The Daily Stoic for today, April 28th. “Wants make you a servant”.
“Tantalus: The highest power is—
Thyestes: No power, if you desire nothing.”
—SENECA, THYESTES, 440
It’s true that we are slaves of what we want or need. While we think that we can change our lives if we want to, it’s not as simple as A, B, C. In today’s stoic meditation, Ryan Holiday writes:
“Remember: taking the money, wanting the money—proverbially or literally—makes you a servant to the people who have it. Indifference to it, as Seneca put it, turns the highest power into no power, at least as far as your life is concerned.”
Well, I think for Seneca it was easy to say that. Being one of the richest and more influential people in Rome, he probably could afford not taking or wanting money from anyone.
However, for us, ordinary mortals, sometimes taking the money is a necessity. Sometimes we want the money only because we need it. Seneca won’t probably understand that, but sometimes you cannot afford refusing it for freedom’s sake.
Obviously, the decisions we take during our lifetime matter. In my case, I quit my steady job to pursue my dream: being my own boss –and the owner of my company-, living as a digital nomad and becoming the owner of my time.
Still, even if you make those decisions, that doesn’t mean you become free from the mundane world. You still have bills to pay and schedules you need to stick to.
Wants Make You A Servant
Nonetheless, what I can certainly agree with is that needs make us servants. Sometimes, those needs are not “real” at all, they are just mere marketing artifacts. Since I became a digital nomad and decluttered my life, I have tried to live with less.
Simply put, less stuff makes you more free. Things impose physical and emotional burdens on us.
Similarly, less clutter in your life, less undesired commitments, less self-imposed obligations, liberate yourself.
That’s why I try to live with less, and commit to just the important things in my life. My partner, my business, and my family… and little else.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “Wants Make You A Servant”, talks about how our needs and wants make us slaves to people who have what we want or need.
While avoiding this trap is not as easy as Seneca -one of the richest men in Rome- considered it, there’s always something we can do. Our decisions really matter. Yes, it’s not the easy path the one that will take you to freedom, but the destination makes up for it.