“I don’t agree with those who plunge headlong into the middle of the flood and who, accepting a turbulent life, struggle daily in great spirit with difficult circumstances. The wise person will endure that, but won’t choose it — choosing to be at peace, rather than at war.”SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 28.7
At times in your life, you might find yourself in the midst of great trouble and strife. Hardship and difficulty might find you. But don’t seek it out — that’s not something a wise person does. We accept the hardship that life sends our way, but we don’t go looking for it on purpose. If given a choice, you should choose to be at peace, rather than at war. That’s the wisdom from today’s chapter in The Daily Stoic.
The book’s author Ryan Holiday highlights the warrior culture that permeates much of the west, where we glorify and idolize the struggle and the violent circumstances that people must fight through. He uses the example of Teddy Roosevelt and the almost maniacal obsession he had with toughness and challenging situations.
But the wise person doesn’t seek out war. And they also realize that there’s nothing dishonorable or wrong with embracing peace, and a quieter and calmer existence. That doesn’t mean they are weak — on the contrary, it likely means that they are stronger on the inside, and not drawn to strife and turbulence just because it’s flashy and exciting and makes one feel invigorated.
Instead, the wise person chooses introspection and self-work. They shut out the negative, and consciously choose reflection and philosophy, and kindness to others. Wise people find their tranquility from self-confidence. They choose peace over war, whenever possible. And they sleep well at night, knowing in their heart they’ve made the right decision.