Can you talk about that? Because this is in person both online and physically in person. These are I guess what you guys call Steaua all over the world. These are physical communities where people can I mean, let’s say you live in Parma, Italy, I don’t know maybe there’s a Parma stoah. And people can actually connect with online and in person, people from their neck of the woods from their part of the world. Can you talk a little bit about the stoic Fellowship, which is also a formal nonprofit?

Brittany Polat 42:02
That’s right. Yeah, stoic fellowship has been around for several years now. And basically, it just connects different groups, you know, we all have kind of a longing to be with other people, we all have a wish to connect with others on a local level. So this just kind of formalizes it and says, Hey, you know, if you’d like to meet up in Tampa, or in Tempe, Arizona, or wherever you happen to be, let’s get together. Let’s talk about stoicism. And then the stoic fellowship is an umbrella organization that kind of makes it easier for people who are looking for a group to identify when in their area, or if they’d like to start a group to provide the resources to start. So I would definitely recommend going to stoic If you’re interested in joining a group, you can search the map and find one in your area. If there isn’t one near you, I would strongly encourage you to think about starting one. Like I said, the stoic fellowship provides support and resources and a mentor this kind of thing for people starting new groups, so they try to make it as easy as possible, we realize that it can be difficult to say, oh, you know Who, me I’m not. I’m not equipped to do this. But we really provide resources so that you can do it to start a group in your own area.

Tanner Campbell 43:09
And if you think that’s not you, I would recommend picking up Britney’s new book, you may have heard of it. It’s called journal like a stoic and in the first month, you’re gonna cover that inner critic, and then you’ll think you’re perfectly settled to start your own store locally. There’s also modern underneath the modern stoicism, Banner stokercon. Women. Can you talk about that one?

Brittany Polat 43:27
That’s right. Yeah. So as we were discussing a little bit earlier, stoicism can seem a little bit off putting to women. So we wanted to just kind of amplify women’s voices. This event, we’ve had it two years now. And it’s been very successful, very well received. And again, you know, it’s not to say that this is only for women, because we do have a lot of men who attend as well. It’s open to everybody. So we just want to have a platform where women can come together and see other women, right, see that we’re not alone in doing this. And again, just maybe showcase things a little bit differently from women’s perspective and see what women have to say about issues that are applicable to everyone

Tanner Campbell 44:06
and is the next rendition of stokercon women coming up soon is that this year has it already passed.

Brittany Polat 44:11
It is around the same time as the regular stew a con So October, I believe it’s going to take place at the same time this year, still early in the year so I don’t have exact information, but my colleague Catherine Cornelius is heading that. So just take a look on the modern stoicism webpage follow modern stoicism on social media and you’ll get that information.

Tanner Campbell 44:30
Okay, great. And maybe we can have your partner and you back to talk about that event ahead of it because we do have while 90 or so percent of our listenership is male. We do have a growing segment of women who I’m very proud about and happy because it’s been hard to make that happen. I listening to this program, so I’d love to have you on to talk about that. Absolutely. And then you also have a four week course on stoicism and love for just I think this is an insanely low price. It’s $25 for a four week course it’s called stoic care and it’s about stoicism and love and how to Understanding how to implement it both for yourself and in your relationships. Can you talk a little bit about that course?

Brittany Polat 45:05
Right? So stoic care is the nonprofit that sponsoring the course stoic love. And yes, this is our beta version. So it is a pretty bargain price for right now for a four week course. So definitely jump on that if you’re interested. But yeah, we just want to showcase all the ways that stoicism can promote love both loving yourself, you know, again, going back to that inner critic, some of us have had bad experiences in life. And we’ve internalized the criticism of other people or the belittlement that we might have experienced. And so we need to find ways to move past that. And stoicism actually provides some excellent tools for learning to accept yourself and love yourself the way you are. Also, we talk about loving other people by showing compassion, and then generating goodwill. And this these really positive emotions that the ancient stoics talked about. It’s there. It’s in the ancient literature, but it just isn’t really talked about very much in today’s stoic sphere. So we want to really draw that out and give people the opportunity to learn about it. And we also have, you know, things that some spiritual exercises and other things that will help you implement it in your own life daily quotes, reflection prompts and things like that.

Tanner Campbell 46:10
Is this the sort of thing that is cohort? Do you have other students that you’re working with, as a student yourself as a video lead instructor led? What’s the course shape out like,

Brittany Polat 46:19
right, so it will be cohort at least for the first iteration starting February 1 2023. After that, we’ll see. Like I said, it’s beta. So we’re just going to see see how it goes. But yeah, every week, there’s a video lesson provided by me. And it’s just kind of guided and structured similar to journal like a stoic where, you know, we want to give you support, we have the ancient text, but let’s pull out the relevant parts and talk about it and think about how it’s going to be applicable to your life. So it’s really just a way of supporting people through something that can be a difficult process and drawing out this other side of stoicism that doesn’t receive enough attention.

Tanner Campbell 46:55
Well, we have been speaking with Brittany palot, who is just prolific in her writing and her involvement in the stoic community, as I think you’ve heard, and I would encourage you please to check the show notes of this episode for all the links to all the books that she’s written to all the things she’s involved in. And Brittany, is there if somebody wants to reach out to you directly. Do you have a contact form on your website and email address some way to get in touch with you and follow up on this episode?

Brittany Polat 47:19
Absolutely. You can reach out to me on Twitter at Brittany palot or either one of my websites do I care? Do I or living in agreement is my more philosophical a little bit more theoretical but still practical website. So any of those places? I’m always happy to hear from people and happy to respond.

Tanner Campbell 47:35
Well, again, we’ve been speaking with Brittany Polanyi. Brittany, thank you so much for being here and I am sure we will have you back on the show in no time.

Brittany Polat 47:42
Thank you. It was a pleasure.

About the author

Tanner Campbell

Hi, I'm Tanner. I spend most of my time writing in the philosophy space and I'm the host of the Practical Stoicism podcast. When I'm not writing, I'm reading or recording. In rare moments when I'm not writing, reading, or recording, I'm spending time with my partner and our dogs.

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