Project Stoicism: The Virtue of Temperance

Temperance may well be the virtue most relevant in our time for every day life. Temperance is defined as moderation or voluntary self-restraint.

In a world where we are constantly bombarded with advertising and we are under constant pressure to have X in order to be cool, respected, en vogue etc. exercising temperance becomes and almost revolutionary act.

You do not need X to be en vogue. You do not need Y to be manly or Z to be a real woman.

Zeno of Citium
Zeno of Citium, father of Stoicism

Being anything is within you, no outside factor, much less something you can purchase, can change this. The only thing owning something makes you is an owner, and herein lies the danger: If you define yourself by your possessions and make your happiness dependent on the things you own, you will never be happy.

Do not get me wrong, I do not say we should be happy without possessions, everybody likes a warm place to sleep, comfortable clothes and good food on the table, but going down consumerism lane is dangerous. If you say I will be happy once I have a better gaming computer for example, this happiness will evaporate in a year. New games with higher demands for hardware will be published and you will need a new computer. Your happiness that depended on your old computer is gone, never to return.

Things you purchase can not give you lasting happiness. You have to find this happiness within yourself. By practicing temperance, you cut yourself loose from our consumerism-driven world and liberate yourself, saving your purse at the same time.

But temperance goes further than that:
It also means to restrain yourself in your thoughts and actions. Be gentler in the way you act and the way you think. Do not be arrogant or boisterous.

This is what one of the great sages of our age has to say on the matter:

To answer power with power, the Jedi way this is not.

Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed, that is.


Temperance is not only a stoic virtue, it is also a Jedi virtue.

May the force be with you!