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Ian O'Byrne

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run. - Henry David Thoreau In issue of my newsletter. Subscribe at #cost


Ian O'Byrne

How to have a good life and be happy

2 min read

On the fourth day of Stoic Week 2016, we are asked to clarify our selection of vritues in our life and actions. The handbook and daily prompts are available here.

Today's reflection comes from Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 3.6:

If you find anything in human life better than justice, truthfulness, self-control, courage... turn to it with all your heart and enjoy the supreme good that you have found...but if you find all other things to be trivial and value less in comparison with virtue give no room to anything else, since once you turn towards that and divert from your proper path, you will no longer be able without inner conflict to give the highest honour to that which is properly good. It is not right to set up as a rival to the rational and social good [virtue] anything alien its nature, such as the praise of the many or positions of power, wealth or enjoyment of pleasures.

In this he is suggesting that philosophy, or the love of wisdom, primarily centers on the core virtues of wisdom, justice, moderation, and courage. We should value these virtues in our own behaviors and those of others. 

We only need to focus on these aspects to have a good life, and experience genuine fulfillment. In short, to have a good life, be a good person.

You might ask yourself about the other things we use to measure how good and happy we are. What about health, family, personal wealth, and property? Surely the new phone, or a shiny car will improve my quality of life.

The stoics believe that the four virtues are a complimentary set that allow us to live well, deal with others, manage emotions and desires. These four virtues are:

  • Wisdom
  • Courage
  • Justice
  • Temperance

These four virtues are an ideal and something we should strive for each day. If you have focus on these four in your interactions throughout the day, and your life, everything else will work itself out. 


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Ian O'Byrne

April 5, 2016

2 min read

Your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person - a real person you know, or an imagined person - and write to that one. - John Steinbeck

As we create, it's important to identify and speak to a specific audience. Identify one person that you know would value or connect with your words or content. Find one specific person that your message would resonate with. Your words and content should be directed specifically to them. 

There is no need for archetypes, or people "just like them." That's what algorithms, and Facebook or Google ads are for.

Your job is to think about that one person. What are their needs and wants? What are their desires? What are their pain points?

Most likely, you're in the position that you're currently speaking from because you're just like that person. You are that person before you went on this life journey and you now have this new perspective or expertise.

Speak to that one individual that you once were...and now you can connect with them.

Find and speak to that one person. In the end, you'll see that it's more than one person. There are many behind them. But, first identify and speak to them. And then continue to focus and address that individual.