Here’s a question to ask yourself about your work and your life: Do you create value for society or do you extract it? Are you a giver or a taker? Do you make the world better with your choices and actions and lifestyle?
When the Stoics talk about sympatheia, they are referring to this idea that we all have a role, that we’re all part of a larger whole. And, of course, the Stoics were not so naive that they didn’t understand some people’s roles were to be shameless, to be evil, to be lazy, or whatever. (Marcus alludes to an idea in Meditations that even people who are sleeping are doing a job of some kind). But just because that is some people’s role, doesn’t mean it’s a good role or that it should be yours.
It’s worth taking the time on a regular basis to stop and consider what you’re contributing to this whole crazy system we’ve been born into. Marcus said that we were made to do works for the common good. Well, are you? Are you helping people? Is what you sell actually worth people’s money (and therefore time) or are you such a good marketer that you trick them into thinking so?
Decide to create value. Decide to give more than you take. Make the world better by being in it.