He places no part of his happiness in ostentation, but in the secret approbation of his conscience, seeking the reward of his virtue, not in the clamorous applauses of the world, but in the silent satisfaction which results from having acted well.

This wisdom is coming from Letters of Pliny. He speaks about a friend, Titus Aristo, that is always happy. And where does this happiness come from? Not in fame or fortune. But, as Pliny puts it…

“…in the silent satisfaction which results from having acted well.”

This is generally true.

Happiness is complex. And many factors can ruin your day…or even your life. Yet, as a general rule, the perspective of any man is resting in his conscience. It’s resting in his commitment to virtue, or in the knowledge that he’s on the correct Highway of Life.

The stoic wisdom of Ancient Rome is an irony. On one hand, it comes from people that have been dead for hundreds of years…men that are long forgotten. And yet, the wisdom they share is timeless—it speaks to the life of a modern man.

See Related Article: Pliny the Younger on the Value of Being Prolific

6 thoughts on “Happiness Often Lies in the Silent Satisfaction From Having Acted Well

  1. A short story to share an experience. Dr C and I ran an education charity in Nepal for 10 years to 2017. We had 8 staff, all well educated, young, Nepali women. I recruited them on the basis of their values, not their competence in education. I told them all that we would train them in all they needed to know, to never fear about making a mistake or getting something wrong. As long as they had “done the right thing” in line with our shared values all would be well. This was probably the best 10 years of my professional life as these young women grew to be some of the best, toughest, respected educationalists in Kathmandu. They held weekly reviews as a team every Friday afternoon, always reviewing their week to learn from problems, but always going home happy in the knowledge that they had acted well.

      1. Thank you. We were all lucky! The Weekly wrap up brought all together because they had been working in different schools during the week. The agenda was always, “what did I do this week, what have I learned, what do I need to change”. It was a very special learning environment and something I have only lately recognised and become proud of.

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