Due to my discovery and adoption of Stoicism when I was in College, I find it utterly perplexing that people put so much emotional energy into things they cannot control.  The most recent example of which is the complete investment some have had with regards to the Presidential election (and the related class-warfare, OWS, ultra-progressive nonsense).

From the shrill cat-calls of the “Never gonna vote…and you’re an idiot for voting” crowd to the over-impassioned (and delusional) “Tax the rich* progressives.

A lot of the things that these people became involved with are externalities that are outside the sphere of their control.  There is no way to change them and to try to do so would be to your detriment.

You will suffer, and be miserable as a result.

To quote Epictetus:

Of all existing things some are in our power, and others are not in our power. In our power are thought, impulse, will to get and will to avoid, and, in a word, everything which is our own doing. Things not in our power include the body, property, reputation, office, and, in a word, everything which is not our own doing. Things in our power are by nature free, unhindered, untrammeled; things not in our power are weak, servile, subject to hindrance, dependent on others. Remember then that if you imagine that what is naturally slavish is free, and what is naturally another’s is your own, you will be hampered, you will mourn, you will be put to confusion, you will blame gods and men; but if you think that only your own belongs to you, and that what is another’s is indeed another’s, no one will ever put compulsion or hindrance on you, you will blame none, you will accuse none, you will do nothing against your will, no one will harm you, you will have no enemy, for no harm can touch you.

Stoicism (and its Eastern cousin, Zen) is the path that every man should find and learn to walk to the best of his ability.

*Which by the way, won’t solve the Government’s fiscal problems.  Every society throughout human history has organized into a High-Middle-Low hierarchy (including the so-called “Classless” ones), so destroying the High or bringing the High into the Middle would, eventually, just create a new High.  Class warfare isn’t a policy to hold people together; it only divides them. 

Being envious and covetous of others’ things is never a way to live a happy and content life.


Resources for the Novice Stoic:


The Enchiridion of Epictetus

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

Stoicism (very detailed and in-depth, I recommend it)


7 thoughts on “Externalities

  1. Easier to be content as a Stoic than happy as an Epicure; hedonistic treadmilling’s a real bear. And, agreed, better to not worry so much over things beyond one’s control.

  2. Thank you. This is great. I am a recent follower of Stoicism and have recently just gotten around to reading Aurelius’ Meditations. Insightful stuff.

    Love your blog.

  3. […] In this episode of The Venerdi Podcast, I start off by expanding on why last week’s episode was so short and why I’m looking forward to a massage. Then I thank those of you who’ve been watching the EUIV videos at my YouTube channel and muse about starting a new daily series. Changing gears, I rant about the idiocy of “bachelor props” which turns into a ramble on becoming a stoic. […]

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