In letters from a stoic 15, Seneca stressed the importance of nourishing the mind over the body. He pointed out several reasons why it must be prioritized over the latter. First, nourishing the mind demands lesser physical energy. Second, it demands lesser time. There are several routine activities involve in to developing the body which consume so much time. Third, wisdom appreciates while strength depreciates. The more we become knowledgeable and wise, the more we become powerful over time. Heavy physical activities are wear and tear to the body and there is only limited strength it can achieve. As Seneca puts it “The mind must be exercised both day and night, for it is nourished by moderate labor and this form of exercise need not be hampered by cold or hot weather, or even by old age. Cultivate that good which improves with the years.”
How do we nourish our mind then? By studying philosophy. It used to be the most popular subject back in the days of Ancient Rome and Greece much like basic math is taught in school in the modern age. “Without philosophy the mind is sickly, and the body, too, though it may be very powerful, is strong only as that of a madman or a lunatic is strong.”
In the later part, he talks briefly about gratitude. “The fool’s life is empty of gratitude and full of fears; its course lies wholly toward the future.” Oftentimes when we are too much consumed on how to get a better future, we forget to appreciate our possessions and the things we have accomplished.
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