Deep thoughts from Seneca to help you avoid generally screwing your life up
You are living as if destined to live forever. Your own frailty never occurs to you. You don’t notice how much time has already passed, but squander it as though you had a full and overflowing supply.
Putting things off is the biggest waste of life. It snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today.
It is a small part of life we really live.
Life is long if you know how to use it. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing.
We are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill supplied but wasteful of it. Our lifetime extends amply if managed properly.
Men do not let anyone seize their estates, and if there is the slightest dispute about their boundaries they rush to stones and arms. But they allow others to encroach on their lives. You will find no one willing to share his money, but to how many does each of us divide up his life! People are frugal in guarding their personal property, but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.
You act like mortals in all that you fear and like immortals in all that you desire.
You must not think a man has lived long because he has white hair and wrinkles. He has not lived long, just existed long. He did not have a long voyage, just a long tossing about.
No activity can be successfully pursued by an individual who is preoccupied. Living is the least important activity of the preoccupied man.
If each of us could have the tally of his future years set before him, as we can of our past years, how alarmed would be those who saw only a few years ahead, and how carefully would they use them.
Everyone hustles his life along, and is troubled by a longing for the future and weariness of the present. But the man who organizes every day as though it were his last neither longs for nor fears the next day.
No one will bring back the years. No one will restore you to yourself. Life will follow the path it began to take, and will neither reverse nor check its course. It will cause no commotion to remind you of its swiftness, but glide on quietly. Meanwhile death will arrive, and you will have no choice in making yourself available for it.
Life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future.
It is inevitable that life will be not just very short but also very miserable for those who acquire by great toil what they must keep by greater toil. They achieve what they want laboriously; they possess what they have achieved anxiously; and meanwhile they take no account of time that will never more return.
It is better to understand the balance sheet of one’s own life than that of the corn trade.
In this kind of life you will find much that is worthy of study: the love and practice of virtue, forgetfulness of the passions, the knowledge of how to live and die well, and a life of deep tranquility.
What darkness can great prosperity cast over our minds!
Some people arrange things that are beyond life — massive tombs, dedications of public buildings, shows for their funerals, and ostentatious burials. But in truth, such peoples’ funerals should be conducted with torches and wax papers, as though they had lived the shortest of lives.