I had high expectations for this book (or collection of essays), and it didn’t disappoint. When reading it I was constantly struck by how amazing it was that I was reading something written 2,000 years ago. Seneca lived from 4BC - AD65, and his ideas are still applicable today. The book is structured as a series of letters to Seneca’s friend, Lucilius Junior. Each letter to Lucilius is read as an essay with a theme Seneca is addressing. This style makes reading the letters easy, since they can be consumed in small pieces. The edition I read also had a biography of Seneca and his influences on later philosophers, but I found it to be pretty dry.
The primary indication of a well-formed mind is the ability to linger in one’s own company.
Poor men are those who crave more.
A common theme was the importance of friendship. Nothing is pleasant without those to share it with.
Associate with people who will make you better (this same advice has apparently been given for thousands of years).
Stoic men are self-sufficient in their happiness.
It’s easier to change yourself to not rely on luck (Fortune) for your happiness, than it is to always be lucky.
Self control is harder and often more respectable than complete abstinence.
Think often about the worst case scenarios like poverty. Seneca even advocates practicing them. Then ask yourself is there really that much to fear?
Many travel to try to get away from themselves. Instead, learn to befriend yourself and enjoy your own company.
You can make another’s words and ideas your own by putting them into action.
You need to acknowledge your faults before you can improve them (again, advice given for a long time).
Your life is complete as a whole if you live it honorably, regardless of achievements you’ve managed to complete.
Life without courage is slavery.
Despise death, do not fear it.
Pain is bearable and slight if no opinion is added to it. Tell yourself it is nothing.
Don’t linger in past sufferings.
Nothing should be unexpected, prepare for the worst possibilities.
We are better and more industrious if we welcome the dawn (wake early) than if we sleep through the noon.
We should be opposite from most: retreat from the objects that allure, and instead rouse ourselves to meet the objects that attack.