“This is the mark of perfection of character — to spend each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, laziness, or any pretending.”MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 7.69
As author Ryan Holiday points out in today’s entry of The Daily Stoic, the Stoics didn’t really think it was possible to truly be perfect (tending toward pragmatism instead). There was just the idea of perfection that you could strive toward, and that was enough — the striving.
So for Marcus, his measure of perfection was simple. To live each day as if it were your last, with three simple criteria.
First, do it without any “frenzy”, without the craziness that comes from panic or overthinking. Fear and worrying achieves nothing, and it’s usually worse than the thing we’re afraid of.
Second, live your life without “laziness”. This doesn’t necessarily just mean physical laziness, but it can mean mental laziness as well. You have an obligation to try your hardest and challenge yourself. That means constant self-improvement — and there’s no snooze button allowed.
Third, no “pretending”. By this I’m reading it to mean no fakery and no lying to yourself and others. Be as authentic as you can be, even when no one is looking. Be true to your own soul.
And those are the measures of perfection, at least as close as you can come, according to our old friend Marcus!