Seneca: Letters from a Stoic (Animated)

Seneca: Letters from a Stoic (Animated)


“A plant which is frequently moved never
grows strong.” We live in a world where it is easy to get
distracted thanks to the abundance of information around us and at our fingertips. If we are constantly rushing around from one
pleasure or temptation to the next, we cannot reap the benefits of sticking to one pursuit
and taking the time to develop it. Focus. Flitting about physically or mentally will
restrict your ability to fully understand and advance your strategy and goals. “In the case of some sick people it is a
matter for congratulation when they come to realise for themselves that they are sick.” Recognising an addiction, a bad habit or any
other flaw in yourself is progress as it allows you to take responsibility to deal with, or
change, that weakness. Ignoring your faults will obstruct any potential
to improve and change. A lack of self-awareness will lead to stagnation. “You ask me to say what you should consider
it’s particularly important to avoid. My answer is this: a mass crowd.” “When the mind is impressionable and has
none too firm a hold on what is right, it must be rescued from the crowd: it is so easy
for it to go over to the majority.” Seneca talks of attending a lunchtime “show”
which rather than being fun and relaxing as he expected, instead consisted of violence
and slaughter. The crowd condoned and encouraged these acts,
cheering on the brutality. Similar behaviour can be seen today at sporting
events, with thousands of people chanting obscenities together. These events may provide a tribal sense of
belonging but does nothing to help aid the development of the people taking part in it. Seneca’s solution is to avoid the crowd
where possible as mingling within them is a constant risk. The influence that the masses can have on
an individual is uncontrollable and often can’t be consciously avoided. Where possible resist herd behaviour and the
phenomenon of social proof in an attempt to conform. The group’s view may be right or it may
be wrong, but the important aspect is that you decide which it is. As Peter Thiel said in his book Zero to One:
“The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself.” Another alternative when socialising is to
mix with people that you can learn from or people that you can help out. Associate with people that can improve you
and with the people that you yourself can improve. People learn as they teach so the process
is mutually beneficial. “What difference does it make, after all,
what your position in life is if you dislike it yourself?” When deciding on your path in life, listen
to others but ultimately decide for yourself. “If you want a man to keep his head when
the crisis comes you must give him some training before it comes.” In a time of peace, you must prepare for war. The stoic strategy of preparation covered
both the mental and physical aspect. That way, instead of just being ready for
how we imagine the future will turn out, we can also handle unexpected events and worst-case
scenarios. A soldier practices drills and exercises constantly
so that when the time comes, he knows exactly what to do almost instinctively. “A good character is the only guarantee
of everlasting, carefree happiness. Even if some obstacle to this comes on the
scene, its appearance is only to be compared to that of clouds which drift in front of
the Sun without ever defeating its light.” We live in a world of increasing material
pleasures and distractions, but do they help or hinder us to achieve a good life? The really valuable things in life cannot
be bought such as friendship, love and integrity of character. Happiness can be something you possess regardless
of your circumstances. The key is your attitude, your character. It will determine how you react to life’s
obstacles and how you handle them. If you get distracted and do not achieve your
goal, is it a failure or is it a lesson to be learnt and used to fuel a better attempt
in the future? If you get rejected, is it permanent or a
stepping stone on the meandering path to success? The right character makes you unstoppable,
the wrong character can stop you from even starting. Many pleasures can be bought, but you cannot
pay for someone else to form your character. “Treat your inferiors in the way in which
you would like to be treated by your own superiors. Only an absolute fool values a man according
to his clothes, or according to his social position, which after all is only something
that we wear like clothing.” Seneca describes a man that when buying a
horse inspects the saddle but not the animal itself as “a fool”. In our world, many people spend a lot of time
working on their appearance or curating the perfect photos for social media. Do not pay too much attention to their appearance. Their popularity may stem from an unenlightened
audience. Looks can be deceiving and may be a front
that hides anxiety, fragility or an overall lack of confidence. Judge someone on their character, rather than
their social status, looks or possessions. “Why does no one admit his failings? Because he’s still deep in them. It’s the person who’s awakened who recounts
his dream, and acknowledging one’s failings is a sign of health.” To “Know Thyself” as the great Socrates
once spoke of, is difficult to achieve. Once gained, self-knowledge is beneficial
as it will allow you to build on strengths and improve weaknesses. The first step to improving is being conscious
of your failing. Only when we are aware of our vice, can we
change how we behave towards it. However, it is not always a pleasant experience
as self-knowledge displays your faults and shows how much progress you have (or have
not) made. This double-edged sword can make it seem appealing
to avoid examining yourself and stay unaware. But without assessing your character you will
be unable to answer questions such as who do you want to be or what do you want to do
in your life and where you are with regard to achieving both those objectives. By being perceptive and making sound, but
self-critical judgements alongside the ability to take action, self-knowledge allows us to
work on our failings. “As it is with a play, so it is with life
– what matters is not how long the acting lasts, but how good it is. It is not important at what point you stop. Stop wherever you will – only make sure that
you round it off with a good ending.” A good play like a good life is not judged
on its length but on the quality within it. The play can come to an end at any time and
every life will come to an end at some point. If you find yourself on autopilot or in a
position you were not expecting to be in, ask yourself if your play is worth watching
and are you, as the leading character, performing well? “Illness has actually given many people
a new lease of life; the experience of being near to death has been their preservation. You will die not because you are sick but
because you are alive. That end still awaits you when you have been
cured.” There are countless stories of people who
were close to death, surviving the experience and going on to live their lives to the fullest
as a result. This transformation comes down to a reflection
on the fragility of their life and the uncertainty of their future that many others have not
achieved. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste
it”, Steve Jobs once said. By enduring and then reflecting on painful
ordeals, you can use them as a way to become a stronger and more purposeful in your quest
for greatness. “These are conditions of existence which
we cannot change. What we can do is adopt a noble spirit, such
a spirit as befits a good man, so that we may bear up bravely under all that fortune
sends us and bring our wills in tune with nature’s. One can do nothing better than endure what
cannot be cured and attend uncomplainingly the God at whose instance all things come
about. It is a poor soldier that follows his commander
grumbling. So let us receive our orders readily and cheerfully,
and not desert the ranks along the march – the march of this glorious fabric of creation
in which everything we shall suffer is a strand.” Seneca views the commander as a metaphor for
life itself. We don’t know how he will behave or what
he will ask us to do, similarly we do not know the twists and turns that life will throw
at us. In order to stay calm when facing hardships
or misfortune, prepare for these situations in advance of them actually occurring. Think about how things could go wrong and
how you would deal with them if they did. Accept whatever happens with an honourable
spirit, rather than fighting against it.

26 Comments

  1. Vlad Mercori says:

    While I was working on my video about Marcus Aurelius I found some interesting ideas about focus as well. In a world where we are bombarded with content and information, focus becomes more and more important. 20 years ago was a characteristic, today it's a skill which we MUST master. It's funny how technology changes also the perspective on different terms.

  2. SayjinLord says:

    Ah haven't heard from you in a while. Awesome video.

  3. boston brown says:

    Thank you for what you do my brother!

    you deserve way more traffic to this channel, by the way

  4. Solanum Caput says:

    Kavanaugh Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  5. UNLEASHING POTENTIAL - PSYCHOLOGY VIDEOS says:

    Plans are like people. If they are too busy moving, they will never be able to focus on growing and succeeding.

  6. Tobias Major says:

    Thought provoking video, thank you for producing it

  7. Eudaimonia says:

    Get the book on Amazon: Letters from a Stoic – http://geni.us/cdT14

    Support the channel: https://www.patreon.com/EudaimoniaChannel

  8. Nate Higgins says:

    Peter Thiel seemed more libertarian than stoic but okay.

  9. tawnykyle says:

    Superb, succinct. Thank you, Eudaimonia.

  10. Eross Van Leer says:

    see u in a few months

  11. W Kumar says:

    I recently debated whether or not I should buy a copy of Letters from a Stoic. I now know that I should and that in doing so I increase my own mental fortitude.

  12. Erran 117 says:

    I love this channel

  13. Thash Mose says:

    Great video, Eudaimonia! Is Meditations next in line?

  14. Sir Meow The Library Cat says:

    😺 This is but one reason why the classics should be a compulsory element within education. The wisdom of the ages must not be lost in a time of turmoil and indecision. Be of good character by knowing yourself is as true today as of yesteryear. A century ago here in 🇬🇧 school leavers would be presented with a description of their behaviour and achievements, entitled their ‘Character’. Employers would ask to see it before considering accepting a candidate for employment. Today, all too many poor examples of ‘character’ are taken as representative of acceptable behaviour by young and highly vulnerable members of society. Seneca and others knew much that we might value today, if they were better known. Kind regards from one who has benefited from a classical education.

  15. satnamo says:

    A good character is the only guarantee of an everlasting and carefree happiness.

    I am a fan, Eudaimonia!

  16. Nur Hassan says:

    Wonderful video.

  17. Đức Nguyên says:

    what software are you using to created these videos?

  18. GrowthMindset says:

    Great video, I love topics such as this. Thanks for sharing these powerful lessons

  19. Arafat Hossain says:

    This video deserves more views

  20. Arafat Hossain says:

    Master piece.This video deserves more views

  21. Mike Hood says:

    Finally, a channel about knowledge and wisdom. 97000 views proves where the majority of people’s brains are at.

  22. The William Jones Show says:

    "it is so easy to go over to the majority"
    "the most contrarian thing is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself."
    " you will die not because u are sick but because u are alive."
    " death has been your preservation"

  23. Fabio N says:

    Thanks for putting so much effort on this video.

  24. Milton Junior says:

    Worth watching again. Thanks.

  25. Derka Derka says:

    I was searching for "Letters from a Not" and YouTube brought me here.

  26. Marcus Anark says:

    Seneca was a very wise man.

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