On The Shortness Of Life by Seneca
If you’re finding yourself wasting time and dragging yourself from one pursuit to another without any real purpose you can’t afford to not read this book.
If you think you’ve got life figured out and you’re on track to acquire that mansion and super car you’ve been vividly dreaming of each night you can’t afford to not read this book.
Seneca’s ‘On The Shortness of Life’ is 33 pages of pure gold.
I have never highlighted and underlined as many key passages or scribbled in the side margins in a book anywhere near as much as I have with this classic.
When it comes to self-improvement and books in general we’re always looking at the new releases as these are the books that’re advertised and pushed in our face, both online and in your local bookstore. 90% of the time you’re reading a poorly re-hashed version of a previous book.
Books such as Seneca’s ‘On The Shortness of Life‘ isn’t advertised whatsoever.
You won’t find this book anywhere near the best sellers or anywhere that’s particularly visible in your local bookstore.
This book costs a few dollars and it will literally change your life.
Below you’ll find my summary on this book, be sure to pick up your own copy and ink and highlight the pages until your heart is content.
On The Shortness Of Life is a paradigm shift, don’t view the messages and quotes in this book as pessimistic or negative, this book is loaded with hard truths, use it to serve as a reminder to yourself and refer to it often…
My On The Shortness Of Life Summary
“It Is Not That We Have A Short Time To Live… But That We Waste A Lot Of It”
If you spend each day complaining, chasing luxury or perhaps even in a state of analysis paralysis by the time you figure out that you’re the master of your own life and that you can achieve great things should you make the decision to dedicate your time and focus to them it’s too late.
The time you let slip through your fingers is gone, and we can’t get it back.
You can’t get it back, I can’t get it back… the richest man in the world can’t get it back.
“Life Is Long If You Know How To Use It”
As Seneca says, it is a small part of life that we really live.
When we’re talking about ‘living’ we’re talking about the pursuit of excellence. The perfecting of your craft or the selfless contribution to the thing that’s much bigger than yourself.
Time spend trying to impress others, be it with cars, clothes, titles or tricycles is time poorly spent.
This is not you living your life, this is merely the passing of time (you can’t afford to waste it when you do not know how much remains).
“Hold An Audit Of Your Life”
Look back over the last few years of your life, honestly ask yourself how much time have you spent wisely?
How many days have you focused on building up yourself? How many days have you felt the joy of accomplishment be it from conquering either a physical or pursuit?
Most men will see that few days have gone as they have planned.
Now, how much time have you spent chasing luxury, status and depreciating assets? How many late nights have you spent at the bar trying to impress girls? How many days have you let the reigns of fear, joy, greed and foolish desire control you?
I can answer for both of us – far too many.
“And What Guarantee Do You Have Of A Longer Life?”
Tomorrow is not guaranteed, your age is not a means of knowing how many days you have left to live.
A healthy 85 year old man could outlive a 25 year old that has given in to a life a substance abuse and poor eating habits…
A 70 year old woman could outlive a 21 year old model who may fall victim to a freak accident in the near future.
Stop thinking you have 40, 50, 60 or 70 years left.
As Seneca says “You are living as if destined to live forever; your own frailty never occurs to you; you don’t know how much time has already passed, but squander it as though you had a full and overflowing supply.”
We put limitations on what we can and can’t do, we let fear control our lives while at the same time we want, want want.
We want fame, we want status, we want the house on the hill.
“You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.”
Too many of us are living in Picasso’s Dichotomy – doing what we don’t want to do now (e.g. a shitty job) while promising ourselves that we’ll do what we actually want to do later in life, often in retirement.
Few men rise up and challenge the status quo that we’re conditioned to.
Job security, a few coins deposited into your bank account once a fortnight, a pat on the back every once in a while when you’re able to acquire a new customer for the corporate giant that is your workplace.
That’s what you get in return for doing that which you hate for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.
That’s what you get in return for doing what you hate.
“I’ll work hard for the next 10 years in this industry I hate, only then will I be able to go on that European vacation I’ve been dreaming of for years”
That my friend is a classic case of Picasso’s dichotomy.
You’re not guaranteed tomorrow, let alone 10 years…
“It Is Inevitable That Life Will Not Just Be Very Short But Very Miserable For Those Who Acquire By Great Toil What They Must Keep By Greater Toil”
The higher something rises the more liable it is to fall.
If you think you’re going to be happy when you acquire _____ you’re in for a surprise.
From my experience I now see that happiness is found in the grind, it’s the progression and the adversity that makes you feel alive – that forms a life well lived.
Consumerism is all about stuff, buy this, buy that, upgrade that… you’re lead to believe what you currently have is never good enough.
When you buy something new you’ll get a brief hit of happiness, but this doesn’t last long and once it’s gone you revert back to your baseline level of happiness, which creates the never ending cycle. You buy more and more and more. Each time you buy a new object you get that hit but it never lasts, you soon find yourself with barely enough room to store the shit you wasted your money on that’s now cluttering your house as well as your mind. Just like fight club, eventually your stuff will own you if you follow this path.
The best method of increasing your overall happiness is to go long term. Forget about that thing you want today, tomorrow or next week. Set your big, audacious goals – month long goals, year long goals. Wake up every day with a purpose and align your actions with your goals. Whether this be a body fat percentage, the podium finish in a Spartan race, doubling your websites page views per day. Whatever it is that excites you and motivates you to put the work in.
Studies have shown time and time again that heightened happiness is experienced via doing things and helping others.
You’ll derive far more long term happiness from the 4WDing trip you went on with your buddies in years to come through the memories and relationships that you build as opposed to the flat screen TV you bought which you probably won’t even remember owning a couple of years down the line.