Philosophy Friday: Don’t Expect This
You let another driver into your lane, but you didn’t get the friendly wave. You turned around a colleague’s failing project, yet they don’t mention your input. You gave up a lunchtime to hold a training presentation—and everyone took it for granted.
We have done a good thing for others, yet we want more. We crave gratitude, credit, recognition—and we’re upset when we don’t receive it.
“When you’ve done well and another has benefited by it, why like a fool do you look for a third thing on top—credit for the good deed or a favour in return?” — Marcus Aurelius
Two thousand years ago, Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius wrote how we don’t need this ‘third’ thing—acknowledgement and thanks. You’ve done someone a good turn; you were a decent human being. And that’s enough. Be content to leave it at that.
Virtue is still virtue even when there is no applause.
“Does an emerald lose its beauty for lack of admiration?” — Marcus Aurelius
In any case, whether people thank us is not in our power. It’s futile to get upset about something outside of our control—yet another powerful ancient philosophical idea.
“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people but care more about their opinion than our own.” — Marcus Aurelius
Were you happy with your actions? Yes. Applaud yourself—no one can take that from you. Don’t expect it from others.