Stoicism On The Shortness of Life: Is Life Really Too Short?

On The Shortness Of Life: Life Is Long If You Know How To Use It, Seneca, a reflection.

“Think your way through difficulties: harsh conditions can be softened, restricted ones can be widened, and heavy ones can weigh less on those who know how to bear them.”

On The Shortness Of Life, Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I just walk my three beautiful dogs outside. I pick up their poop otherwise, my neighbors will get mad at me. Back at home, I prepare the pan to make me some sunny-side-up egg. I partner it with a brewed coffee which fills the kitchen with its aroma. I added two spoonfuls of creamer and one spoonful of sugar in it. My breakfast is ready. After, I carefully hold the dishes and wash them with graceful strokes. Now, I can continue reading the book I am set to accomplish – On The Shortness Of Life by Seneca.

Photo by Ihor Malytskyi on Unsplash.

Is life really too short? That seems to be the question or the problem that you find trivial.

The problem is not about life feels short. But, the fact that you never feel that you have purpose and control over your life that makes it feel short.

Since I am reading On The Shortness of Life, let me share with you the gems of the book that I find insightful and helpful along with my short stories and reflections.

“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.”

The quality of life cannot independently be defined with respect to the length of time it exists. More than that is how and what we make out of it. That is why Seneca also says, “Life is long if you know how to use it.”

Imagine, a kid, Carlo Acutis, was beatified by the Catholic Church. At the age of 11, Carlo began to investigate the Eucharistic miracles that have occurred in history. He used all his computer knowledge and talents to create a website that traced that history. It comprises 160 panels and that have also made the rounds of more than 10,000 parishes in the world. In 2006, he succumbed to leukemia.

At an early age, the church put him on the path to sainthood . While some others reach old age to face death. The kid looks like he accomplishes more than the man who ends life on the death bed. It shows that life regardless of its length is enough to make it meaningful.

Life is enough, but we waste it on heedless luxury.

Life is enough, but we spend it on no good activity.

Life is enough, but we grip it with insatiable greed.

Life is enough, but we waste it on idolizing people who are as human as we are.

Life is enough, but we torment it with endless anxiety about the future.

Life is enough, but we live it aiming at nothing at all.

Seneca is right. It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. So, to live a long life is to stop wasting time. (For that, I say, “Ouch.”)

“You will hear many people saying: “When I am fifty I shall retire into leisure; 
when I am sixty I shall give up public duties.” And what guarantee do you have
of a longer life? How late it is to begin really to live just when life must end?
How stupid to forget our mortality, and put off sensible plans to our fiftieth
and sixtieth years, aiming to begin life from a point at which few have arrived.”

According to World Health Organization (WHO), a global average life expectancy of 73.4 years old in 2019. That is enough to fulfill our dreams and desires and to settle with the life we imagine for ourselves. But how certain are we that we would reach our 40s, 50s, or even 70s?

Seneca reminds us we are mortals and we are not destined to live forever. And, we have to do the things that may flourish our life now, and not at a later time.

If the current relationship we are in is toxic, end it. If the current work bores us, ask for a more challenging role or find a new job. If we don’t like the happenings of our life, maybe it is time for self-reinvention or a more serious self-discovery.

“Why The Now is the most precious thing?
Firstly, because it is the only thing. It is all there is.
Secondly, the Now is the only point that can take you beyond the limited confines of the mind. It is your only point of access into the timeless and formless realm of Being.

Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now

While we have the vigor, now is the time to look into ourselves. Now is the time to make plans or even execute our plans. Now is the time to fix ourselves. Now is the time to conscientiously enjoy life. Now is the only time there is. (Click here – Power Of Now Reflection.)

What is the point of hoping for a better future if the future comes and we are already frail?

“The body needs are few: it wants to be free from cold, to banish hunger and 
thirst with nourishment; if we long for anything more we are exerting ourselves
to serve vices, not our needs.”

We only need basic things; more than that can be considered vicious.

We need food; we want Frappuccino, large French fries, Tacos, fine dining all at the same time. We need clothes; we want Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga. We need shelter; we want a mansion with a pool, a movie theater, and a large walk-in closet. Yet, we still get hungry, our clothes dirty, and our house empty.

While wealth can bring us some comfort, nothing satisfies greed. And, the delights in earthy things bring contentment to nobody.

With money, we can buy a house, but never a home; and we can buy a clock, but never time. We may be able to afford material things, if we still feel in vain at the end of the day, what is the point of acquiring more than what we need?

“So you have to get used to your circumstances, complain about them 
as little as possible, and grasp whatever advantage they have to offer:
no condition is so bitter that a stable mind cannot find some consolation in it.”

Feeling stuck in life is not a unique experience. We may be stuck in the boredom of our work, in the difficulty of our studies, in our relationship, and stuck in the ill dictates of our minds.

There is no absolute way of getting over it. Complaining does not even provide any resolve or, generally, being rendered helpful. But, if feeling stuck in life is life itself, would we still loathe it?

Look here. What if feeling stuck is the mind’s work to propel us to do something that will totally change the way we see our work, the way we study our field, the way we love our partners, and the way we take care of ourselves? What if feeling stuck is helping us to know what is missing and what is wrong with our life?

“Cognitive reframing helps us achieve a better outlook on life.”

Diane Tice, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University

We can get by to our circumstances and find consolation with our mind. Perspective is a power we should all have. If we cannot change the situation, at least we can change the way we see the situation.

Asking ourselves how to stop feeling that life is short is simple. And the answer is even simpler–stop wasting time, live now, grab only what you need, and look at a less problematic angle.

As we live on, we will learn how to get through difficult, harsh, and restricted situations. And, we would be able to bear the weight of our own life on our own. It cannot be learned overnight, but through every opportunity that comes in every day of every year.

Once the year is gone, the year is gone. Once the day is gone, the day is gone. No one will be able to restore the time once it passes. Stop wasting time. Live now.

Remember, a man who has white hair and wrinkles does not mean he lives long; he has not lived long, he has just existed longer.

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My 2020 goal is to read a book per month; share with people what I learn from and feel about the book. For October 2020, the book I read is On The Shortness Of Life, Lucius Annaeus Seneca.


On the Shortness of Life by Seneca (Click here. Read with Our Free App)
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (Click here. Free with your Audible trial)
Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Coleman (Click here. Free with your Audible trial)

THE AMAZON AFFILIATE LINKS: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases without additional cost to you! Click the links to buy the books without additional cost to you.

10 thoughts on “Stoicism On The Shortness of Life: Is Life Really Too Short?

  1. nakakatama yung we dont know how to use life properly. sa true naman sometimes we waste it doing senseless stuff but then sometimes it is what keep us going ano? pero im sure one way or another we will be able to get why we need to journey through this life of ours with all the struggles and challenges that we had and will face. it is always the journey that matters.


  2. This is a good point. I used to think about how short life is and how I constantly feel that there’s just not a lot of time.


  3. This hits me hard, “It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.” And also the part about the wants and needs. Sometimes, we get so consumed with materialistic things, wanting more and wanting to do more, that we forget what’s really important.


  4. I must agree we tend to waste a lot of our time and in the end think that life is short. During pandemic I realized that I wasted so much time with stuff that wont make me a better person or improve my skills. Guess this is the pros of staying at home.


  5. “It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.” Biglang napaisip ako dito ah… tama nga naman. Kaya naman imbes na sinasayang natin yung oras natin sa mga bagay na walang kabuluhan why not keep our focus on pleasing God. 🙂


  6. Medyo natamaan ako dun sa “It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.” Onga no, di naman talaga maiksi ang buhay. Marami lang talaga tayong sinasayang na oras. Kaya dapat wala na tayong sayangin pang oras, make each day productive especially ngayong may pandemic


  7. I do believe in every concepts you mentioned on your post. Life is too short and we must appreciate what we have before it’s too late. During this pandemic I realized a lot of things in life, time is gold use it wisely.


  8. Loved this post and I loved what you were trying to point out with the blog. I guess we should just stop comparing ourselves to other people and work on our own perspective on life
    But yeah actually doing it is a harder things on its own


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