Stop Chattering About Other People

There is no more seductive time-suck than talking about other people and their choices. Why did she do that? Can you believe he lets his kids talk to him that way? I heard they cheat on their taxes. If I was in his shoes, you know what I’d do? Why don’t any of these politicians have a spine? It can go on for hours and hours and hours. You can spend the whole morning at the office chattering in the break room about what your co-worker did wrong, or you can spend that more productively working on your own stuff. And that doesn’t just mean your assignments—it means yourself.

Marcus Aurelius’s famous quote (which we have as a limited edition print from the artist Young & Sick) is “Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” He might as well have said: Stop wasting time talking about other people, focus on yourself. Who cares what they should have done, what you would have done, what you think is in such bad taste. What matters is what you are doing. Right now. With your own life.

That’s what the Stoics want you to think about. That’s the purpose of the philosophy. To improve your life and your behavior. And not to spend another second chattering and judging other people.