Seneca has been my favorite philosopher since I was a child. Even though I have not always been successful in following his philosophy, I believe it can make everybody’s life better. While to understand many philosophers, you may need to resort to a cheap essay writing service, as they can be too abstruse, with Seneca everything is quite simple.
Anybody can read and understand him. No matter what your cultural, social and educational background is, works like “Letter from a Stoic” are bound to change your life. So, if you’ve got some free time and a desire to gain new insights, go for Seneca. This article is just a brief overview of what this wiseman can teach you.
Let Go of the Past, No Fear for the Future
Seneca believes that the disappointments of the past bind your spirit. This is a reason why you should always try to let go of your previous mistakes. He also notes that all the fears stem from the past, affecting the quality of the future. Thus, focusing on the present should be your main prerogative, even if it is really hard.
This ties to the modern psychology of failure. When people fail, they either overpower themselves and move on, or they get stuck in a loop of regret and constant rumination. I myself am very sensitive to the negative in my life, and it is very hard for me to push myself to keep going.
Seneca teaches you not to get caught up in the loop. Of course, nobody is immune to feeling sad after a bad event, but strong people can persevere beyond their emotions. They understand that failure is inevitable and reversible in the future. And even if it’s not, you can be happy with what you’ve already got.
Seneca’s philosophy is very individualistic. He believes that all people should strive for self-development in every aspect of their life. He goes so far as to suggest that any activity which does not help you evolve is not worth pursuing.
This resonates very much with my own philosophy in life. I had a bunch of menial jobs which only ate away my time. They did not make me a better person. On the contrary, they prevented me from gaining the knowledge and skills I deemed necessary.
Now I am lucky to have a job which helps me develop every single day. I feel like I am not making concessions in my life anymore. I live as I want, just like Seneca bequeaths. So, if your occupation brings you nothing but money, it’s high time you started looking for something different.
Love Thy Neighbor
Despite his high regard for self-development, Seneca also believes in the duty to serve others. This, in his opinion, was the only excuse to put aside your books and do something that may not necessarily enlightening but will help others in need.
“Live for your neighbor”, he says. Seneca advocates for an active social and political life, as the state, in his view, was the ultimate moral compass. He, like Plato, considers that philosophers should be the ruling class because they possess the virtues of a true leader.
Of course, it is hard not to be skeptical of such pompous statements, as Seneca himself never thought about the happiness of his slaves or women. However, you should just excuse him here. The times were different, and it is still possible to adapt his philosophy to a contemporary life.
I find this guidance very helpful anyway because I often bury myself in work and forget about the people I love. Seneca believes this is not the right way, as philosophy should first of all be practical and applicable in the current social and political reality.
Live in the Now
Seneca wisely notes that many people toil their life away without ever enjoying it. They think they would do it later. They just need to make an “X” amount of money, buy one more house, strike more deals – and they will be happy. Unfortunately, when everything is finished, there is no more time left.
Time is the most precious and yet undervalued commodity. When I went to college, I often felt like I was wasting it. Not only because the classes I took proved useless in the work setting, but also because I did not allow myself to live as I wanted, taking a raincheck on my hopes, dreams and aspirations.
The problem is that the future may never come. You cannot spend all your life preparing yourself to live. Your life is happening right now, whether you like it or not. That is why going to college, having a demanding job or a big family should never be an excuse. There are no better times. This is as good as it gets.
People Are Insatiable
If only I had more money… Everybody might have such thought at least once in their life. Seneca claims that money cannot buy you happiness. It may sound hypocritical coming from a rich man, but just look around. Do you feel like those billionaires you see on TV are satisfied with their financial status?
The thing with people is that they always want more. Once you get a million, you will strive for a billion. Once you get a house, you will want a mansion. This cycle will never end unless you break it with a conscious mental effort. Your standards will always rise unless you make them stop.
It is important to appreciate the little that you have. Of course, if you are subsisting, it only makes sense to look for better income sources. But if you are a regular middle-class person living in the developed country, you’ve got to reconsider your attitude to wealth. Perhaps, it’s time to stop and smell the roses.
Hopefully, Seneca will help you become happier in life. This is the whole point of philosophy after all.