6 Steps to a Happy Life
After I finish Seneca’s book about life, I decided to write about. Seneca is a stoic philosopher and stoicism is an ancient school of philosophy. Seneca is famous with his thoughts on how to live a happy life.
Senaca was considered a pretty wise individual in his time. But what makes him interesting is he has very interesting thoughts on things like happiness, anger, and the shortness of life. His thoughts are taken directly from his essay which he wrote around the 1st century.
Seneca says as humans we all desire to live happily. But he says our minds are blinded to a clear vision of just what it is that makes us happy. So, how do we actually live happily and what makes life happy is the ultimate question here.
Seneca had some tips to live a happy life and I will share the first 6 tips here.
1 Know where you are going. Seneca views the happy life as kind of a path. It’s a path in life and you can’t actually follow that path unless you actually know where you’re going and unless you know what that end goal is. This doesn’t just apply to happiness, this also applies to all areas of life as well.
Setting goals for yourself… You can actually set goals for yourself if you know what you want. So the Seneca happiness is a path and what you have to do is find the right path that leads to your happiness. So this leads to step number two.
2 Find a Guide. The second tip on how to live a happy life is to find a guide in life on the path to happiness. Seneca says finding the right path is hard, however, it’s even harder to stay on that path. And even when you’re on the path, it’s really easy to wander, it’s easy to get lost, and it’s easy to go backward. We wander aimlessly when we have no guide. Here is a passage from his book:
“Let us, therefore, decide both upon the goal and upon the way, and not fail to find some experience guide who has explored the region towards which we are advancing; for the conditions of this journey are very different from those of most travel…”
This is interesting because this is very similar to what a lot of entrepreneurs say how to be successful in life today. If you ask any successful person on how to be successful, they’ll tell you one of the key components is to find a mentor. And the reason for this is because when you find a mentor, you’re able to learn from their mistakes without actually having to go through the mistakes yourself.
3 Don’t Follow the Crowd. The third tip on how to live a happy life is a very very big one for Seneca. According to him, your happiness belongs entirely to you and it belongs to your mind. So we shouldn’t ever follow the crowd especially when it comes to finding the right path. And he also says:
A lot of times in our lives we get caught up in this idea of thinking like everyone else thinking like a herd animal and we have the belief that the best things in life for us are the things that are most popular because everyone else is doing it because it seems good for everyone else that it’s also good for us.
Seneca was vehemently against this idea. He says happiness is not up for debate. He says:
Nothing, therefore, needs to be more emphasized than the warning that we should not, like sheep, follow the lead of the throng in front of us, traveling, thus the way that all go and not the way that we ought to go.
This makes the distinction between the path that everyone else goes versus the path that you should go. Never follow the path of others! Do what you think is best for you! You are the only one who knows what’s best for you. Your happiness belongs to your mind and your mind is the only thing under your control. And ultimately on a much deeper level, this is a very stoic ideal that your mind is ultimately the only thing that you can control in life. But when Seneca says don’t follow the crowd, he imagines this giant kind of mass of people like a mass of herd animals.
All humans are trying to step on each other’s heads and everyone’s trying to get ahead of the other person to end up being more successful.
Seneca calls this “the great crusher of humanity”. The reason for this is when everyone is stepping on each other’s head in this great crush and if one person were to fall, he also drags down others with them. We see this happening everywhere in life.
Never do something just because others are doing it. Do what you think is best always. Then you will live a much more happy life.
4 Trust your Judgment. It’s kind of ironic, oftentimes we’re much more willing to trust the opinions of our neighbors than ourselves. And we oftentimes follow the examples of others instead of following our own judgments. And Seneca says that is what leads to our destruction. All that you have to do is instead of following the examples of others, you have to free yourselves from the opinions of others. And only by doing this will we be made whole. And this related to not following the crowd as well. Don’t follow the crowd and when you free yourself from the crowd, you can start finding new levels of happiness and new paths that you have never known existed.
5 Have a Clear Mind. The Stoics believe that there is a higher order to the universe than a natural order. To live, we must live in harmony with this order. According to Seneca, a happy life is a life that’s in harmony with its own nature. You have to get in touch with yourself, know who you really are, and live in accordance with who you are.
Here, I am not talking about your body and the stuff you own, your job, or even what you do. But they’re really talking about who you are on a deep level, who are you really. Ask yourself that question and do what you have to do in order to really know yourself and to know your mind. Your mind is really the only thing that you have complete control over. And no one else can have control over your mind. According to some other Stoics, they say people may be able to touch your body but they’ll never be able to touch your mind or your soul. So, one of the key secrets to living a happy life Seneca thinks is to have a sound mind that’s in constant possession of its own sanity. And if you can do this then, as a result, you don’t let others define you.
6 Be Youthful (but not carefree). Seneca says our minds must be courageous and energetic and tt the same time it should be ready for every emergency. He always describes the man who lives the happy life and he says a happy person burns and shines like a flame but is not careless or reckless.
A happy person is also free from the anxiety of petty things. And that person loves all aspects of life but doesn’t rely on them. And again the reason why he loves all aspects of life and is free from the anxiety of petty things is that he/she has control over his mind. And that’s the only thing he can control. And everything else all other aspects of life those is external to you and you can’t control them. So you must be willing to love them, however, at the same time don’t rely on them for your happiness. Your happiness comes from your mind and that’s something that only you have control over. And that’s a very very important idea in both stoicism and Senecas writings as well.
This is the first part of my article. I will write the rest of it later.