Flee From Luxury

“As for me, I would choose being sick over living in luxury, for being sick only harms the body, whereas luxury destroys both the body and the soul, causing weakness and incapacity in the body, and lack of control and cowardice in the soul. What’s more, luxury breeds injustice because it also breeds greediness.”


It’s pretty common wisdom in our society these days that extreme wealth doesn’t bring happiness — quite the opposite, it brings sadness. We know this intuitively, and we express it by with truisms like “mo’ money, mo’ problems”.

In today’s entry in The Daily Stoic, the author points out that people who win the lottery often find themselves worse off than before, as their newfound riches cause no end of strife and discord in their lives. Again, this is naturally obvious to us; we know it from some deep wisdom within.

Musonius says above that he’d rather be sick than wrap himself in splendor and affluence. Why? Because sickness brings harm only to the body, whereas luxury destroys the soul. And if we value our souls, we should flee from luxury.

Note that it’s not wrong to have money or be wealthy, of course. We can live well — but we should skip the luxury. Opulence and over-the-top living is a step beyond what we truly need, and as Musonius states, it “breeds injustice because it also breeds greediness.” Better to be poor and happy, than greedy and bankrupt in the soul.

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