In Book Twelve, as Meditations is wrapping up, Marcus writes “It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.” In another section, he writes, “Ambition means tying your well-being to what other people say or do…Sanity means tying it to your own actions.”
These were important reminders for our team when The Daily Stoic book was released in October. We posted great numbers—more than enough to hit the New York Times List (weekly and monthly). We waited eagerly for the Times to post them and when they did, guess who was nowhere to be found?
It would be dishonest to say that that wasn’t frustrating. Even having low expectations–having been snubbed before—you still expect the world to be fair or an organization to follow the rules they claim to follow (if you sell the most, you should be on the list). But you have to catch yourself. Following that line of thinking is a recipe for misery.
Doing good work is what matters. Recognition and rewards—those are just extra. To be too attached to results you don’t control? It will not end well. It’s always helpful to ask: Why do I care what these people think again? Why does their opinion matter to me? Understanding the words is not always enough, sometimes we have to really feel them—to have their meaning forced upon us. Think of that next time you experience life’s unfairness. That it’s just a reminder of your Stoic teachings and that you can become stronger for it.