Seneca Quotes and Wisdom on How to be Happy
Who Is Seneca?
Seneca was a prominent Roman philosopher and playwright who published several essential works about stoicism. He lived from around 4BC – 65AD. Seneca was born in Córdoba where his father was the governor. He was raised in Rome. And was originally Jewish on his mother’s side.
Seneca the Elder was born into a wealthy family and at age 16 was promised in marriage to his first cousin Octavia. Seneca is noted for his writings which included tragedies, essays, poems, as well as moral treatises.
Seneca is considered the most important Stoic philosopher. He spent his early days in Rome as a friend to Emperor Nero. He also wrote a lot of letters and essays on the subject of Stoicism.
He was a great writer and thinker and he influenced the philosophy of Stoicism. In the Letter to Lucilius, Seneca explores what it means to be a good man and a good citizen and declares that his writings on Stoicism should be just as much for the public as they are for Lucilius.
Known as the philosopher of the “Four Noble Truths of Life”, he was a Roman thinker who is considered one of Rome’s greatest authors. He served as a tutor and adviser to Emperor Nero during the first part of Nero’s reign, until around 53.
Then, Seneca withdrew and began writing philosophical essays and letters of moral advice. He was forced to commit suicide in 65 AD at the age of 61 after Nero’s death.
He believed that happiness is an internal affair and wrote a book specifically on happiness, called DaVita Beata, which is the path to happiness within stoic philosophy.
Teachings of Seneca, 10 Ways to Achieve Happiness
Live With Arete,
Seneca says a good character is the only guarantee of everlasting, carefree happiness.
The ultimate goal of stoicism is eudaimonia that delivers a happy and smoothly flowing life.
To achieve this goal, we need to be on good terms with us in a diamond, the highest version of ourselves, our inborn natural potential.
The stoics believed that nature wants us to thrive in life. This is why the inner diamond, our highest self, has been planted within all of us like a divine seed so that we have it in our natural potential to become the highest version of ourselves.
In whatever you do imagine, there are two lines. The higher line indicating what you’re capable of and the lower line.
What you’re actually doing living with Arete about trying to reach the higher line and expressing what you’re capable of at this very moment.
It’s about trying to close that gap and express the ideal self-moment to moment.
The more significant that gap, the further away you are from eudaimonia, and the worse off you are.
This creates space for regret and anxiety to crawl out of the darkness and spread misery.
On the other hand, if you try to close the gap, you’ll build a good relationship with your highest self and live a happy, smoothly flowing life.
It’s only through the virtues of your character that you’ll be able to close that gap between what you’re doing and what you’re capable of.
If all happiness is just in mind, then nothing external is required to get a good life.
No villa by the beach. No million dollars in the bank now diamond rings, and generally, nothing else that wasn’t already within us is natural potential, and that potential is within all of us.
Accept Whatever Happens
In the words of Seneca, were more often frightened than hurt. And we suffer more imagination than in reality.
Imagine you’re holding your favorite cuddly toy or doll from when you were a kid. Now walk over to the window, open it, and throw your doll out into the street.
You stay inside and hope for a sunny day in some good luck. All of a sudden, life becomes an emotional roller coaster without you having a say in it.
People are stepping on your doll, cars running all over it on all other kinds of unfortunate things you never even thought of.
Now nobody would actually do that with their own treasured possession. But isn’t that exactly what we do to ourselves by worrying about stuff outside our own control?
We worry about stuff like Are they going to like me back? Will, I get that job.
Why aren’t I taller or better looking worrying about things?
We have no direct control over the causes of emotional suffering.
This is why the Stoics would tell us to take that imaginary dull back into our own hands, onto something for ourselves whether or not to get kicked around.
The point is, the Stoics want us to focus on what we can control and accept whatever we cannot.
There are only two things in our control our voluntary actions and our judgments. We can decide what events mean to us and how we want to react to those events.
Nothing else is under our control.
We have three levels of influence over this world.
High influence our choices in judgments and actions, partial influence, which is health, wealth, relationships, and outcomes of our behaviors or no influence; that’s whether ethnicity and most other external circumstances we compromise our happiness by worrying about things that we have little or no influence over.
We can’t change what already is, but we can choose what we do under the circumstances.
To quote Seneca, the wise man looks to the purpose of all actions, not their consequences.
Beginnings are in our power, but fortune judges the outcome, and I do not grant her a verdict upon me.
Stoicism teachers that we responsible for our own unhappiness or happiness.
And taking this responsibility will improve our chances of attaining Eudaimonia. We can either play a victim to our circumstances and get pushed around, or we can choose to take responsibility for how we handle the circumstances.
Being able to choose is called freedom of choice. When something happens that affect us, it’s a stimulus. How we react is our response.
Oftentimes that response happens automatically unconsciously and is therefore rarely aligned with our best self.
When you get out of work and find yourself in traffic, it’s plausible that you might decide that this situation is terrible and you angrily start cursing at the cars.
You’re getting pushed around by an outside event that you don’t control and cannot change. You let an outside circumstance determine how you feel and act.
It doesn’t need to be this way. There’s a gap between stimulus and response. It may be vanishingly small, but it’s always there.
Thanks to this gap, we always have the chance to choose our voluntary reaction or non-reaction to this or any given situation.
If you want to get in that gap and choose your best response, you need the awareness to spot your first impression.
Once you recognize this impression, you can take a step back and question whether this impression is good to go or not.
This way, you can avoid rash, impulsive, and automatic behavior. In this case, ask yourself, Is getting angry or cursing going to smooth out the traffic?
Once you realize that it’s not going to do that, you can choose a productive alternative, like listening to an audiobook or putting on some relaxing music.
This way, you’re thinking before reacting and taking charge of the situation.
If we take responsibility and don’t let outside events determine our well-being, we can express our best self and become supremely happy.
Be Mindful of Your Anger.
As we learn from Seneca, we shouldn’t control anger but destroy it entirely for what control is there for a fundamentally wicked thing.
Anger is defined as an intense emotional state involving a strong, uncomfortable, and hostile response to a perceived provocation, hurt, or threat.
We believe that getting angry is not always bad, and having the right amount of anger at the right time is justified.
However, according to the Stoics, there’s no such thing as a good degree of anger. Anger is fundamentally unreasonable, and it damages society. Hence, it’s unnatural.
According to Seneca, Angry is a binary emotion. The emotion of anger has a forward momentum that’s far more extreme than other emotions.
The moment you realize you’re angry, you are already under its control.
He called anger a temporary madness and a poor guide to happiness on that, even when justified, we should never act based on it because it affects our sanity.
Anger interferes with problem-solving and good judgment and makes you rash and rigid in your thinking. While fear drives us to flee, anger drives us to aggress and confront. Anger motivates revenge, and retaliation.
Hence Seneca advises us to be mindful about our own anger triggers so that we will be able to catch and neutralize them far earlier.
Know Where You’re Going.
The Seneca teaches us if a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is.
Seneca views happy life as a path, and you can’t follow that path if you don’t know where you’re going or what that end goal is by path; we mean the desired aim, function, and use of our life.
Most of us in the modern world limit our lives to studying, working, having a family, and eventually dying in our old age. We mostly live our lives on autopilot without conscious purpose.
We rarely take the time to reflect on life and all that was required to do and be. We have no purpose overall to give meaning to events.
Nor do we have any clear idea of their own identity or who we indeed are. Many of us are depressed and unhappy because of our lives, like direction and meaning.
The best way to find your path is by knowing who you are, what you want, and how you can achieve your goals.
When you have your answers, you have a road map to start living a purposeful life that will help you achieve more of what you want.
One of the greatest gifts as a human is the ability to choose how you live your life, the choice to be a parent or not, the choice to be college-educated or choose an apprenticeship.
The choice to break the rules by designing your future.
The benefits of making the right choices are immense on the feeling of fulfillment even better, which is why to be happy, you need to learn how to find purpose and meaning in life for yourself.
Don’t Follow the Crowd,
Does Seneca say you asked me to say what is particularly important to avoid?
My answer is this a mass crowd? It’s something to which you cannot entrust yourself yet without risk.
We live in a world where we follow the same path as our colleagues and friends. Not to seem odd as soon as someone starts doing anything differently, the members of the crowd they belong too often quickly try to bring them back by calling them names such as insane, mad, or crazy on by warning them about the danger they might face if they step out of line.
The truth is, by following the crowd, you’re limiting your growth potential. You’re settling for what you think is good enough.
You won’t stress yourself out by thinking of ways you can improve. After all, you’ve already accepted that your normal because you’re doing whatever the majority is doing.
We need to realize that our happiness comes from within, not from other people, and being different is not a bad thing at all.
According to Seneca, if one wants to live a happy life, then he should limit his association with the crowd.
He believed that the contagious emotions of the crowd tempted individuals to be self-indulgent and self-serving. In his estimation, it was best to neither hate nor imitated the world.
Instead, he advised shunning both courses. You should neither become like the bad because they are many, nor be the enemy of the many because they are unlike you.
Retire into yourself, he said. Imagine your life is a movie and yourself as a director; you need to be yourself.
You need to distinguish yourself from others and have your own character so people will recognize you.
Be unique. Be innovative, be yourself and focus on what you do best.
Admit Money into Your Home, Not Your Heart.
As we Learn from Seneca, Wealth is the slave of a wise man, the master of a fool.
According to stoicism, you don’t have to stop enjoying material things, songs you don’t become attached to them; money is simply a tool to get what we want and need.
Most of us mainly need money for two things.
Security and access. Security means getting the basics like food, clothes, and shelter access means getting the things you desire, like a fancy phone, a car, or any other luxury.
The problem with luxury, argued Seneca, is that it develops unnatural desires in us, which are increasingly difficult to fulfill.
Naturally, these desires are not up to us, meaning that their external goods over which we do not have complete control are bound to make us slaves.
Another issue with seeking luxury is that it requires constant and difficult effort, which means the commitment of a significant amount of time and resources.
Needless to say, such effort, time, and resources could instead be deployed to go after truly worthwhile things.
According to a 2010 research paper from the Center for Health and Well Being at Princeton University, happiness and income are correlated, but only up to $75,000 or 88,700 in 2020 terms.
A person’s emotional well-being rises as annual income increases up to about $89,000 but no further. Happiness might even tend to decrease.
Make sure you own your wealth, and it doesn’t hold you.
Cherish the Present
In the words of Seneca, every day as it comes should be welcomed and reduced forthwith into our own possession, as if it were the finest day imaginable.
Despite truly wanting to be happy and worry-free, the great number of us spent a great portion of our lives thinking about the past and the future rather than the present moment.
One of the unique characteristics of human beings is that we talk to ourselves all the time. This internal voice loves attention. It really shuts up and is a great storyteller, creating stories about our past and future.
The solution to unhappiness and anxiety is to be present. This is often referred to as mindfulness consciousness and awareness.
If being completely honest with yourself, you would admit that your current situation is relatively problem-free.
You have shelter and food. Your life is probably not in any imminent danger, Right now. You have choices available in the current moment. Happiness is with you at this very moment, waiting for you to seize it.
Cherish, every morning you wake up, look at every day is a gift on the most wonderful day of your life.
Give Without Expectations,
Seneca tells us wherever there is a human being, and there is an opportunity for kindness. Recent studies suggest that giving toe others makes us happy, even happier than spending on ourselves.
When you were a kid, there was nothing better than receiving a gift. You didn’t know exactly what was inside, but you knew it was for you, and it was probably something you really wanted.
We all grow up, eventually reach an age at which giving gift becomes Just as thrilling is receiving them.
We find the joy of making someone happy is actually more powerful than instant gratification.
There’s something inexplicably satisfying in witnessing people unwrap a gift on respond with unadulterated amazement and happiness.
You’ve made them smile on that’s worth farm or than money or any material item. There were times where we want to give back to society or our community, but we end up falling short.
Our busy schedules of our work-life being apparent running a house. None of it leaves much room for many acts of kindness on.
Because we don’t often have money to donate, we equally often don’t contribute anything at all. However, contribution doesn’t necessarily have to be financial.
You can also donate your time and effort or even material goods like your clothes and gadgets that you don’t use anymore.
But when you perform good deeds for people, you shouldn’t be asking for payment even in the form of gratitude.
If you’re doing good, the satisfaction of helping is the payment.
Always Be Youthful.
In our final piece of wisdom from Seneca, he tells us to hang on to your youthful enthusiasm. You’ll be able to use them better when you’re older.
When we start in adult life, we are, on average, pretty positive things go downhill from youth to middle age, where many of us succumb to what is commonly known as the midlife crisis.
For many of us, when we turn 40, we suddenly find ourselves slowing down, gaining weight, and losing muscle tone. We’re less energized than as we were just a few short years ago.
However, research shows that people who feel younger than their chronological age are likely to live longer, happy lives.
People who feel young tend to have three things in common. They are keeping your mind agile, your body active and staying socially engaged.
You can keep your mind active by joining a book club or joining a community choir or chorus, even playing video games.
You could also join our community College, which is full, of course, is that you can take to learn new skills or brush up on subjects you’ve always wanted to improve.
To keep your body active, all you need is to add movement to your day.
Practicing Eastern disciplines like yoga Qi Gong and Tai Chee are a great way to seek harmony between your body and mind so that you can face the world with strength, joy, and serenity.
The best way to stay socially active is by strengthening ties with your family and friends. Make special outings with your family and friends a priority in your life.
And if you have a friend who makes you laugh, spend lots and lots of time with them. Laughing makes you feel alive. Laugh with your heart. Laugh with your mind on Laugh with your soul.
Fate leads the willing, and drags along the reluctant.
“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.”