I am guilty of reading too much solely the stoics. I also feel I lack a strong opinion in many matters but in my defense I can say that I’m certainly working in developing it. I’m guilty of so many vices, maybe that is the reason, no, that is definitely the reason of why I stumbled into stoicism and loved it so much. Vices are terrible. Let’s name a few:
You get the idea. Stoicism works as a purifier. Today, fortunately, I opened Nietzsche as soon as I woke up to get my brain going. He’s terrific in making you think deeply and creatively. I was reading Thus spoke Zarathustra and what he said was just magnificent. He said that our vices are our virtues or potential virtues.
Once you had passions and called them evil. But now you have onlyyour virtues: they grew out of your passions.You set your highest goal in the heart of those passions: then they became your virtues and joys. And though you were of the race of the hot-tempered, or of the lustful, or of the fanatical, or the vengeful; in the end, all your passions became virtues, and all your devils, angels. Once you had wild dogs in your cellar: but they changed at last into birds and charming singers. Out of your poisons you brewed soothing ointments for yourself; you milked your cow of sorrow – now you drink the sweet milk of her udder. And nothing evil grows out of you any longer, unless it be the evil that grows out of the conflict of your virtues.
Lovely? What a fantastic point of reference and understanding isn’t it?
Our vices become our virtues.
What we need to work the most on, is showed to us bluntly.
If you are a coward (ouch, that sounds pretty harsh) you need to work in your courage and you will develop it if you set the right intentions and work, out of cowardice you’ll construct character and courage.
It is only when we consciously do this that we grow.
It’s hard, it is very hard to look at ourselves honestly and work on what needs to be worked.
Judgment is easier, we see this a lot in society. It’s easier to maintain our personal images intact and judge other people, but I believe that everytime we judge we are actually saying something not of the other person but of ourselves.
The best revenge comes from not being as the one that injured you, at least that gives you the power to work on something within your control, which, stoically, things under your control are the only things you should be worried about.
Human psychology is extraordinarily complex. People will not change unless heavy distress falls upon them. It’s easier to judge and keep our vices to ourselves but then something happens in life, be it age or accident that impedes to keep hiding the pests. The longer we wait, the harder they’ll be to convert.
A constant work therefore must be done to use our vices as foundations for virtues and so live stoically and proudly.