Where to look when you are…chasing pleasure
[Javits Wild] When he was in the country, he always asked the people he chanced to meet what "normal life" was like, because he had forgotten. The answers varied, and he gradually came to realize that, even when he was surrounded by other people, he was absolutely alone in the world. He decided to draw up a list of what constituted normal attitudes and behavior, based on what people did rather than on what they said.
- Normal is anything that makes us forget who we are and what we want; that way we can work in order to produce, reproduce, and earn money.
- Setting out rules for waging war (the Geneva Convention).
- Spending years studying at university only to find at the end of it all that you're unemployable.
Whenever you get an impression of some pleasure, as with any impression guard yourself from being carried away by it, let it await your action, give yourself a pause. After that, bring to mind both times, first when you have enjoyed the pleasure and later when you will regret it and hate yourself. Then compare to those the joy and satisfaction you'd feel for abstaining altogether. However, if a seemingly appropriate time arises to act on it, don't be overcome by its comfort, pleasantness, and allure- but against all of this, how much better the consciousness of conquering it
—Epictetus, Enchiridion,34(resource) Ryan Holiday, The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom
What's left to be prized? This, I think -- to limit our action or inaction to only what's in keeping with the needs of our own preparation... it's what the exertions of education and teaching are all about -- here is the thing to be prized! If you hold this firmly, you'll stop trying to get yourself all the other things... If you don't you won't be free, self sufficient, or liberated from passion, but necessarily full of envy, jealousy, and suspicion for any who have the power to take them, and you'll plot against those who do have what you prize... But by having some self respect for your own mind and prizing it, you will please yourself and be in better harmony with your fellow human beings, and more in tune with the gods- praising everything the have set in order and allotted you.
—Marcus Aurelius, Meditations,6.16.2b-4a—