Letters From A Stoic: Ultra Condensed Cliffnotes #17

Letters from a Stoic by Seneca

Below are my personal notes of Letters From a Stoic. These highlights were what I used to write my personal development book, Wiser Next Week, a condensation of many different self improvement books

  1. On Saving Time
    1. The most disgraceful type of loss is that due to carelessness. That large portion of our lives pass while we are doing ill, a goodly share while we are doing nothing, and the whole while we are doing that which is no the purpose.
    2. While we postpone life speeds by. Nothing, is ours except time
    3. Keep what is really yours, and you cannot begin too early… it is too late to spare when you reach the dregs of the cask. Of that on the bottom, the amount is slight and the quality vile
  2. On Discursiveness in Reading
    1. Each day acquire something that will fortify you against poverty, against death
  3. On True and False Friendship
    1. When friendship is settled you must trust, before friendship is formed you must pass judgement
    2. Regard him as loyal, and you will make him loyal (self fulfilling prophecy)
  4. On the Terrors of Death
    1. No man can have a peaceful life who thinks too much about lengthening it
    2. No good thing rendors its possessor happy, unless his mind is reconciled to the possibility of loss (fear)
    3. It is the superfluous things for which men sweat, that wear out togas threadbare, that force us to grow old in camp
  5. On the Philosophers Mean
    1. It is madness to avoid that which is customary and can be purchased at no great price. Philosophy calls for plain living, but not penance
  6. On Sharing Knowledge
    1. No good thing is pleasant to possess, without friends to share
  7. On Crowds
    1. Especially to be avoided? I say crowds… It is too easy to side with the majority. Instead, associate with those who will make you better. Welcome those whom you yourself can improve. The process is mutual for men learn while they teach
  8. On the Philosophers Seclusion
    1. Rule of Life: Indulge the body only so far as is needed for good health
  9. On Philosophy and Friendship
    1. Our ideal wise man feels his trouble, but overcomes them
    2. He who began to be your friend because it pays will also cease because it pays
    3. A self sufficient man’s natural promptings and not his own selfish needs draw him into friendship

XI. On the Blush of Modesty

  1. Such a habit is not due to mental weakness, but to the novelty of the situation

XII. On Old Age

  1. That man is happiest and is secure in his own possession of himself who can await the morrow without apprehension. When a man has said “I have lived!” every morning he aries, he receives a bonus

XIII. On Groundless Fears

  1. What does it avail to run out to meet your suffering? You will suffer soon enough when it arrives, so forward meanwhile to better things 
  2. Consider not how angy the enemy is, but to what lengths he may go if he is angry
  3. The fool is always getting ready to live

XIV On the Reasons for Withdrawing from the World

  1. Most murderers speculate on their profits than give vent to hatred
  2. He who needs riches least, enjoys riches most
  3. He who craves riches feels fear on their account, he ceases to be master and becomes a steward

XV. On Brawn and Brains

  1. It is indeed foolish and very unsuitable for a cultivated man to work hard over developing the muscles. For although your heavy feeding produce good results, you can never match either in strength or in weight a first class bull. 

XVI. On Philosophy, the Guide of Life

  1. Whatever is well said by anyone is mine. “If you live according to nature, you will never be poor, if you live according to opinion, you will never be rich.” Epicurus
  2. Nature’s wants are slight, the demands of opinion are boundless. 

XVII. On Philosophy and Riches

  1. “The acquisition of riches has been for many men, not an end but a change of troubles.” Epicurus

XIX. On Worldliness and Retirement

  1. A trifling debt makes a man your debtor, a large one makes him an enemy

XXVI. On Old Age and Death

  1. There is only one chain which binds us to life, and that is the love of life. The chain may not be cast off, but it may be rubbed away so that when necessity shall demand, nothing shall hinder us from being ready to do at once that which we are bound to do. 

XXVIII. On Travel as the Cure for Disease

  1. He who doesn’t know that he has sinned does not desire correction, you must discover yourself in the wrong before you can reform yourself

XXX. On Conquering the Conqueror

  1. He who does not with to die cannot have wished to live. For life is granted to us with the reservation that we shall die

XXXII. On Progress

  1. For such a life is not made happier for being longer

XXXIII. On the Futility of Learning Maxims

  1. It is one thing to remember, another to know. Remembering is merely safeguarding, knowing however, means making everything your own, it means not depending on the copy

XXXV. On the Friendship of Kindred Minds

  1. When you want to find out whether you have accomplished anything, consider whether you desire the same thing today as yesterday. A shifting of the will indicates that the mind is at sea, heading in various directions according to the course of the wind. But what is settled and solid does not wander. This is the blessed lot of the completely wise man. 

XXXVI. On the Value of Retirement

  1. In regards to knowledge, the young man must store up, the old man must use

XLIX. On the Shortness of Life

  1. I shall stop trying to escape from death and that life may cease to escape me. 
  2. The good in life does not depend upon life’s length, but upon the use we make of it

LI. On Baine and Morals

  1. If a man has once understood how great is the task which he has entered upon, he will see that there must be no dainty or effeminate conduct

LII. On Choosing Our Teachers

  1. Choose as a guide one whom you will admire more when you see him act then when you hear him speak
  2. Why do you take pleasure from being praised by men whom you yourself cannot praise (confirmation bias)
  3. You can tell the character of every man when you see how he gives and receives praise

LIX. On Pleasure and Joy

  1. We are unwilling to reform because we believe ourselves to be the best of men

LXI. On Meeting Death Cheerfully

  1. Dying well means dying gladly. See to it that you never do anything unwillingly
  2. The man that does something under orders is not happy, he is unhappy who does something against his will 

LXII. On Good Company

  1. The shortest path to wealths is to despise riches

LXIII. On Grief for Lost Friends

  1. Fortune has robbed us of one friend, but we have robbed ourselves of every friend whom we have failed to make

LXVI. On Various Aspects of Virtue

  1. Understand that the soul is not disfigured by the ugliness of the body, but rather that the body is beautified by the comeliness of the soul. 
  2. Every honourable act is voluntary. Alloy it with reluctance, complaints, cowardice or fear and it loses its best characteristic-self approval. 

LXVII. On Health and Endurance

  1. If bravery is desirable, so is patient endurance of torture, for this is part of bravery

LXVIII. On Wisdom and Retirement

  1. Many men pass by what is visible and peer after things hidden and concealed, a locked room invites thieves. Things which lie in the open appear cheap, they crave to burst in upon hidden things. It is best therefore not to vaunt ones retirement

LXIX On Rest and Restlessness

  1. On one dies except on his own day. You are throwing away none of your own time, for what you leave behind does not belong to you. 
  2. No man can lose very much when but a driblet remains
  3. How will a man take thought of his own end, if he craves things without end. 

LXXI. On the Supreme Good

  1. Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbour he is making for, no wind is the right wind. 
  2. The greater part of progress is the desire to progress

LXXIV. On the Virtue as a Refuge from a World of Distractions

  1. The quarrelling takes place where the prizes are

LXXVI. On Learning Wisdom in Old Age

  1. As long as you live, keep learning how to live

LXXVII. On Taking One’s Own Life

  1. You are a slave to men, you are a slave to your business, you are a slave to life. For life, if courage to die be lacking, is slavery (doctor story on Philosophy for Life)
  2. (If you feel living is forced, you’ll live in fear and serve life rather than it serving you)

LXXX. On Worldly Deceptions

  1. All that goes to make you a good man lies within yourself. 

LXXXI. On Benefits

  1. There is not a man who, when he has benefited his neighbor, has not benefited himself
  2. The rewards for all the virtues lie in the virtues themselves
  3. Your being grateful is more conductive to your own good than to your neighbor’s good
  4. You have had a great experience which is the outcome of an utterly happy condition of soul, to have felt gratitude
  5. He takes delight not so much in receiving the gift as in having received it, and this joy never perishes, it abides with him always
  6. We are deflected from the right course by riches, titles, power and everything which is valuable in our opinion but worthless when rated at its real value
  7. For they are not praised because they out to be desired but they are desired because they have been praised (social proof)

LXXXIII. On Drunkenness

  1. This is what makes us wicked: that no one of us looks back over his own life
  2. Secrets are not trusted to a habitual drunkard

LXXXVII. Some Arguments in Favor of the Simple Life

  1. For petty sacrilege is punished, but sacrilege on a grand scale is honoured

LXXXIX. On the Parts of Philosophy

  1. There are three division of philosophy, moral, natural and rational. The first keeps the soul in order, the second investigates the universe, the third works out the essential meaning of words
  2. What profits to you are many bed chambers? You sleep in one. No place is yours where you yourself are not

XCI. On the Lessons Drawn from the Burnings of Lyons

  1. All the works of mortal man have been doomed to mortality and in the midst of things which have been destined to die, we live
  2. We are unequal at birth, but equal in death

XCII. On the Happy Life

  1. What is the happy life? It is piece of mind and lasting tranquility
  2. How does a man reach this condition? By gaining a complete view of the truth, by maintaining, in all that he does, order, measure, fitness and a will that is inoffensive and kindly, that is intent upon reason… that commands love and admiration

XCIII. On the Quality, as Contrasted with the Length of Life

  1. You other friend departed in the bloom of his manhood. But he has fulfilled all the duties of a good friend, good citizen, good son, in no respect has he fallen short. His age may have been incomplete, but his life was complete. The other man has lived eighty years, has he? Nay, he has existed eighty years
  2. How long I am to exist is not mine to decide, but how long I shall go on existing in my present way is mine to decide
  3. What does it matter for how long a time you avoid that which you cannot escape?

XCIV. On the Value of Advice

  1. Remember that pain has this most excellent quality: if prolonged it cannot be severe and if severe it cannot be prolonged
  2. You make us cease to crave if you only make us cease to display. Ambition, luxury need a stage to act upon (vanity needs others to expose it to)

XCV. On the Usefulness of Basic Principles

  1. As the food itself is complicated, so the resulting diseases are complex.
  2. (Integrating complexity leads to an exponential growth in potential points of failure)

XCVI. On Facing Hardships

  1. There is no misery unless there be something in the universe which he thinks miserable
  2. All the things that cause us to groan and recoil are part of the tax of life, things which you should never hope nor seek to escape

XCVIII. On the Fickleness of Fortune

  1. In waiting for the future, it will lose the present blessing which it might enjoy
  2. Pain he endures, death he awaits, neither seeking it nor avoiding it

XCIX. On Consolation to the Bereaved

  1. When the first news of some bitter loss has shocked us, tears are wrung from us. Tears like these fall by a falling out process, against our will, but different are the tears which we allow to escape when we muse in the memory upon those whom we have lost.
    1. This sort of weeping we indulge, the former sort overcomes us

CIV. On Care of Health and Peace of Mind

  1. The good man should not live as long as he pleases, but as long as he ought (serving others)
  2. Regard everything that pleases you as a flourishing plant, make the most out of it while it is in leaf, for different plants at different seasons must fall and die

CV. On Facing the World with Confidence

  1. Things which goad man to destroy man: envy, hatred, fear
  2. You will escape envy if you do not force yourself upon the public view
  3. Hatred comes from running foul of others and this can be avoided by never provoking anyone
  4. Everyone has strength to do you harm. He who is feared, fears also, no one has been able to arouse terror and live in peace of mind
  5. A wrongdoer sometimes has the luck to escape notice, but never assurance

CXVII. On Real Ethics as Superior to Syllogistic Subtleties

  1. Being wise is the employment of wisdom
    1. (wisdom is one thing, wise another)

CXXIV. On the True Good as Attained by Reason

  1. You will come to your own when you shall understand that those whom the world calls fortunate are really the most unfortunate of all

If these brief notes, peaked your interest in Letter From a Stoic , you can check it out on Amazon here.

And be sure to check out my book, Wiser Next Week.

All Previous Entries:

The Magic of Thinking Big: Ultra Condensed Cliff Notes #1

Millionaire Fastlane: Ultra Condensed Cliff Notes #2

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Ultra Condensed Cliffnotes #3

30 Lessons for Living: Tried & True Advice from the Wisest Americans: Ultra Condensed Cliff Notes #4

Awaken the Giant Within: Ultra Condensed Cliff Notes #5

The End of Jobs: Ultra Condensed Cliffnotes #6

Slipstream Time Hacking: Ultra Condensed Cliffnotes #7

Think and Grow Rich: Ultra Condensed Cliffnotes #8

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion: Ultra Condensed Cliffnotes #9

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success: Ultra Condensed Cliffnotes #10

The Obstacle is the Way: Ultra Condensed Cliffnotes #11

Meditations: Ultra Condensed Cliffnotes #12

Why Loyalty Matters: Ultra Condensed Cliffnotes #13

Walden: Ultra Condensed Cliffnotes #14

Self Reliance and Other Essays: Ultra Condensed Cliffnotes #15

Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable: Ultra Condensed Cliffnotes #16

Letters From A Stoic: Ultra Condensed Cliffnotes #17

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