Temperance is one of the 4 Stoic Virtues and is best summed up as a moderated, balanced and disciplined life.

For example whilst it’s undoubtedly good to work for a living, it’s not temperate to work all of the day, every day of the week. To do so means missing out on other things, such as time with friends, family, various entertainments and people who interest you. Likewise, not working at all is also not temperate. A man without an income is also liable to miss out on many things that make life worthwhile.

Work has to be balanced with rest, a tired worker represents poor value for money.

Meditation is a worthy goal, but if you spend too much time immersed in the beauty of the inner world, then you will not experience all of the richness that the outer world can offer.

Human beings have a tendency to swing from one extreme to another.  Temperance is simply the recognition and the desire to live a balanced life so that you are not quick to anger or so passive that others can take advantage of your weakness. That you do not rush to judgement or overthink your deliberations, or that you do not be overly excited frothing with joy and happiness only to suffer a disappointment that sends you into a bleak pit of despair.

Some people eat too much, others too little, a person concerned about their weight might swing from one extreme to the other. Yo-yo dieting is not temperance, but a disciplined approach that feeds the body without deprivation is temperate.

In simple terms, it’s the desire and willingness to live a balanced life. Events come and go, but our reaction to them is what determines our reality, so we don’t need to swing from one end of the spectrum to the other.

“Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretence.”

Marcus Aurelius

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