Duty, from the broad stoic definition, I think, can be made more specific to the individual. Outside of the basic stoic duty of living in accordance with nature—whatever that actually meant tothe Greek and Roman Stoics of the past—I believe that through analyzing my desires and motivations over the last few weeks I’ve been able to identify three core duties.
- Raise my kids right
- Provide appropriately for my family
- Design for positive societal impact
1. Raise my kids right
Probably my most important duty is to raise my children to be good, productive members of society. I have an opportunity to affect society greater than I could simply as an individual. If I don’t actually make a mess of my kids and I raise them well, with good manners, discipline, values and work ethic; then they can actually spread good at a greater rate. I recently read this article on raising kids to not be assholes, which was funny and had a bit of a satirical element to it, it is well written and had some good points reminding parents to teach good manners and common sense.
2. Provide appropriately for my family
I certainly have a duty to provide for my family a home and environment that is safe and loving and as best of a quality of life as possible. It’s in this duty that I find motivation to stay in the “rat race” and fuel a drive to push myself forward. To provide best for my family I believe I need to be the best I can; which is more than enough reason to work 9–5 and to strive to learn more and improve myself as much as possible. Obviously life could be simpler if I were selfish and didn’t care for my family but I made the choice to build this family and I take this responsibility seriously.
3. Design for positive societal impact
I’m fortunate to have found a passion for design and have a job I enjoy. I drew as a child, learned desktop publishing, HTML, Flash and CAD during High School and later went on to study Business and Interdisciplinary Design. I identify as a designer and am proud of the skills I have and my accomplishments. This may not be the proper stoic thing to value but for now I do. I feel then, that it is my duty to use my skills and knowledge in design to contribute positively to society.
There ins’t anything inherently wrong with working in client services—in fact I feel rather strongly about helping small, local businesses succeed. There is; however, the risk of doing work that may contradict my primary goals. As I have been exploring the philosophy of Stoicism and the concept or lifestyle of Mustachianism my consumption patterns and desires have been changing, and I’m getting a clearer picture of my actual values and would like to make a positive difference at any scale.
For now I am satisfied to work a job that I enjoy, with people I enjoy working with for clients who are trying to achieve their business goals. Long term I believe I will need to explore the idea of producing some of my own work as well as teaching or mentoring.
Since defining these duties, I have found comfort in knowing they are there. These duties act as reminders to stay on course to living a better life and being a better person. When things start to go sideways; say I’m getting frustrated or stressed because my work load is piling up, which translates to less sleep I need to remember my duty to my kids and wife to remain positive and not take my stress out on them; I wouldn’t want to compromise my kids and teach them it’s ok to vent frustration at others not responsible or to change the environment of our home to one of anger.