Seneca's Stoicism: The Epitome of Patience, Empathy and Purpose in Life
Seneca the Younger’s Stoicism has been one of the most important schools of philosophical thought, and it provides values that can always be used in our way of life and daily habits. Of course, the most exciting fact is that it has its roots in ancient Greece and the Roman world, but that doesn’t limit its impact as a theoretical approach.
It’s always a way of becoming better and better, in addition to any modern concerns and problems that will be solved with the applications of stoicism. Nonetheless, this is a vast and general philosophical concept, and there have been books and encyclopedias written about stoicism. Therefore, if we want to be more concise, clear, and correct without analysis, we must have a specific goal and approach to the topic.
Top-10 Seneca’s Stoic Life Advice
Since many philosophers and other stoics were preaching the values of this topic, there is a need for specific approaches. The concise analyses have to commit to particular points so that the content doesn’t get too broad, containing too many generalities.
Therefore, the following article tries to portray all the concepts and the actual life values preached by stoicism from the viewpoint and the life advice Seneca gave to Rome’s public.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger (4 BC – 65 AD) or widely known as Seneca, was a Roman philosopher, orator, statesman, and most importantly, one of the most potent and vital stoics of his time. Therefore, his greatness and glory make it even more important that his work is analyzed extensively, and this is why we have to get straight to the point of this analysis.
Here are the ten most insightful stoic life advice from Seneca the Younger.
Seneca the Younger – Time & Silence
1. “Time is only short if you waste it.”
Preaching the importance of time management through the philosophical concept of a finite nature of life is short of giving a different explanation to the approach to life. According to Seneca, if you waste your time, this is where you will feel the end approaching.
2. “We suffer more in imagination than in reality.”
This is a massive statement for the people stressing over problems that they can solve any issues they cannot fix. Stop overthinking. You are always thinking of the worst-case scenario, which is why you never understand the reality, which is easier than it seems.
3. “Silence is a lesson learned through life’s many sufferings.”
Kind of like life advice, which famously states that “the loudest in the room is always the weakest.” Seneca the Younger predicted it. People who have seen the hardships of life, who have been part of the worst experience and have been able to translate them into lessons for the future, are the ones who don’t need to speak for themselves. They have learned the hard way that actions speak louder than words. So even if you haven’t been there, make sure you are prepared.
Seneca the Younger – Suffering Anticipation
4. “The man who has anticipated the coming of troubles takes away their power when they arrive.”
Going off the previous point, be ready for the worse. As per Seneca, don’t live carefree because the load of the problem you are called to face afterward will seem like a mountain, not a minor obstacle. Of course, it’s only a small problem when you are prepared mentally and physically.
5. “We should not, like sheep, follow the herd of creatures in front of us, making our way where others go, not where we ought to go.”
Politics is great. Practical and powerful rulers are essential. Political communities are critical for life. However, this is only mandatory when it allows you to use your voice and power to change the people that don’t care about you; incompetent politicians.
You shouldn’t follow a political leader like a sheep because he is a political leader. But on the other hand, you should make your way legally but with a ‘risk everything’ mindset. That’s when you do the right thing for yourself.
6. “Two elements must therefore be rooted out once for all – the fear of future suffering, and the recollection of past suffering; since the latter no longer concerns me, and the former concerns me not yet.”
Similarly, however, this quote is an essential one as well. Prepare yourself for future issues and problems, but at the same time, don’t stress over them too much. The future shouldn’t yet concern you, but you should get ready. Even though you learned from the past suffering, the past suffering shouldn’t bother you.
Seneca the Younger – Life Purpose
7. “No activity can be successfully pursued by an individual who is preoccupied …Living is the least important activity of the preoccupied man, yet there is nothing harder to learn.”
Don’t lose yourself in today’s world. Simple as that. Extensive busyness is the worst part of not enjoying living. Nothing is harder to learn to live, apart from not having time to practice and understand it.
8. “But the man who … organizes every day as though it were his last neither longs for nor fears the next day.”
Who would have thought that the original definition of the acronym YOLO (you only live once) would be deriving from the Stoicism of Seneca the Younger and his work in the field? It’s crazy, but it’s also essential to see how the conception of life might not have ever changed once in the universe’s entire history.
9. “So you must not think a man has lived long because he has white hair and wrinkles: he has not lived long, just existed long.”
Existing isn’t the same as living. Why? Because every single human being needs to have a purpose on the earth that we all live in. Just because you are getting older doesn’t necessarily mean that you are wiser.
People might not live by learning from their experiences. For Seneca the Younger, it’s even worse to regret your life because you existed without a bit of Aristotle in you. What does that mean? You didn’t have an end goal for your own life.
10. “You live as if you were destined to live forever; no thought of your frailty ever enters your head, of how much time has already gone by you take no heed.”
The last thing that this quote intends to do is leave you on a wrong note. This isn’t the reason why it’s there. The most valid reason is that it’s the most critical life advice in the entire document, based on our personal opinion.
Evaluation & Conclusion
Seneca the Younger makes it clear. We are all going to die. Whether we like it or not, every one’s life will end someday. The real reason for wasting your valuable time isn’t because you are a procrastinator, you think you have time, or you might be progressing more slowly. Unfortunately, we live in a society where we haven’t connected death to embracing the importance of life.
It’s not a positive aspect for most people, and we get it. Nonetheless, realizing what will happen will help you live life without regrets, bad days, lack of dreams, and devaluation of time.
If there’s one lesson that you will have to take from this article is that we have to embrace death even if it’s the most unfortunate event that it might occur.
We have to embrace it because it will teach us valuable lessons about the life we are living right now, and we will realize whether we want to become better or stagnant for the rest of our time on this spinning rock we live on.
Seneca: The Tragedies. Various translators, ed. David R. Slavitt. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2 vols, 1992–94. ISBN 978-0801843099, 978-0801849329
Seneca: Tragedies. Ed. & transl. John G. Fitch. Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, 2 vols, 2nd edn. 2018. ISBN 978-0674997172, 978-0674997189
Cunnally, John, “Nero, Seneca, and the Medallist of the Roman Emperors”, Art Bulletin, Vol. 68, No. 2 (June 1986), pp. 314–17
Di Paola, O. (2015), “Connections between Seneca and Platonism in Epistulae ad Lucilium 58”, Athens: ATINER’S Conference Paper Series, No: PHI2015-1445.
Fitch, John G. (ed), Seneca. Oxford University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0199282081. A collection of essays by leading scholars.
Gloyn, Liz (31 October 2019). Tracking classical monsters in popular culture. London. ISBN 978-1-78453-934-4. OCLC 1081388471.
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