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Letters from a Stoic 17 – Summary and Key Takeaways

               In letters from a stoic 17, Seneca stressed yet again the importance of studying philosophy. Seneca said there is no perfect time to learn it. Regardless of your status, poor or rich, you have to start studying and practicing philosophy. It must be prioritized more than anything else and avoid making excuses. “Be a philosopher now, whether you have anything or not—for if you have anything, how do you know that you have not too much already?—but if you have nothing, seek understanding first, before anything else.”. 

              

          He told Lucilius he should not set aside philosophy and wait to accumulate a certain amount of wealth before studying it. In fact, philosophy can us already rich because wealth, for the stoics, is all about perspective. “Wisdom offers wealth in ready money, and pays it over to those in whose eyes she has made wealth superfluous.” On the flip side, he mentioned how wealth creates trouble in some men. “‘The acquisition of riches has been for many men, not an end, but a change, of troubles.’ I do not wonder. For the fault is not in the wealth, but in the mind itself.

"Be a philosopher now, whether you have anything or not—for if you have anything, how do you know that you have not too much already?"

       The thing is this: A lot of our systems of belief are hardcoded by society beginning in our homes during childhood. For example, we are made to believe (at least unconsciously) that wealthy people are to be exalted and if we don’t accumulate a certain amount of possession or develop social status we will be a loser. Even people who are already wealthy feel like they are poor. Stoicism shows us we don’t need external things to be happy – that virtues are sufficient to live a good life. 

The acquisition of riches has been for many men, not an end, but a change, of troubles.’ I do not wonder. For the fault is not in the wealth, but in the mind itself.

         Studying philosophy helps us challenges these underlying beliefs that have caused us a lot of resentment for a long time. It allows us to develop new ones to create positive experiences instead.  That is why philosophy is very important. The main reason why I write these stoicism blogs is self-check. I could easily get into a whirlwind of negative emotions. By learning and writing philosophy articles, I can manage these emotions by investigating my thoughts.

“Wisdom offers wealth in ready money, and pays it over to those in whose eyes she has made wealth superfluous.”

*****   Letters from a Stoic Key Takeaways is a collection of short key takeaways from the letters sent by Seneca to Lucilius. Read each letter’s key takeways here .

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