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    People Can’t Change, but You Can

    Daily Stoic Emails

    It’s an indisputable fact of history: people have always been people. They don’t change. They remain selfish, ignorant, dishonest, and weak. It was true in Rome and it’s true all these thousands of years later. You can talk to them until you’re blue in the face, Marcus Aurelius observed, you can try to show them the errors of their ways, but it doesn’t matter. They’ll just keep on doing it. 

    So what does that mean? Do we give up? No. We just change our focus. 

    People might not be able to change, but we can. You might not be able to get through to your parents or your boss or those nasty commenters on social media, but you can certainly get through to yourself. You might not be able to get your neighbors to stop littering, or lying, or laying around, but you can break those habits yourself

    Humankind is afflicted with timeless, apparently unbreakable, vices. But you are not humankind. You are not the mob, you are not “people.” You are you. You are the one person whom you have complete control over. You can break the pattern. You can step up, you can get to work, you can make new habits. 

    So do it. Today. Now. Be the “red” that Agrippinus talked about. The one who stands out. The one who is different. The one who can change.

    P.S. This was originally sent on July 19, 2020. Sign up today for the Daily Stoic’s email and get our popular free 7-day course on Stoicism.