What would it be like if you were perpetually stoic?
What if nothing bothered or troubled you?
What if you were calm? No matter what…
If this state of being sounds appealing, it may very well be something to strive toward.
But then again, it might not…
Ataraxia is a “lack of disturbance or trouble.”
Here’s more on ataraxia from Wikipedia.
And depending on what you read, ataraxia was an important thread that ran through at least 3 - maybe 4 - of the ancient schools of philosophy.
In this Psychology Today article, author Neel Burton explains how ataraxia was part of the philosophical ideologies of cynicism, stoicism, skepticism, and epicureanism.
On the contrary, this Medium article from Steve Gambardella explains the role of ataraxia in just 3 of the “Hellenistic” schools of philosophy: stoicism, epicureanism, and skepticism.
In each of the 2 articles linked above, you can get an idea of how ataraxia is both considered and pursued based on the underlying philosophy.
But before we tumble any further down this path of ancient philosophy and the idea of ataraxia, let me bring it back to a more relevant context.
Many people - maybe you - worry about their money.
Paying for their kids’ or grandkids’ college.
And the list goes on…
For some, there is a constant, low-level worry.
For others, I get the sense there are periods of little-to-no worry sometimes interrupted by bouts of full-on worry and anxiety.
And while I’d love to tell you it’s a simple as not worrying about it, I think it’s much more involved.
You see, in addition to the concept of ataraxia, there’s also apatheia which translates to something like “without passions.”
And what’s life without passion?
And can you have a passion without the accompanying worry that you might not get to pursue or fulfill it?
Otherwise, is it really even a passion?
On one hand, you shouldn’t worry just for the sake of worrying.
But likewise, I can argue that there are things worth worrying about.
I think the important differentiation here is exactly what it is you’re worrying about, right?
I truly believe people aren’t worried about money.
They’re actually worried about what they can or can’t do because of money (or the lack thereof).
In other words, they’re worried about not being able to live “passionately” through meeting their goals, hitting their priorities, and fulfilling their values.
But I’m not suggesting worry-free living is the answer here.
Instead, I think it’s a matter of focus:
What do you think?
Is the goal to be worry-free (ataraxia)?
I’m guessing you’re not trying to live a passion-free (apatheia) life.
But are you focusing on the right things?
Are you worried about worthwhile things?
Hit reply or leave a comment and share your thoughts:
That’s it for this week.
Thanks for reading.
And I invite you to forward this email to some of your friends, family, and other contacts. Maybe they’ll find my weekly emails helpful - or at least thought provoking.
Until next Wednesday,
Postscript: For this week's not-so-indie music track, give a listen to “Main Title” from the Scent of a Woman (a wonderful movie) original soundtrack. 🎵
Why indie music? Please read the Postscript of Issue #2 for context.