Five Life-Changing Quotes from Seneca | The Daily Stoic

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Key Takeaways

  • “No good thing is pleasant to possess without friends to share it with.”Seneca
  • We torture ourselves more than the thing we are worrying about ever could. 
  • Seneca talks about the importance of adversity, not only embracing it, but actively seeking it out so you can be better, stronger, and more prepared. 
  • “Just as some diseases jump over onto those we have touched, so the mind infects those closest to us with evils.” -– Seneca

Intro

Seneca’s Background 

  • “Would you really know what Philosophy offers humanity; Philosophy offers counsel.” – Seneca 
  • Born at the turn of the first millennium, during a time of paranoia, violence, and political turmoil, Seneca sought counsel, just as we all need counsel
  • Read widely and studied and discovered the school of Stoicism, which was founded only a few centuries before him
  • He found what he was looking for in Stoicism: guidance towards how to live a good life
  • “No good thing is pleasant to possess without friends to share it with.”Seneca

Approach to Five Quotes

  • The purpose of these quotes is not to simply pick apart the text and analyze it, looking for a more practical approach
  • “We look at the words so they can be translated into works.” – Seneca 
  • Ryan is unbiased in saying Seneca did not always live up to everything he read and wrote, but genuinely tried and did it much better than most

Quote #1: “There are more things likely to frighten us than there are to crush us… we suffer more in imagination than in reality.”

  • Seneca’s life was full of suffering: 
    • Born with chronic lung condition, exiled twice, lived through first five emperors (who were increasingly more deranged)
  • We torture ourselves in imagination more than the thing we are worrying about ever could
  • Pain is inevitable, we must avoid the phantom premonitions of what may or may not happen
  • Stay in the present, stay in reality

Quote #2: “Excellence withers without an adversary; as fire is the test for gold, so adversity is the test of strong men.”

  • We like to live comfortably, to minimize inconvenience, and to only seek out enjoyable tasks
    • Seneca said this is a kind of “deathtrap”
  • “A person who has never been challenged is a tragic figure… you pass through life without anyone knowing what you are capable of, even yourself.” Seneca
  • Seneca talks about the importance of adversity, not only embracing it, but actively seeking it out so you can be better, stronger, and more prepared
    • This mindset grants to push us rather than help us atrophy
      • When we go through challenges, we should be grateful for the challenge it presents and demonstrates our full potential

Quote #3: “Associate with those who will make a better man of you; welcome those whom you yourself can improve: the process is mutual for men learn as they teach.”

  • Jim Rohn’s widely quoted line: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”
  • James Altucher advises young writers and entrepreneurs to find their scene, who pushes them to be better
  • Goethe’s maxim is better – “Tell me whom you consort with, and I will tell you who you are”
  • “If there is one thing I am careful of it is who we surround ourselves with… I never bring home the same character that I took with me. There is no person who doesn’t unconsciously stamp themselves on us.”Seneca
  • We cannot be afraid to reach out to new people and make new friends
  • “Just as some diseases jump over onto those we have touched, so the mind infects those closest to us with evils.”Seneca

Quote #4: “Anger always outlasts hurt, best to take the opposite course… would anyone think it normal to return a kick to a mule or a bite to a dog?”

  • There are a lot of destructive beliefs out there, one of the most dangerous is that anger is fuel
  • Seen and said by athletes, professionals claim it fuels them to triumph
  • Anger destroys everything in its vicinity
  • Seneca claimed that anger is the ugliest and most savage of all emotions, no other plague has done more damage to humankind
  • Nothing great was truly fueled by anger, and if it was, then it is not truly great
  • “The foundation of greatness is strength and goodness.” – Seneca

Quote “5: “This is our big mistake, to think we look forward to death; most of death is already gone, whatever time has passed is owned by death”

  • Death was a common theme in Seneca’s writings
  • Balance the books of life each day
  • Death isn’t something that lay ahead of us, in the uncertain future, he realized we are dying everyday
  • “No day, no minute, no second once dead can be revived.” – Seneca
  • We waste a lot of time and our lives, the only path is to live immediately and fully
  • Go out and live now while you still can, do not wait, take it now and live. 

Additional Notes

The Daily Stoic : , , ,
Notes By Alex Wiec

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