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The Daily Stoic

We Can Find The Gift In It | Reduce Wants, Increase Happiness

The Daily Stoic
The Daily Stoic

We wrote an email over at Daily Dad (please subscribe if you haven’t!) recently which notes Robert F. Kennedy’s troubled childhood in the troubled Kennedy household. His family mourned the loss of his older brother. They put their hopes in his brother John. They fretted about his sister. His father thought that Bobby had little potential, that he wasn’t everything a young Kennedy should be, so the boy, as one Kennedy aide observed, was “overlooked.”

That was unfair. It must have been painful. Yet Kennedy’s biographer, Evan Thomas, would write that this turned out to be a gift, arguing that he “had been saved by neglect.” Because it meant Bobby didn’t have to deal with all the pressure. It let him develop at his own pace. It also allowed him to develop a conscience and an ability to empathize that most of the rest of the family lacked.

When we look at the life of Marcus Aurelius (if you want a biography try Lives of the Stoics or How To Think Like a Roman Emperor), we can see a similar pattern. His early days as a boy were defined by loss. His father, Verus, died when he was just three.

If you want to do more reading on these topics, we highly recommend Dying Everyday by James Romm (and we have a podcast with him on this topic). Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe is a great modern read on one of the biggest crimes of the 20th/21st centuries. And for more on the life of Seneca and Thrasea and some Stoics who did resist Nero, check out Lives of the Stoics (signed copies here).

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