I cannot believe I am just now discovering Seneca! His words are mighty, inspiring and life changing. Thank you, Tim Ferris, for the introduction. Positively brilliant!
Today I read Seneca’s letter Discursiveness in Reading. He is a hearty proponent of thoroughly digesting the works of a few great authors over nibbling from several.
Be careful, however, lest this reading of many authors and books of every sort may tend to make you discursive and unsteady. You must linger among a limited number of master thinkers, and digest their works, if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind. Everywhere means nowhere. When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends. And the same thing must hold true of men who seek intimate acquaintance with no single author, but visit them all in a hasty and hurried manner.
Now whether or not I agree with his argument is not the point of my post today, for what I found most impactful was this statement:
everywhere is nowhere
Sometimes I feel that way as I try to multi-task through a slew of to-dos. I have learned that I do better when I tackle one task at a time–and my performance peaks when I don’t overload my plate. I achieve the flow state when I work with single-minded focus.
Furthermore, Seneca believed:
The primary indication of a well-ordered mind is a man’s ability to remain in one place and linger in his own company.
Again, life is so much more peaceful and enjoyable when you aren’t overprogrammed and frazzled. It seems that our consumerism society suffers from over-buying, over-committing, over-spending, over-scheduling, over-programming, over-everything. There is something to be said about cutting back. Simplifying. Sitting still. Meditating. Pondering. Being at Peace.
Epicurus wisely stated:
Contented poverty is an honourable estate.
To which Seneca added:
Indeed, if it be contented, it is not poverty at all. It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.
I agree with Seneca when it comes to money, but where I seem to still struggle with a paucity mentality regards the realm of time. I still sometimes feel that I never have enough. Even though I’ve been allotted the same as others, I often pine for more. And while I strive mightily to optimize my every hour, the optimization efforts have a way of becoming quite onerous.
That is why I also like to apply Seneca’s wisdom from his letter The Discursiveness of Reading to the way I view time. When I find myself focusing on my lack of time, I feel poor. When I stop seeking to perfectly “manage” my time, I feel rich and free. For me, learning to enjoy my time no matter my endeavor is something I’m working on. I don’t always have to be doing something productive
For me, learning to enjoy my time, no matter my endeavor, is something I’m working on. I don’t always have to be doing something productive because time, like money, is meant to be spent. The abundance mentality I feel so strongly about when it comes to wealth is something I’m striving to transfer to my perception of time.
As Seneca so wisely states:
Do you ask what is the proper limit to wealth? It is, first, to have what is necessary, and, second, to have what is enough.
When it comes to time or money, feeling that you have sufficient for your needs is true wealth indeed.