“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love”
Medications, Marcus Aurelius
The death of Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, from fire-related injuries in his Connecticut home, is yet another object lesson in a long line of examples provided by the rich and famous who succumbed to drugs, alcohol and self-destructive behavior.
Despite having fame, wealth and the opportunities that these brought to do practically whatever they wanted, the choices that these people made is indicative of the lack of a moral compass in their lives. When presented with the choice of how to spend their time and money, their answer was self-indulgence and an ever escalating chase for “happiness” for themselves.
Contrast these individuals with Marcus Aurelius, the Stoic Roman emperor who also had a life of wealth and privilege. He spent his life serving the Roman people and empire, including leading many of the military campaigns against the rivals who threatened Rome. Throughout his life, he led a relatively austere existence, actively working to avoid the temptations that his position offered.
The lessons are clear and reenforced daily in the news. Success can be a drug – don’t mistake success as confirmation of your talents. For every person of wealth and success, there are countless others who fortune has not blessed, who were equally capable and yet have nothing.
Whether you are blessed with success or not, use your existence to define and live a life of virtue, so that you are not tempted to chase success for the glorification of your vanity, and should you be blessed with it, that you do not squander the opportunities that it provides on yourself and your ego.