The flourishing life is not achieved by techniques. You can’t trick yourself into a life well-lived. Neither is it achieved by following five easy steps or some charismatic figure’s dogma. A flourishing life depends on our responding, as best we can, to those things uniquely incumbent on us.
To live an extraordinary life means we must elevate our moral stature by culturing our character. The untrained brood about the constituent elements of their lives. They waste precious time in regret or wishing their particulars were different (“If only I lived in a better house or town, had a different spouse, a more glamorous job, more time to myself…”). The morally trained, rather than resenting or dodging their current life situations and duties, give thanks for them and fully immerse themselves in their duties to their family, friends, neighbors, and job. When we succumb to whining, we diminish our possibilities.
The overvaluation of money, status, and competition poisons our personal relations. The flourishing life cannot be achieved until we moderate our desires and see how superficial and fleeting they are.
The Art of Living
By Epictetus, Translated by Sharon Lebell