Beyond Passion

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An advice from a 2000 year old slave...

Epictetus was a Greek philosopher, born into slavery. Yet, he had a deep understanding of human beings, of society ...and of life. He believed that our prime motivation should be inner achievements, not outer ones. The right attitudes and values allow you to flourish no matter what the external world throws at you. Inner achievement lays the foundation for peace, tranquility, and personal freedom. And so he taught that true success comes from refocusing ourselves within. Whether you are a street sweeper or CEO, Epictetus insists that your most important task in life is improving yourself.

Money can buy freedom from want and from work that is drudgery. But beyond that, it begins losing its power. Most certainly, it cannot buy contentment. Beyond the safety net, more money adds little or nothing to your subjective well-being. Yet almost everywhere, people imagine it will. We can spend decades chasing this dream only to be disappointed when we arrive. After all, who would you rather be, a wealthy coot driving his La Ferrari or a young man roaming the streets of Paris with a few change in his pockets?

Aristotle had the right idea. Our target is the golden mean, the felicitous middle between the extremes of excess and deficiency. Buddhists call this "the Middle Way", the path between austerity and sensual indulgence. Perhaps it really does lead to enlightenment.

Beyond material comfort our happiness is highly dependent on principle-centered living. When we follow these universal principles, we are happy, engaged, and satisfied with our lot. But when we depart from these principles, our conscious aches-or should-and trouble follows.

However, recognizing this won't change a thing. As the proverb says, "Wisdom is knowing what to do next. Virtue is doing it." Albert Einstein once said, "The true value of human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained liberation from the self." That sounds transcendent to me.