The Choice of Hercules

Regarding Hercules versus the choice of taking the easy path versus the hard path. I came across this story in reading “How to think like a Roman emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius” by Donald Robertson. An excerpt of that story can be found on this link. Below are some quotes that struck me.

“Chasing empty, transient pleasures can never lead to true happiness in the long run.”

“His labors embodied their belief that it’s more rewarding to face hardship voluntarily and cultivate strength of character than to take the easy option by embracing comfortable living and idleness.”

“Epictetus tells his students that just as Hercules cleansed the earth of monsters—without complaining—they should set about conquering themselves by purging the base desires and emotions from their hearts.”


My take:

It can be summarized as the following: Love what you have! We all spend so much time chasing the next thing that we forget what we have. When we have a desire wash over us, we need to step back and let it pass. Personally, I fail at this all the time, that doesn’t mean that I should stop trying! Also, the easy way is not the best way.

For today, think about what you are obsessing over and focus on putting that decision off until tomorrow. I’ll leave you with two thoughts to ponder from my reading in October 2020:

“It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.”

Do you ask what is the proper limit to wealth? It is, first, to have what is necessary, and, second, to have what is enough.


One thought on “The Choice of Hercules

  1. I find the stoic focus on embracing adversity as opportunity for growth super interesting. Suffering is inevitable. You don’t need to seek it out, but when small aggravations come along we would all do well to take it as a chance to become a better version of yourself.


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