I like the feeling of being useful. I like having goals and meeting them, be they mental or physical. I work long hours on projects that challenge me mentally, and I have fitness goals to fuel my body. I don't have a lot of spare time to do nothing, but I've found that doing nothing is a pretty terrible thing for my mental health anyway. I feel much better after a run than a day of lying about and playing video games. It's a state of mind the ancient Hellenes valued as well: they divided their time between education, philosophy, sports, combat training and,  of course, religious pursuits.

This type of life--a life in service of providing for your family and bettering yourself was called, by Latin poet Albius Tibullus (c. 55 BC – 19 BC)  the 'True Life'. His poem, The True Life is one of my favorite ancient writings. It always puts a smile on my face and relaxes me. I'd like to share parts of it with you today. The start first, as that's the part that relaxes me so much:

Let other men gather bright gold to themselves
and own many acres of well-ploughed soil,
let endless worry trouble them, with enemies nearby,
and the peals of the war-trumpets driving away sleep:
let my moderate means lead me to a quiet life,
as long as my fireside glows with endless flame.

If only I might now be happy to live with little,
and not always be addicted to distant journeys,
but avoid the rising Dog-star’s summer heat
in the shade of a tree by a stream of running water.

Nor be ashamed to take up the hoe at times
or rebuke the lazy oxen with a goad:
or object to carrying a ewe-lamb home
or a young kid deserted by its mother.

Then another reminder, one perhaps even more important than the one above, which serves as a reminder to be humble and grateful for what one has.

Gods, be with me, and do not scorn what’s given
from a humble table in pure earthenware.
The cups were earthenware the ancients made,
at first, themselves, from ductile clay.

I don’t need the wealth of my forefathers,
that the harvest brought my distant ancestors:
a little field’s enough: enough to sleep in peace,
and rest my limbs on the accustomed bed
What joy to hear the raging winds as I lie there
holding my girl to my tender breast,
or when a wintry Southerly pours its icy showers,
sleep soundly helped by an accompanying fire!