Seneca on being your own counsel

“No man can have a peaceful life who thinks too much about lengthening it, or believes that living through many consulships is a great blessing.”


Source: Seneca (2014-10-23). Letters From A Stoic: Epistulae Morales AD Lucilium (Illustrated. Newly revised text.

It shouldn’t be too hard to deduce that if we spend all of our time thinking about what we need to do in order to live longer that we will in effect end up spending most of our time not living. But, what I really love most about this quote is the second half of it. At some point, we must all turn inward for consulship rather than outward to others who cannot ever know us better than we ourselves can. Does this suggest that seeking advice from others is necessarily a bad thing? Not at all. I think Seneca simply warns us that “many consulships” does not equate to living a peaceful life. His language is not absolutist in nature. My take-away from this quote is that I should not forgo my own consulship when making life decisions. There may be others out there who are gifted listeners and guides – take their advice to heart for sure, but do not discount ever what you yourself have to offer yourself.

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