Your Occasional Stoic — Do Not Waste What Remains of Life On What Others Think of You

 

 

Do not waste what remains of life on what others think of you, when it makes not for the common good. You are surely neglecting other work if you busy yourself with what others are doing and why, with what they are saying, thinking, or scheming.

All such things do but divert you from the steadfast guardianship of your own soul. It behooves you, then, in every train of thought to shun all that is aimless or useless, and, above all, everything officious or malignant. Accustom yourself so, and only so, to think, that, if any one were suddenly to ask you, “Of what are you thinking-now?” you could answer frankly and at once, “Of so and so.” Then it will plainly appear that you are all simplicity and kindliness, as befits a social being who takes little thought for enjoyment or any phantom pleasure; who spurns contentiousness, envy, or suspicion; or any passion the harboring of which one would blush to own. For such a man, who has finally determined to be henceforth among the best, is, as it were, a priest and minister of the Gods, using the spirit within him, which preserves a man un-spotted from pleasure, un-wounded by any pain, inaccessible to all insult, innocent of all evil; a champion in the noblest of all contests—the contest for victory over every passion. He is penetrated with justice; he welcomes with all his heart whatever befalls, or is appointed by Providence. He troubles not often, or ever without pressing public need, to consider what another may say, or do, or design. Solely intent upon his own conduct, ever mindful of his own concurrent part in the destiny of the Universe, he orders his conduct well, persuaded that his part is good. For the lot appointed to every man is part of the law of all things as well as a law for him. He forgets not that all rational beings are akin, and that the love of all mankind is part of the nature of man; also that we must not think as all men think, but only as those who live a life accordant with nature. As for those who live otherwise, he remembers always how they act at home and abroad, by night and by day, and how and with whom they are found in company. And so he cannot esteem the praise of such, for they enjoy not their own approbation.

Meditations 3:4

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Do not trouble yourself with what others think of you. A simple admonition, but as we’ve said before, much harder to implement, and perhaps that is why it occurs so often in the meditations. Marcus isn’t just reminding us to stay focused on that which we can change – our actions – he is also reminding himself. Stay true to your life’s work. Ignore the haters.

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