The ancient Stoics were some of the best thinkers and philosophers of their time. They poured their hearts and minds into critically thinking about the world we live in, and how to best take part in it. Thankfully so, because much of their wisdom is just as applicable today as it was centuries & centuries ago. Seneca is one of the staples in the Stoicism world. Though he died a tragic and disputed death, his legend lives on through the words that he spoke. Here’s nine Seneca quotes that might be the lift you need.
“Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.”
The ancient interpretation of YOLO (You Only Live Once). Imagine your life compacted into a single day. That day is today. What do you want to do with it? Adventure? Love? Fun? Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for any of us, so there’s no point in waiting around for it. Lets start living today.
“As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is but how good it is that matters.”
When we think of our lives in the terms of story, it helps us write a book worth reading. And in this story we have the opportunity to be the hero. The good guy, not the villain. We can’t rewrite any of the chapters that we’ve already written, but we can rewrite the ending.
“A man is as miserable as he thinks he is.”
The power of the mind is one of the most under appreciated aspects of human happiness. Beyond providing for our basic needs – shelter, food & safety – happiness is a choice. We get to wake up every single day and decide if we’re going to be happy or not. When we choose not to be happy, we’re letting outside factors dictate our emotions. Choose happiness.
“You must live for another if you wish to live for yourself.”
Ghandi. Mandela. Mother Theresa. None ever said “I wish I would have spent more of my time living for myself.” The act of giving back is an indirect way of giving to ourselves. We become the true recipients of living for others, and it’s a win-win for everyone. When it comes to the what we offer the world, think from 2nd place.
“If you judge, investigate.”
As the scripture goes, “Why worry about a speck in someone else’s eye when you have a log in your own.” If we want to judge, let’s judge ourselves. We all have our faults. We all have our weaknesses. Let’s not pretend anyone else’s are worse than our own.
“A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.”
The only way to learn that a stove is really hot is by burning ourselves on it. The only way to learn how to avoid failure is to have failed many times before. When we find ourselves at the bottom, we teach ourselves how to climb out. Trials and friction don’t just help us along they way – they are the only way.
“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.”
Everyone is fighting their own battle, much like we are fighting our own. When life makes it easy to snap, or to judge, or to get angry, just remember that we do not know where the other person stands in their life currently. Approach them with kindness and we just might change their day.
“It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.”
There will always be a nicer car. A bigger house. A fancier vacation. When we continue to strive for that next best thing, we can never be happy with what’s right in front of us. Being thankful is the cornerstone of happiness. Love what you have, and you’ll never need a thing more.
I don’t consider myself bald. I’m just taller than my hair.”
Even the Stoics knew how to crack a joke and not take themselves too seriously. At the end of the day, we’re a tiny speck on the time lapse of history. We might as well have a little fun while we’re here. Life becomes much easier when we get comfortable with the fact that no one is perfect. When we do that, we realize that in our imperfections, we are perfectly ourselves.