When it comes to your goals and the things you strive for, ask yourself: Am I in control of them or they in control of me?
– Ryan Holiday, Daily Stoic
This is the concluding question for today’s Stoic reflection, and looking back and thinking about my own reflections, I wonder about the many times my desires were the one to drive me.
Epictetus makes it very clear, that regardless of what we desire, that need to pursue something will always have it’s way of controlling us.
“Remember that it’s not only the desire for wealth and position that debases and subjugates us, but also the desire for peace, leisure, travel, and learning. It doesn’t matter what the external thing is, the value we place on it subjugates us to another . . . where our heart is set, there our impediment lies.”
But who doesn’t want anything? Everybody has ambitions, everybody has desires, so is wanting something wrong? Of course not, but what message does Epictetus want me to understand?
That I should be aware if my desires are driving me.
I can get caught up with what I want, that I deny everything else around me. I don’t listen to advice, and I don’t recognize if I am doing too much in going for that desire.
Like when I tried managing my life, only to be blinded by so much mental clutter that I never recognized that I was wasting more time than being productive. The goal can definitely be blinding, and thus my ability to recognize things outside the goal is very important if I am to have power over myself.
A Stoic is not driven by desire, but by virtue. Are my actions righteous? Do they conform to living by nature? Am I being the best I can? Do I sacrifice too much to achieve my goals?