“The unrestricted person, who has in hand what they will in all events, is free. But anyone who can be restricted, coerced, or pushed into something against what they will is a slave.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 4.1.128b–129a
Take a look at some of the most powerful, rich, and famous people in the world. Ignore the trappings of their success and what they’re able to buy. Look instead at what they’re forced to trade in return—look at what success has cost them.
Mostly? Freedom. Their work demands they wear a suit. Their success depends on attending certain parties, kissing up to people they don’t like. It will require—inevitably—realizing they are unable to say what they actually think. Worse, it demands that they become a different type of person or do bad things.
Sure, it might pay well—but they haven’t truly examined the transaction. As Seneca put it, “Slavery resides under marble and gold.” Too many successful people are prisoners in jails of their own making. Is that what you want? Is that what you’re working hard toward? Let’s hope not.
Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman. “The Daily Stoic.”
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.