Top 10 Best Quotes from Seneca

Seneca (also known as Seneca The Younger) was a philosopher in the Roman Imperial Period who was one of the major influences in Stoic philosophy and his works on tragedy. Although little is known about his early life, he is best known for being one of the wealthiest men in Rome, as well as being a tutor for one of the most infamous Roman emperors "Nero" after Agrippina chose him to be his tutor. Some of his known quotes come from Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Moral Letters to Lucilius), De Brevitate Vitae (On the Shortness of Life), De Ira (On Anger), De Clementia (On Mercy), and other works. After his death from forced suicide under a conspiracy regarding Nero, his legacy was especially extolled in the Renaissance, even influencing Elizabethan theatre and Michel de Montaigne in the 16th century, along with other famous individuals. Many people still resonate with his quotes which remain applicable in today's situations. This list presents some of his best quotes.
The Top Ten
1 We suffer more often in imagination than reality.

When it comes to upcoming difficult situations or situations with uncertainties, it is very easy for us to feel worried about the outcomes in the future. Although it's natural, we are accustomed to assuming what event would play out in the future which can be stressful for plenty of people. This mainly applies to rejections, exams, or overthinking about decisions which might influence the future. Worrying about what would happen in the future only exacerbates the pain of upcoming crisis rather than only experiencing the crisis.

2 You are scared of dying, and tell me, is the kind of life you lead any different than being dead?

Yet again, death is what plenty of us tend to fear the most, but on the other hand, death is what gives life worth living. If you were to consider, here's a question to think about: why should you fear something that is inevitable in life? We often exaggerate fearful situations when the actual situation isn't as scary than you think at most times. As Marcus Aurelius quotes "You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength" (outside meaning situations that you cannot control). It is important to consider valuing your time and making your life as meaningful as possible, rather than living under fear. You'll be more free this way.

3 I judge you unfortunate because you have never lived through misfortune. You have passed through life without an opponent—no one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you.

This quote suggests that we are more capable than we would think, and this is true. We tend to hug our comfort zone simply because it's "easier" to live that way. This sounds good on the surface, but you'll have the disadvantage of not seeing your full potential nor harnessing your best abilities, which can miss you off better opportunities. At some point you'll need a taste of hardship, and having that struggle can earn you valuable lessons in the future. Some people are "lucky" to live or have lived lives with virtually no struggle, and take almost everything for granted.

4 It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.

The majority of society revolves on materialism as an asset of status. You'll never be happy if you are constantly wanting the latest iPhone, nor an expensive car, or having a gucci bag; be grateful of what you own right now. In short, if you are too attached to the object you value, then the object owns you. If you tend to complain about being poor yet you have tendencies of impulsive spending, then it's important to evaluate how you manage your financial habits.

On the one hand I can agree that you can have any amount of money and resources and still be miserable on the other hand this also could also imply that being genuinely poor is not a problem which it is.

5 Associate with people who are likely to improve you.

Although the quote is summed up by common sense, this is one of the harder quotes to incorporate with, especially when it comes to relationships. Friends and relatives can change overtime as the one you bonded with may suddenly do a sharp 180 degree turn on their life. But in general, this quote is important to consider. In short, cut off those who are toxic and/or are likely not going to be a positive influence in your life. If you happen to stumble on someone who would leave a bad stain onto you after interacting with them, it's best if you listen to your instincts and avoid further interaction.

6 It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully

Some of us would complain that we have little time to do "important" stuff, yet we squander our time being constantly preoccupied on distractions. Seneca also says that life is long, but the majority is wasted on procrastination, stress or "foolish entertainment" according to him - hence why our lives seem short to us. Plenty of us have goals in our lives, but we tend to neglect them and focus on other preoccupations that don't steer our way closer to that goal. If you don't understand what's coming from this quote, think of something that's important to you or something you really want, and stick to it. Remember, questions like these aren't answered in a day.

7 You live as if you were destined to live forever, no thought of your frailty ever enters your head, of how much time has already gone by you take no heed.

Continued - "You squander time as if you drew from a full and abundant supply, though all the while that day which you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last." Similar as to the "we have so little time" quote. If the previous quote didn't grasp your mind well, consider this more of a blunt version of that said quote. While some people may be aware that life is short, some spend plenty of time being preoccupied on stuff that is unimportant. While these things can be enjoyed in moderation, it is best to remember to do what's important for you, and aligning yourself with your goals in mind.

8 To be everywhere is to be nowhere

Many people travel in places where they would find "peace" or "happiness". Truth is it doesn't always seem that way, as some people end up with the same lingering feeling as before. Traveling as a hobby and to explore new cultures and adventures is not a bad thing, but if it's an activity as a part of your escapism, it's not going to do you good in the long run. This quote can be taken literally, but really can be applied in practically any situation. There's a reason why people tend to be the jack of all trades but a master of none. The same also goes to those who jump from book to book, and skim paragraph to paragraph without proper reflection but tend to forget pieces of information that are noteworthy.

Here is the full quote: "You should be extending your stay among writers whose genius is unquestionable, deriving constant nourishment from them if you wish to gain anything from your reading that will find a lasting place in your mind. To be everywhere is to be nowhere. People who spend their whole life travelling abroad end up having plenty of places where they can find hospitality but no real friendships. The same must needs be the case with people who never set about acquiring an intimate acquaintanceship with any one great writer, but skip from one to another, paying flying visits to them all. Food that is vomited up as soon as it is eaten is not assimilated into the body and does not do one any good; nothing hinders a cure so much as frequent changes of treatment; a wound will not heal over if it is being made the subject of experiments with different ointments; a plant which is frequently moved never grows strong. Nothing is so useful that it can be of any service in the mere passing. A multitude of books only gets in one's way. So if you are unable to read all the books in your possession, you have enough when you have all the books you are able to read. And if you say, 'But I feel like opening different books at different times', my answer will be... more

9 The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow, and loses today.

Given that our society is based on expectations, it is hard for some people to let go of people's expectations, especially if they are unnecessary and/or are set at high. Living a life set for always meeting other people's expectations isn't the best way to live - analyzing the first sentence. On another interpretation we spend our time worrying about how the future would unfold, especially if it's not changeable; our mind is naturally inclined to thinking the worst outcomes. Here's the full quote: "Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow, and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune's control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.".

The habit of predicting what's going to happen in the future is not a bad thing itself; it helps us choose what are the best choices that are available to us, however we tend to be pessimistic on future outcomes - hence that we get overwhelmed by those thoughts. It's important that you should be aware of this pattern, and try thinking of a more realistic approach.

10 Sometimes even to live is an act of courage

You ever notice that you find it very hard to get out of your bed? Now, look at the people who struggle over acquiring even basic needs. Tragic stuff happens to practically anyone and can change for either the better or the worse, yet they find courage, even in those hardest moments. Often times bearing the pain is much better than giving up. Seneca suffered from asthma, or "shortness of breath" as he describes it, to the point that it hindered his duties and his quality of life, yet "never ceased to rest secure in cheerful and brave thoughts". Having that perspective really helps you see how you view life in a positive way.

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