The Daily Stoic for November 21st, “Once Is Enough, Once Is Forever”.
“A good isn’t increased by the addition of time, but if one is wise for even a moment, they will be no less happy than the person who exercises virtue for all time and happily passes their life in it.” —CHRYSIPPUS QUOTED BY PLUTARCH IN MORALIA: “AGAINST THE STOICS ON COMMON CONCEPTIONS,” 1062 (LOEB, P. 682)
“Perhaps today will be the day when we experience happiness or wisdom. Don’t try to grab that moment and hold on to it with all your might.” says today’s stoic meditation.
Ok, so if the idea is that good things such as happiness and wisdom are worthy even if we experience them briefly, I agree.
However, in my mind you can’t really experience happiness or wisdom “just for a moment”. Maybe that’s because of my language bias.
But let me explain myself.
Once Is Enough, Once Is Forever…
In Spanish, there’s a difference between two different meanings of “freedom”. One of them is “gratis“, meaning free such as in “free beer” (no cost) and another one is “libre“, meaning free such as in “freedom of speech” (liberty).
Similarly, we differentiate between “contento” or even “alegre“, meaning, being happy at one specific moment (i.e: “Wow, I’ve won the lottery! I’m so happy!”) and “feliz” (i.e: “I feel happy and fulfilled with my life, family and job”). The same goes for wisdom.
That difference is important. Like in the case of freedom, one means something that only lasts for a moment, while the second meaning depicts a state or long-term situation.
So I don’t really think you can experience real happiness “just for a moment“. Yes, you may feel glad about something, and experience a “happy moment”, but “happiness”, for me, is tied to that second meaning of just feeling content and satisfied with your life. That’s the meaning I strive for.
Something similar happens with wisdom. I don’t care about being clever or showing others who intelligent I am, or how smart I acted at one point in my life. I would like to reach wisdom, long-term wisdom. And that takes time, humility and experiencing lots of things.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Once Is Enough, Once Is Forever”, discusses how everything we experience is worthy even if we only experience it for just a moment. While I agree, I think there’s a difference between short and long term happiness, wisdom and a lot of other concepts.