Marcus Aurelius wrote his “Meditations” as a reminder to himself to daily practice the virtues he sought in life. He wasn’t trying to be a teacher and he probably didn’t expect to be a writer. I think we should try in our personal and professional life to do just the same, Focus on our own goals, not on what others think or expect from us.
How miserable life would be if one tried merely to impress others. A life many people spend buying things they don’t like to impress people that don’t like them, desperately trying to be recognized or remembered without investing any time getting clarity, peace of mind, or gaining wisdom.
How difficult is to recognize all the extrinsic factors that can only harm you? How difficult is to ask yourself: “Am I in control of my emotions and my life? Am I possessed by my properties or material things or do I possess them?” “Am I ready and prepared to face the storm?” Am I able to exercise with Wisdom and intention my “reasoned choice”, as Epictetus called it? And am I capable of understanding what is behind my “reasoned choice” and what is just opinion, or is out of my control?
We force ourselves to do many things, just because everybody is doing it. We end up losing control of our lives and our goals and desires. We do things that have no impact on us achieving our true goals and desires, all because we don’t simply take the time to ascertain what we really want in our life. If, on a rare occasion, one finds the time to do so, more often than not, one isn’t emotionally prepared to handle it and is even afraid to discover what is really important. So we don’t even try and yet, we’re still afraid of failing. Stoics say: just try. Nobody can be perfect and not everyone can be a sage. But trying means to be a better person than the day before. And if done with determination every day, it could lead to more happiness and tranquility than rage or tediousness. Stoics (just like Buffett) try to “Enjoy every day” in this wonderful journey called life; this always surprising pursuit in which you can “spend each day as if it were your last”, and as Marcus Aurelius wrote: “Without frenzy, laziness or any pretending”.
There’s a lot of the Stoic philosophy in the unpretentious, but solid viewpoint of the world in the great “Value Investors”. It’s unplanned incidentally, because it’s a natural outcome of the common sense that is not regarded as precious as it really is because it seems too simple. Its principles for living a good life are “just so simple” as Charlie Munger said numerous times. In my experience, it is not always easy when you really have to apply those principles and values to your everyday life. Especially in 2021, a world in which noise is constant and overwhelming. And the strength required to cut it must be great. That’s why for me, today more than ever, the Stoics and their vision are critical for a happy life and happy investing. We need to have a sound mind, that can think and live outside the box, while not being reclusive or withdrawn. Observing all that is around us with bright eyes and inquisitive brains. All the rest is just noise.
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