“On the shortness of life” (IM709)

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.


Seneca on his moral essay, ” On the Shortness of Life“, explains that we all fear death, but life is long if you know how to use it. Seneca urges us to examine the problems that result in life seeming to pass by too quickly, such as ambition, giving all our time to others.

“You live as if you were destined to live forever, no thought of your frailty ever enters your head, of how much time has already gone by you take no heed. You squander time as if you drew from a full and abundant supply, though all the while that day which you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last.”

He argues that we have truly lived only a short time because our lives were filled with business and stress. How do we regain our time back? It is by studying philosophy, working towards meaningful goals, and not putting off the enjoyment of life.

The most important lesson from Seneca is that we should value our time and stop wasting it. Of course, we all know that. But how many of are are dead serious about it. I suppose very few.

“The part of life we really live is small. For all the rest of existence is not life, but merely time.”


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