The Daily Stoic for April 4th: “Don’t let this go to your head”
“Make sure you’re not made ‘Emperor,’ avoid that imperial stain. It can happen to you, so keep yourself simple, good, pure, saintly, plain, a friend of justice, god-fearing, gracious, affectionate, and strong for your proper work. Fight to remain the person that philosophy wished to make you. Revere the gods, and look after each other. Life is short—the fruit of this life is a good character and acts for the common good.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 6.30
Today’s stoic meditation seems to warn us about the dangers of loosing your path when you become rich or powerful. Marcus Aurelius, actually from the south of Spain, became virtually the most powerful man in the world. The Roman senate granted him the name Augustus and the title imperator, and soon after, he was formally elected as Pontifex Maximus. Probably these notes were a way for him to humbly remember who he was, and his origins.
As I am not a rich person, and actually don’t intend to be, I don’t know to which extent this meditation applies to me.
If I Were Rich…
Would I change if I were rich? Would I be a different person? I don’t know. Most probably, I will never know, and that’s OK .
Accumulating money is not my goal in life. I want to actually live with less. I don’t need a car, a big house, and a closet full of luxury suits.
I wear black T-shirts that cost 3€, and my trousers are around 8€. I’m comfortable wearing that. Given that I hate suits and ties, I don’t think my outfit would change significantly if I earned six figures a month. The same goes for the rest of stuff, from apartments to cars to phones.
Yes, I would probably get a new macbook pro, a faster one. I would probably go to nice apartments and be less worried about the rent and the bills. But I don’t think that would make a difference overall.
Don’t Let This Go To Your Head
Of course, I cannot affirm that categorically. Nobody is a good judge in his own case, they say, and that’s true.
However, I think that, when your goals in life have nothing to do with how much stuff you own, how big is your house, or how powerful is your car… When you don’t enjoy impressing others, or need to show them you are better, you have less chances of becoming a presumptuous prick.
Would my life change? Probably yes. To be honest, I don’t know what I would do if suddenly money stops being a problem, and I can do what I want. Probably I will keep on writing on this blog and traveling… so that’s pretty close to what I do now, if you remove the rest of my work.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Don’t let this go to your head” is, in my view, a fair warning about the dangers of loosing our way if we become rich or powerful. As that’s not my goal in life, I can hardly imagine what would happen if money was not a problem for me anymore. Would my life change significantly? I don’t think so, but then again, nobody is a good judge in his own case.
I think that the best way of not letting money, power or fame to change you is none of that being a goal for you in the first place.