Stoic Letters
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Stoic Letters

Why you shouldn’t waste time — Letter 1

Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored. — Earl Nightingale

In this publication I translate the Moral letters to Lucilius by Seneca into modern English. In Letter 1, Seneca suggests why time is our most important commodity.

Our days are often filled with things we have to do. And the things we do to comfort ourselves from the stress and tiredness from doing what we have to do … so we end up putting off what we really want to do.

Think about that for a second: our days are filled with have to do stuff, and comforting stuff. With very little room for things we love to do.

When will we find time to do what we love? When things calm down, when the visitors leave and the trips we have planned are finished and the holidays are over and this busy project is wrapped up and the kids are grown up and we’re retired? Maybe when we’re dead there will be more time.

There will never be more time. Things are not going to change, get calmer or less busy. There will always be projects, trips, chores, errands, visitors, holidays, illness and death. What we’ve been stuck in for the last few months, the last few years — that’s exactly how life goes.

Time: the only thing that belongs to us

How we use the hours we have on Earth when alive is the only thing that belongs to us. And using this limited amount resource well is the most important thing we can do.

Time is not “ours” as such. The difference between the time we have or don’t have is not the same as say, the money we have or don’t have. The amount of money you have fluctuates. Not only do you not know how much time you have but when you lose all your time you have nothing. Once a day of your life is gone, then it’s gone. It will never return.

It’s ironic then that the people who realise this are the ones who have used up the majority of their time. These people have used their experience to decide that it was the thing they should have valued the most.

People who think they have lots of time left, tend not to have this insight. They believe that death is a distant event. But death simply means to lose your life, and this happens continually.

Take care.

Read the original text here.

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash



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Robert Thompson

Robert Thompson


Big ideas and important articles. Writing to help you make sense of the world. And cope with being human.