Seneca's Letters on Ethics
1 - We Often Don't Change Until It's Too Late...
"Thrift comes late when stocks are low."
You must be willing to to sacrifice today for tomorrow's betterment, do the difficult things today while they're easier as opposed to doing them tomorrow when they're hard.
It's easy to hit the gym when you're loaded with energy.
It's easy to put money away in your savings account when you've got a reasonable income stream.
On the other hand...
It's hard to hit the gym and lose weight when you've got serious health issues due to a lack of exercise.
It's hard to keep a roof over your head and save money when you lose your job or take a big pay cut.
Most people don't consider these things.
They don't think beyond today or perhaps tomorrow.
Be a practical pessimist. Hope these things don't come but be prepared if they do... invest in your body, your health and your savings while you're able to.
2 - Do Not Attach Yourself To Things
"No good thing benefits us while we have it unless we are mentally prepared for the loss of it."
Don’t identify yourself by a car, a shirt or a house.
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.
The more you attach yourself to things the more susceptible you are to loss.
3 - Seek Progress, Not Attention!
"There are those whose wish is to be noticed rather than to make moral progress, don't be like them, altering your dress or way of life to attract attention."
An athlete and a musician both perform their craft in front of colossal crowds of spectators… and just like you and I, these individuals can only control their actions and their thoughts.
They can control their performance, be it on the field or on the flute… they cannot control the reaction or the reception of the audience.
While you’re on your journey you must take action with laser-like focus, the only approval you need is your own. You know you’re giving it your all and taking another step in the direction of your goals with each passing day.
Do not seek or entertain the opinion of others.
Whether you're a writer or a powerlifter the path to success is the same - put in the work and seek to better yourself each and every day... worry about your work rather than looking glamorous and thinking about whether others approve or not.
4 - You Must Find Peace Within
"A settled mind can stay in one place & spend time with itself."
Your thoughts are everything.
The law of attraction is the principle that you attract that which you think about a lot.
This powerful magnet can work for you or against you.
If you’re practising negative self-talk subconsciously (telling yourself you can’t do it, you’re not good enough, you don’t deserve it) then the universe will ensure you’re right – you’ll face roadblock after roadblock, your resolve will get beat down and you’ll quit.
You knew you had the ability, you knew you could acquire the skills, muster up the energy and get the shit done but you told yourself you couldn’t and hey presto, you were right.
This goes back to the old saying “whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
5 - Your Mindset Is What Seperates You From Them
"Within, let us be completely different, but let the face we show to the world be like other peoples."
Most individuals you'll come across are epicurean. They live with the mentality of “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.”
In essence, they're thinking short term.
You must think long term, you must delay the instant gratification we’re so used to experiencing in this life and invest for tomorrow like a true stoic.
Don’t invest in things that’ll rust, rot or depreciate, invest in things that’ll be worth more later or make you be worth more later.
A stoic and an epicurean may look physically identical, its the mindset that separates them, the intangible that cannot be physically seen.
You can't physically show off your iron-discipline or indomitable will, but you can use your iron-discipline and stoic investor mindset to build a jaw dropping physique.
6 - The Mind Is EVERYTHING
"Keep in mind that nothing but the mind is marvellous. That to the great mind nothing else is great."
You cannot control the traffic, the weather of the mood your boss is in when he greets you tomorrow morning… so do not spend any time focusing on these things. Instead opt to focus on what you can control.
You can control your actions and your response to things outside of your control, that’s it.
The mind can move mountains but it can also dig you into a inescapable abyss if you let it.
7 - Happiness Is Only A Decision Away
"No one is happy who does not believe himself to be."
Or as Marcus Aurelius said in his book, 'Meditations'...
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts”
When it comes down to happiness there are many different opinions and strategies on its attainment.
From the acquisition of skill to the accruing of scarce resources and the validation from others.
“I’ll be happy when I get 100,000 YouTube subscribers”
“Once I get that Mercedes C63 parked in my driveway I’ll finally be happy!”
“My life sucks, if only I could get that girl I’d be happy”
Sound familiar? I’m sure you’ve heard friends make similar statements, hell… you’ve probably even made them.
I know I did. that’s how I used to think.
Remember, it's all in the mind.
Make the decision to be happy TODAY while you progress towards your goals.