Letters from a Stoic 2– Key Takeaways

            The central theme of this second letter is productivity. Seneca advises Lucilius that the key to getting the most of something whether be it reading a book, learning from different mentors, finishing a task, or traveling is to focus on one book, mentor, task, or place. He stressed out that the ability to focus on one thing or stay in one place is an indication of organized thinking. “The primary indica­tion, to my thinking, of a well-ordered mind is a man’s ability to remain in one place and linger in his own company.” On books, he said, “since you cannot read all the books which you may possess, it is enough to possess only as many books as you can read.” The age of social media has trained our minds to be distracted. When we try to achieve our goal we do so many things at a time. Seneca tells us to think which of these things matter most and then put our undivided attention to it. One of the world’s greatest stoic philosopher and Rome’s most powerful Senator was surely not a fan of multi-tasking.

            In the last part of the letter, Seneca talked about what it means to be poor.  If you are like most people you probably would define wealth in terms of the amount cash a person has in the bank or the number of possession he has. However, Seneca argues that wealth is not a function possession but of desire. The greater the desire the poorer you become and the lesser the desire the wealthier you become. “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.”

*****   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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