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Ian O'Byrne

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. - Viktor E. Frankl In issue of my newsletter. Subscribe at http://wiobyrne.com/tldr/ #life

#117

Ian O'Byrne

Seneca on practicing what you preach

2 min read

This morning's read caught my eye as I read a letter titled "On practicing what you preach" from Seneca.

The letter is advice provided from Seneca to Lucilius about becoming your own master and not losing sight of your goals or values.

Specifically, this section was valuable for me:

It is the mark, however, of a noble spirit not to precipitate oneself into such things on the ground that they are better, but to practice for them on the ground that they are thus easy to endure. And they are easy to endure, Lucilius; when, however, you come to them after long rehearsal, they are even pleasant; for they contain a sense of freedom from care,— and without this nothing is pleasant. I hold it essential, therefore, to do as I have told you in a letter that great men have often done: to reserve a few days in which we may prepare ourselves for real poverty by means of fancied poverty. There is all the more reason for doing this, because we have been steeped in luxury and regard all duties as hard and onerous. Rather let the soul be roused from its sleep and be prodded, and let it be reminded that nature has prescribed very little for us. No man is born rich. Every man, when he first sees light, is commanded to be content with milk and rags. Such is our beginning, and yet kingdoms are all too small for us! Farewell.

The quoted section above is guidance on practicing what you preach. Filling your days by living what you believe. There is the theme of poverty that is found in many of Seneca's letters. 

In that section, the line that resonates with me the most is the one that states "Rather let the soul be roused from its sleep and be prodded, and let it be reminded that nature has prescribed very little for us." I'm intrigued by this guidance that in living close to what our values might determine for us, there is an opportunity to temper our expectations for what we think we need...and instead listen for what the heart and soul holds for us.

 

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