Experiencing Joy in Life
Joy for human beings lies in proper human work. And proper human work consists in: acts of kindness to other human beings, disdain for the stirrings of the senses, identifying trustworthy impressions, and contemplating the natural order and all that happens when you keep it.
When dog trainers are brought in to work with a dysfunctional or unhappy dog, they usually start with the question: “Do you take the dog for walks?” They ask because dogs were bred to do certain tasks – to do work – and when deprived of this essential part of their nature, they suffer and act out. This is true no matter how spoiled and nice their lives might be.
The same is true for humans. When you hear the Stoics brush aside certain emotions or material luxuries, it’s not because they don’t want to enjoy them. It’s not because the Stoic life is one bereft of happiness or fun. The Stoics simply mean to help us find our essence – to experience the joy of our proper human work.
Background on Marcus Aurelius