Sometimes – and I speak from experience – you can drink yourself into a stupor, smack your head on the toilet seat throwing up on yourself, crawl off to bed, sleep for five hours, and wake up feeling pretty much daisy-fresh.
Other times, you can be stone-cold sober, enjoy a light and healthy dinner, avoid caffeine and blue light, go to bed at a reasonable hour, get more than the recommended eight hours of sleep, and still you wake up feeling like the Devil had his wicked way with you in your sleep.
It’s maddening, I know. But the lesson here is that no matter what lengths we go to in our quest for control over our lives, we are – more than we’d ever dare admit – in the hands of fate.
We can get seemingly everything wrong, and then by sheer, dumb luck, have everything turn out great. Or we can get everything as right as humanly possible, and for no particular reason, it can all go to shit.
So if there’s no guarantee that doing the right thing will even get us what we want, what’s the point? What’s there left to do?
Live well for its own sake.
If you’re only in it for the spoils, you’ve got it all wrong. Because the spoils might never come – it’s entirely up to the spoils themselves how often they visit. But if you can learn to play the game for the joy of playing, and make the spoils nothing more than a cherry on top, well now you’re cooking with gas.
You can put the numbers on your side – and I implore you to do so – but you can’t make the world do what you want it to. So just do your best for no other reason than because it’s the right thing to do.
So, you say, what good do I get [from virtue]? But what more good do you want than this? Instead of being a shameless man you will become a dignified man, instead of chaotic you will become organized, from being untrustworthy you will become trustworthy, instead of being out of control you will become sane. If you want anything more than this, keep on doing what you are already doing: not even a God can now help you.Epictetus (Discourses, 4.9)