He was an adviser to the Roman Emperor Nero. Philosopher Seneca was seen by Nero as brilliant.
As the centuries passed, Seneca’s teachings were passed on – and today, his words of wisdom are needed more than ever, as we try to navigate our lives in an ever increasingly complex world.
1. “A person’s fears are lighter when the danger is at hand.”
This seems like an odd thing to say. But Seneca knew that when we’re in the middle of a crisis, there isn’t any time to become afraid. Instead, we act. If only we could take this position always.
2. “If you wish to be loved, love.”
So simple. So effective. Once burned in a relationship, many of us tend to close down. We become less loving. But life is about risks and chances. While there are never any guarantees – one thing is true. If we open our heart to others, we’ll like ourselves more. The result will be heightened self-love.
3. “True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.”
How are you doing at this precise moment? You’re reading this article and reflecting upon its content. Enjoy this quiet moment. It will never be repeated. We must remind ourselves to appreciate the “here and now” because, at the end of the day, it’s all we really have.
4.“It is more fitting to laugh at life than to lament over it.”
Today, you may be in a troubled state. But if you can look at your life from 10,000 feet up – everything will seem less ominous, more manageable. We can smile, even laugh, at the strangeness of life. Be sure to laugh at least once every day.
5. “He who dreads hostility too much is unfit to rule.”
We expect everything to be perfect. Instead, Seneca wants us to expect everything to be less than perfect. In this way, we avoid disappointment and welcome all problems as challenges. In managing a team, a family, or even your own life – replace dread with neutrality and steadfastness.
6. “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.”
We often assume, wrongly, that people around us are doing just fine. But many people are living in quiet desperation. The smallest act of kindness can change their world.
7. “We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.”
These are comforting words from Seneca. The things we fear, our nightmares – are unlikely to ever become reality. Our own thoughts torture us more than real life. Good to remember this each day.
8. “Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.”
Pure luck is a misnomer. Seneca reminded us that luck is really the combination of good preparation and opportunity. Are you ready for the opportunities that will show themselves in your life? If you are – then you’ll be lucky.
In addition to being an adviser and philosopher, Seneca was also a playwright.
He wrote a series of plays with tragic endings, among them: “The Madness of Hercules” and “The Trojan Women”.
But in an ironic and cruel twist, Seneca would encounter his own tragedy. After retirement from consulting for Nero, Seneca was somehow caught up in a plot to kill Nero. While history has no evidence to suggest that Seneca actually wanted to kill Nero, the Emperor wasn’t taking any chances and ordered Seneca to kill himself, which he did.
Fortunately for us, the words of Seneca were preserved through all of time to help us lead our lives today with confidence and purpose.
© 2016 Cory Robert Galbraith, All Rights Reserved.