As the new decade is fast approaching, let us be reminded by the stoics on how we can make this coming decade better than the ones before it and ourselves better than the person we used to be.
This decade can only be better if we ourselves become better. There is nothing new under the sun and thanks to the great minds of the past for leaving some detailed guide on how we can navigate life and avoid the traps and pitfalls that most people fall prey into.
We always hear that life is short, but is it?
It’s not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it’s been given to us in generous measure for accomplishing the greatest things, if the whole of it is well invested. But when life is squandered through soft and careless living, and when it’s spent on no worthwhile pursuit, death finally presses and we realize that the life which we didn’t notice passing has passed away.Seneca
I challenge anyone saying that life is short to do a simple exercise of trying to plank for five minutes and experience how excruciatingly long five minutes can be. If you actually do this exercise it will put you in a mindful state, for you cannot think of anything else if you’re really determined to accomplish it. Other people’s expectation becomes irrelevant, your past and future vanish in the air as you master all your energy and focus towards the task. And you accomplish this task congratulations, and for those who don’t, it’s ok, you’re still alive and still have plenty of chance to try again.
I guess this is how life actually works. That as long as we’re alive and breathing, we still have chance to do and accomplish things in life. But most people let their priorities be sidetracked by secondary activities. Here are the eight common pitfalls that waste someone’s life.
From his book On the Shortness of life, | Seneca
Needless to explain but it’s easy to be caught off guard, but the more we acquire, the more we desire for more. This has been written some 2 thousand years ago but remained relevant till this day of social media and click stores that will deliver things on your doorstep and pay them money you don’t have yet.
Think about the time you spend on social media and consumptions like Netflix and sometimes even music. Make no mistake, they have their benefits if used properly. If your business operates in this platforms then it’s ok, and if you’re streaming things that educates you and not just entertains you and give you some time to forget about reality, might as well deal with that reality you’re trying to avoid.
Dependence on drugs is never good and indulging with alcohol would bear no fruit. Seneca said “At times we ought to reach even the point of intoxication, not drowning ourselves in drink, yet succumbing to it; for it washes away troubles, and stirs the mind from its very depths and heals its sorrow just as it does certain ills of the body; and the inventor of wine is not called the Releaser [Liber, Bacchus] on account of the license it gives to the tongue, but because it frees the mind from bondage to cares and emancipates it and gives it new life and makes it bolder in all that it attempts. But, as in freedom, so in wine there is a wholesome moderation.”
On the latter part of the book Seneca explains, “If you don’t seize the day, it slips away.”Even when you’ve seized it, it will still slip away; and so you must compete with time’s quickness in the speed with which you use it, and you must drink swiftly as if from a fast-moving torrent that will not always flow.”
If they have something to say about you, you as well have something to say about them, so why bother? Besides, a person motivated to find faults on you can never be pleased. Life is a full time job, if people have time to bother themselves with your business their business is bound to fail, don’t repeat the same mistake. What is good and bad are subjective, always aim to do what is right.
How many times have sacrifice the well being of the goose just to provide golden eggs to the people around us? Yet in the end it’ll never be enough. Think about your dating life, your friends and relatives. As we try to please them, we are stealing precious time for our own development and security, and pay with not even a sincere gratitude. “Some are worn down by the voluntary enslavement of thankless attendance on the great.”
From his letter to Lucilius (Letters from a Stoic), Seneca said “The poor man is not the one who has little, but the one who hankers for more.” “You ask what is the proper limit to a person’s wealth? First, having what is essential, and second, having what is enough.” We desire to have money to acquire more things, but study proves over and over that having more doesn’t guarantee lasting happiness, which I can argue that we all seek. Being grateful on what we have once we secure the essentials is what could provide us the happiness we desperately seek.
“Many who have no consistent goal in life are thrown from one new design to another by a fickleness that is shifting, never settled and ever dissatisfied with itself. Some have no goal at all toward which to steer their course, but death takes them by surprise as they gape and yawn.” People without goal is like driving a car without a steering wheel, they’ll end up whichever the road takes them. Some are distracted, changing plans mid trip and end up reaching no destination and drain their tanks of fuel.