Stoic Meditations

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15 Apr 2018 18:25 #320439 by Reacher
Replied by Reacher on topic Stoic Meditations
April 15th
Less Is More

"Don't act grudgingly, selfishly, without due diligence, or to be a contrarian. Don't overdress your thought in fine language. Don't be a person of too many words and too many deeds... Be cheerful, not wanting outside help or the relief others might bring. A person needs to stand on their own, not be propped up."
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 3.5

In most areas of life, the saying "Less is more" stands true. For instance, the writers we admire tend to be masters of economy, brevity, and meaning. What they leave out is just as important - sometimes more important - than what they leave in. There is a poem by Philip Levine titled "He Would Never Use One Word Where None Would Do." And from Hamlet, the best of all - the retort from Queen Gertrude after a long, rhetorical speech from Polonius: "More matter with less art," she tells him. Get to the point!

Imagine the emperor of Rome, with his captive audience and unlimited power, telling himself not be a person of "too many words and too many deeds." Let that be a reminder the next time you feel self-indulgent or a little full of yourself.

"The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity."
The following user(s) said Thank You: Karn, Alexandre Orion, Twigga

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19 Apr 2018 19:43 #320601 by Reacher
Replied by Reacher on topic Stoic Meditations
April 19th
Becoming An Expert On What Matters

"Believe me, it's better to produce the balance-sheet of your own life than that of the grain market."
Seneca, On The Brevity Of Life, 18.3b

The things that some people manage to be experts in: fantasy sports, celebrity trivia, derivatives and commodities markets, thirteenth-century hygiene habits of the clergy.

We can get very good at what we're paid to do, or adept at a hobby we wish we could be paid to do. Yet our own lives, habits, and tendencies might be a mystery to us.

Seneca was writing this important reminder to his father-in-law, who, as it happened, was for a time in charge of Rome's granary. But then his position was revoked for political reasons. Who really cares, Seneca was saying, now you can focus that energy on the inner life.

At the end of your time on this planet, what expertise is going to be more valuable - your understanding of matters of living and dying or your knowledge of the '87 bears? Which will help your children more - your insight into happiness and meaning, or that you followed breaking political news every day for thirty years? That isn't to say you have to avoid all those things, but be aware of your focus and what it could cost.

"The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity."
The following user(s) said Thank You: Karn, Twigga

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