Ah, the things that do attain.
Late one night, I shared a bottle of Żubrówka with a friend.
We talked about matters of great importance; life, meaning, and happiness — as one might do while getting experimentally intoxicated after a hard day’s work in the PR industry.
The next day, my friend sent me this email:
“My head hurts, but our conversation yesterday reminded me of this poem of Henry Howard,” he wrote. “I think you might like it.”
It became one of my favourite poems:
“My friend, the things that do attain
The happy life be these, I find:
The riches left, not got with pain,
The fruitful ground; the quiet mind;
The equal friend; no grudge, no strife;
No charge of rule nor governance;
Without disease the healthy life;
The household of continuance;
The mean diet, no dainty fare;
True wisdom joined with simpleness;
The night discharged of all care,
Where wine the wit may not oppress;
The faithful wife, without debate;
Such sleeps as may beguile the night:
Content thyself with thine estate,
Neither wish death, nor fear his might.”
Such a sensible path to wander — especially for those who subscribe to a Stoic philosophy of life as I do.
Happiness by way of the quiet mind, as it stands, might be the most ambitious of quests, so elusive and challenging to attain.
The poem was partially used (and read very well) in this episode of The Tudors:
Bonus Resource: The Stoic PR Professional
The Stoic PR Professional
I’m fascinated by Stoicism and I’m inspired by the idea of translating classical Stoic virtues (wisdom, courage, justice, temperance) and applying them to public relations:
The Wisdom Pitch
“A Stoic is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation, and desires into undertaking.”
— Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Tell stories of how organisations can be wise and overcome obstacles that have stopped others in their tracks.
Convey the PR message of how to apply wisdom, knowledge, and experience.
The Courage Pitch
” We cannot choose our circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.”
Tell stories of brands that never back down in the face of hardships that would lay waste to other organisations.
Convey the PR message of how an organisation can be righteous even when storms are raging.
The Justice Pitch
“Concentrate every minute on doing what’s in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly, with justice.”
— Marcus Aurelius
Tell stories of how organisations relentlessly can strive for honesty and transparency — even when it’s uncomfortable.
Convey the PR message of how all brands, without exception, can rid themselves of dishonesty and incompetence.
The Temperance Pitch
“It’s not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, who is poor.”
Tell stories of organisations that strive for higher values in a world where all other organisations suffer shortsightedness.
Convey the PR message of organisations prepared to abstain from short-term gains to make the world a better place for all.
Read also: Stoic Philosophy for PR Professionals