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If It’s Right, It’s Right For You

Daily Stoic Emails

Sometimes we get asked or tasked with doing stuff in life we’d rather not have to do. Maybe that’s working a less than glamorous job when we’re young. Maybe that’s filling a role in your family that diverges from traditional gender roles. Maybe that’s taking heat for something that wasn’t our fault, or being seen as the bad guy, even though the facts are on our side.

There is a tendency to be ashamed of these things, and then to hide them. We’re afraid of people judging us, so we hedge or cover or try to do them at night, when no one can see us.

Nonsense. If it’s the right thing to do, then it’s right to do it. Don’t hide it. Embrace it. Own it. Epictetus’s rule for his students was:

“Whenever you do something you have decided ought be done, never try to avoid being seen doing it, even if people in general may disapprove of it. If, of course, your action is wrong, just don’t do it at all, but if it’s right, why be afraid of people whose criticism is off the mark?”

If being a stay-at-home dad is the right thing for your family, then do it—and anyone who thinks overwise can go to hell. If wearing a silly hat, or “pieces of flair,” while you wait tables is what you’ve got to do to pay for college, then wear it proudly. The hat doesn’t say anything bad about you as a person. It’s a badge of honor not for the job, but for you and your commitment to your family, your goals, your future. If a leader makes a call they know is right, that has to be enough. Who cares if people criticize it afterwards? The fact that other people are mad about it is irrelevant to whether it was what you knew to be the correct choice.

“Just that you do the right thing,” Marcus Aurelius said. “The rest doesn’t matter.”

Ignore the criticism. Ignoring the judging. Don’t give a second thought to how it looks. If it’s right, it’s right for you.

P.S. This was originally sent on May 10th 2019. Sign up today for the Daily Stoic’s email and get our popular free 7-day course on Stoicism. 

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