“This can be swiftly taught in very few words: virtue is the only good; there is no certain good without virtue; and virtue resides in our nobler part, which is the rational one. And what can this virtue be? True and steadfast judgment. For from this will arise every mental impulse, and by it every appearance that spurs our impulses will be rendered clear.”
—SENECA, MORAL LETTERS, 71.32
Think about someone you know who has character of granite. Why are they so dependable, trustworthy, excellent? Why do they have a sterling reputation?
You might see a pattern: consistency. They are honest not only when it’s convenient. They are not only there for you when it counts. The qualities that make them admirable come through in every action (“arise with every mental impulse”).
Why do we revere people like Theodore Roosevelt, for example? It isn’t because he was brave once, or courageous once, or tough once. It’s because those qualities are shot through every one of the stories about him. When he was young and weak, he became a boxer. When he was younger and frail, he went to a gym in his home, every day, for hours on end. When he was shattered by the loss of his wife and mother on the same day, he went to The Badlands and herded cattle. And on and on.
You become the sum of your actions, and as you do, what flows from that—your impulses—reflect the actions you’ve taken. Choose wisely.”
Excerpt From: Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman. “The Daily Stoic.”