2,000 year old philosophy that reminds us how fleeting life is, why we should guard our time more than anything else, how to cope with hardship and how to find peace and tranquillity.
On the Shortness of Life
- We are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it.
- As soon as it comes to squandering time, people are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.
- Indeed the state of all who are preoccupied is wretched, but the most wretched are those who are toiling not even at their own preoccupations, but must regulate their sleep by another’s, and their walk by another’s pace, and obey orders in those freest of all things, loving and hating. If such people want to know how short their lives are, let them reflect how small a portion is their own.
- Life will follow the path it began to take, and will neither reverse nor check its course. It will cause no commotion to remind you of its swiftness, but glide on quietly. It will not lengthen itself for a king’s command or a people’s favor. As it started out on its first day, so it will run on, nowhere pausing or turning aside.
- The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.
Consolation to Hevia (Senea’s letter to his mum when he was exiled)
- Everlasting misfortune does have one blessing, that it ends up toughening those whom it constantly afflicts
- Two things will accompany us wherever we go, universal nature and our individual virtue, can never be taken away
- The body’s needs are few: it wants to be free from cold, to banish hunger and thirst with nourishment, if we long for anything more we are exerting ourselves to serve our vices, not our needs.
- Is it not madness and the worst form of derangement to want so much though you can hold so little?
- The man who restrains himself within the bounds set by nature will not notice poverty, the man who exceeds these bounds will be pursued by poverty however rich he is.
- We are naturally disposed to admire more than anything else the man who shows fortitude in adversity.
On Tranquillity of Mind
- If you apply yourself to study, you will be neither a burden to yourself nor useless to others, you will attract many to become your friends and the finest people will flock about you.
- We must take a careful look at ourselves, then at the activities which we shall be attempting, then at those for whose sake and with whom we are attempting them.
- In choosing our friends for their characters we shall take care to find those who are the least corrupted: mixing the sound with the sick is how disease starts
- A companion who is agitated and groaning about everything is an enemy to peace of mind
- Those people are more cheerful whom Fortune has never favoured than those whom she has deserted
- Let all your activity be directed to some object, let it have some end in view
- We must indulge the mind and from time to time allow it the leisure which is its food and strength