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Seneca On The Shortness Of Life



Seneca wrote a great book titled, The Shortness Of life, Life Is Long If You Know How To Use It. He was a Roman Stoic philosopher who was born in Spain and raised in Rome, his books are full of wisdom in helping to unlock peoples true potential.

Here are a few powerful paragraphs from the book which I think gives a brief insight into what this book is about. This is an excellent book which I recommend you purchase.

Seneca in his writing describes the importance of using ones time in a productive way so that you may live life fully. May Seneca’s words have a profound impact on you so that you use your time in a way that adds value to your life.

“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realise that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it.”

“Many pursue no fixed goal, but are tossed about by ever changing designs by a fickleness which is shifting in-constant and never satisfied with itself. Some have no aims at all for their life’s course, but death takes them unawares as they yawn languidly – so much so that I cannot doubt the truth of that oracular remark of the greatest of poets: ‘It is a small part of life we really live.’ Indeed, all the rest is not life but merely time.”

“No one lets anyone seize his estates, and if a trivial dispute arises about boundary lines, there’s a rush to stones and arms; but people let others trespass on their existence-or rather, they go so far as to invite in those who’ll take possession of their lives. You’ll find no one willing to distribute his money: but to how many people each of us shares out his life!. Men are thrifty in guarding their private property, but as soon as it comes to wasting time, they are most extravagant with the one commodity for which it’s respectable to be greedy.”

“Look back and recall when you were sure of your purpose; how few days turned out as you’d intended; when you were ever at your own disposal; when your face showed it’s own expression; when your mind was free from disturbance; what accomplishment you can claim in such a long life; how many have plundered your existence without you being aware of what you were losing; how much time has been lost to groundless anguish, foolish pleasure, greedy desire, the charms of society; how little is left to you for your own store of time. You’ll come to realise that you’re dying before your time.”

“You live as if you are going to live forever, your own human frailty never enters your head, you don’t keep an eye on how much time has passed already. You waste time as if it comes from a source full to overflowing.”

“You’ll hear many say: ‘After my fiftieth year I’ll retire to a life of leisure; my sixtieth year will bring release from all my duties.’ And what guarantee, may I ask, do you have that your life will last longer? Who will allow those arrangements of yours to proceed according to plan? Are you not ashamed to keep for yourself only the remnants of your existence, and to allocate to philosophical thought only that portion of time which can’t be applied to any business? How late it is to begin living just when life must come to an end! What foolish obliviousness to our mortality to put off wise plans to our fiftieth and sixtieth year, and to begin life from a point that few have reached.”

Reflect upon what you have just read and learn to use your time in a way that brings out the best in you.



My name is Asad Meah, I am the CEO & Founder of AwakenTheGreatnessWithin. I am a dreamchaser who has gained a wealth of knowledge in entrepreneurship and personal development over the past five years through self-education. My mission is to inspire millions of people to become entrepreneurs by awakening their minds to their greatness that resides within them.

Fortune favours the brave


  1. Nina Naomi

    September 13, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Thank you for compiling this. It is amazing I think, that a Stoic philosopher can be so on point with today’s mindfulness.

    • Asad Meah

      September 25, 2018 at 7:16 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the article
      I agree Nina

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