In this series of blog posts I attempt to translate the Moral letters to Lucilius by Seneca into modern English.
I think you understand by now that it’s important to spend time reflecting on your purpose in life, your values and what matters. From this reflection should come plans. Don’t make these plans to fixed. They need to be dynamic enough to flex and respond to changing situations and day-to-day events. Look at how things are unfolding, avoid emotional reactions, and take stock on how you can best react. To do this demands that you are present and mindful. Mindfulness also helps to address the fact there isn’t a prescribed way of living. Each day unfolds differently. You won’t find predetermined recipes about what you should to do in all possible circumstances.
Also, don’t reflect too much, you’ll have to take decisive and appropriate action at some point, even if you have a slim chance of success. Tenacity in the face of adversity is what causes a person to grow in character. This demands that you should take responsibility for your chosen course of action. Don’t blame others, you have it in your own power to change direction. In other words, you’re in the driving seat of your own life and not someone else.
Try to ease yourself into this desired way of living. But if you don’t think this is possible then go for an all or nothing approach. It’ll be better to give it your all then do something in half-hearted way.
I’ve also got some comments about your career. Taking a break from your job is only possible if you decide that it doesn’t offer you attractive rewards. People tend to love what employment brings them, but not the job itself. You have to question your underlying motives here. In a way you’ve enslaved yourself, despite the fact that choosing your employer was a voluntary choice. To escape, you have to decide that you don’t need these trappings. Once you’re clear in your own mind about this then you’ll be able to move on from this self-imposed bondage.
In signing off I’ll leave you with a thought. You should leave life, as you entered it. You never had any cares when you were born, nor should you when you die. Don’t have any fear of death. Of course, we have an in built fear of dying and want to live as long as possible but its not so much how long you live but how well you live. If you live life which is true to your values then it won’t matter that you haven’t achieved everything you wanted to. After all if you have upheld your moral and ethical principles then your life will be an echo of your values. I ask you, what more can you do? You’ve lived a life which is true to yourself. And remember, you will soon be at peace.
I recommend you read all of the most influential Letters in this new Penguin Classic book. It is the best translation, in my opinion, because it captures Seneca’s humour and style. It is also the easiest to read. My copy is full of highlighted lines, margin notes and tabs. A treasure chest of profound, practical advice which you can apply immediately.
Warning: this is not an academic text; it describes a hands-on philosophy of life. Discover powerful, instantly helpful wisdom. The complete guide to improving your day-to-day activities, thoughts and actions.