Aristippus, a man who had studied with Socrates, was known for being able to wear any outfit with dignity.
Whether it was a threadbare cloak, or a fine robe from Miletus (a noted fashion center), he leaned into it, and somehow managed to make it look cool.
Part of his secret was his nonchalance.
But it wasn’t just some attitude that he picked up from a painting or a song, some cheap swagger. He came all the way from Cyrene, a Greek city in Libya, to study at Athens with Socrates.
He even ended up founding his own school.
Aristippus once lost a beautiful plot of land in some shady business. Many friends and acquaintances were coming to him to express their condolences. What a terrible tragedy.
Aristippus asked one of them, “Isn’t it true that you have only one small bit of land, while I have three farms remaining?”
When the man agreed that this was so, Aristippus said, “Should’t it rather be me who condoles with you, then?”
Aristippus knew how to keep those two most difficult principles in balance: detachment and gratitude.
He could enjoy the good things in life, precisely because he wasn’t insecure about losing them.
He was very good at the strategy of reframing, which we discussed in our most recent “moralia” episode.
It’s a strategy important not just for maintaining Tranquillity of Mind, but for leaders and executives. Reframing is the essence of the “pivot” – you must begin by questioning your assumptions about the present moment.
It’s something Eumenes of Cardia did very well, check out our episodes on him.