The Daily Stoic for July 27th. “Where Is Anything Better?”.
“Indeed, if you find anything in human life better than justice, truth, self-control, courage—in short, anything better than the sufficiency of your own mind, which keeps you acting according to the demands of true reason and accepting what fate gives you outside of your own power of choice—I tell you, if you can see anything better than this, turn to it heart and soul and take full advantage of this greater good you’ve found.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 3.6.1
I love the stoic philosophy, but to be honest, today’s stoic meditation does not really resonate with me.
I certainly agree that the ideals stoics strove to achieve are definitely desirable. Justice, truth, self-control, courage… Being a calm, reasonable person is something we all should try to be.
However, what I dislike is the way stoicism, once again, acts in an exclusionary way when dismissing other important things in life.
“At some point, we all thought that money would be the answer, that success was the highest prize, that the undying love of a beautiful person would finally make us feel warm inside.”
Where Is Anything Better?
Well, I never cared about being rich, driving a Porsche or being a “successful man” (whatever that means). Nonetheless, money can give you freedom, so maybe it’s not an end in itself, but a means to an end. And trust me, freedom is as important as any character trait stoics so desperately desired. At least, it is for me.
Regarding love, I don’t exactly get what’s wrong with love and feelings for stoics? Obviously, thinking and acting rationally, and having control over our feelings is good. But does that mean we need to ditch love altogether?
That seems to be the case on every passage of the book. When love, passion or any other reference to such emotions is mentioned, it’s in bad terms. Something to avoid. Were stoics devoid of love? Incapable of feeling any love in order to keep their emotions under control?
Plus, that’s completely wrong. Humans are social animals. We are happier and live longer if we love, share our lives and enjoy our emotions and feelings with our family, friends, beloved ones…
So all in all, I think I’d rather enjoy an imperfect and chaotic life with freedom and love, than a perfectly reasonable, orderly and aseptic life devoid of emotions.
I love stoicism, and I think it’s an amazing tool to help you in times of distress, grief or anger. But today’s “Where Is Anything Better?” just showcases the part of stoicism I like less. Namely, the one that denies or demonizes human emotions.
As always, you should get what’s useful for you and get rid of the rest. 🙂