In this way we shall arrive at the true end of man, happiness, through having attained the one and only good thing in life, the ideal or goal called arete in Greek and in Latin virtus…This, the summum bonum or ‘supreme ideal’, is usually summarized in ancient philosophy as a combination of four qualities: wisdom (or moral insight), courage, self-control and justice (or upright dealing). It enables a [person] to be ‘self-sufficient, immune to suffering, superior to the wounds and upsets of life…Even a slave thus armed can be called ‘free’, or indeed titled ‘a king’ since even a king cannot touch him.
In these words I see the reason I train, the reason I have cold showers and don’t drink, the reason I read and write and the reason I run my business the way I do.
Every moment of self-control, every act of courage and every kept promise is another expression of the virtue that leads to happiness. But it’s not the happy-clapper kind of happiness but a happiness that’s purposeful and rational and in service to a good greater than my needs.
When I die I want to be remembered as someone who acted with virtue and purpose.
Source: Introduction to Seneca: Letters from a Stoic (Penguin, 2004) by Robin Campbell.