Daily Touch of Inspirations

March 23rd: The straitjacketed soul

Ryan Holiday, The 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living

The diseases of the rational soul are long-standing and hardened vices, such as greed and ambition- they have put the soul i in a straitjacket and have begun to be permanent evils inside it. To put it briefly, this sickness is an unrelenting distortion of judgment, so things that are only mildly desirable are vigorously sough after. ~Seneca, Moral Letters, 75.11


In the financial disaster of the late 2000s, hundreds of smart, rational people lost trillions of dollars' worth of wealth. How could such smart people have been so foolish? These people knew the system, knew how the markets were supposed to work, and had managed billions, if not trillions, of dollars. And yet, almost to a person, they were wrong- and wrong to the tune of global market havoc.

It's not hard to look at that situation and understand that greed was some part of the problem. Greed was what led people to create complex markets that no one understood in the hope of making a quick buck. Greed cause other people to make trades on strange pools of debt. Greed prevented anyone from calling out this situation for what it was- a house of cards just waiting for the slightest breeze to knock it all down.

It doesn't do you much good to criticize those folks after the fact. It's better to look at how greed and vices might be having a similar effect in your own life. What lapses in judgment might your vices be causing you? What "sicknesses" might you have?

And how can your rational mind step in and regulate them?

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom Perseverance and Art of Living

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