“Tranquility can’t be grasped except by those who have reached an unwavering and firm power of judgment — the rest constantly fall and rise in their decisions, wavering in a state of alternately rejecting and accepting things. What is the cause of this back and forth? It’s because nothing is clear and they rely on the most uncertain guide — common opinion.”SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 95.57b-58a
You can’t be tranquil unless you’re confident in the path that you’ve set out for yourself. It’s not wrong to seek different points of view, and new opinions and information. But at a certain point you have to move forward with reasonable assurance in the general accuracy and rightness of your plan, otherwise you’ll be buffeted about by a million opposing thoughts and decisions, and trapped in endless uncertainty. That’s what Seneca is getting at today in The Daily Stoic book.
We’re not going to be right all the time. Sometimes our our decisions or even our overall plan could have faults, and that’s okay. But we have to assume that “we’re heading generally in the right direction” as Ryan Holiday puts it — otherwise we fall prey to comparing ourselves with other people or their opinions (I’m looking at you social media), or just constantly changing our minds based on every new piece of info that comes in.
If you want to be tranquil and steady, you have to have confidence in the plan that you’ve set out for yourself and not get distracted. Keep the end in view based on what you want, and your direction will be that much clearer.