Sunday morning Stoic: Civic goals and your gift

Meditations 11.21:

“If you don’t have a consistent goal in life, you can’t live it in a consistent way.” Unhelpful, unless you specify a goal.

There is no common benchmark for all the things that people think are good—except for a few, the ones that affect us all. So the goal should be a common one—a civic one. If you direct all your energies toward that, your actions will be consistent. And so will you.

I keep being reminded of the emptiness of the pursuit of self-centered goals.

“What do I want to be, do, have, accomplish…?”

It’s natural to think this way and can be useful in propelling you forward. But in the long run, this mindset ends up feeling petty and superficial and ultimately uninspiring.

“I want a car, a house, a spouse…” Then what? A bigger car? A bigger house? A bigger spouse?

If you turn your focus outward instead, you will come up with more compelling goals, goals that are civic and ripple into the common good, not just your own good.

Ask, “What can I give?” rather than “What do I want?”

What can you contribute that will benefit others? How can you make a difference that elevates your community or solve a problem that pushes us forward?

What is your gift?