Monday, November 15, 2021

Seneca On The Ancient Art of Slowing Down Time

Is the live you are leading an addiction?  

The best things in live are shared with you through sustained preparation on your part.  You may not even know you needed them and may never know until they are past.  What are you now preparing for?  

There is nothing more blessed than contemplative meditation. Read this and use its guidence to walk forward.


Seneca On The Ancient Art of Slowing Down Time

“Alive time”vs “dead time”

Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art/Wikimedia Commons

How we spend our time is indeed how we spend our short lives.

Life offers a limited time for everyone: optimising your present time and using your precious time wisely should be at the top of the list of productive things to do.

But people are too busy and occupied with the affairs of an elusive future to notice they are wasting their precious and limited time.

When you are in a hurry, life is fleeting.

“We are not given a short life but we make it short; we are not ill-supplied with time but wasteful of it,” argues Seneca in his 2,000-year-old book, On the Shortness of Life.

Seneca was a Roman philosopher. Between 4 BCE and 65 CE, he was a senator and political advisor.

In his book, he cautions that people fail to fully appreciate the preciousness of our least renewable asset: time.

There’s a reason millions of people have many regrets at the end of their lives: people don’t pay enough attention to what they need for a meaningful life — they focus on what they want for a good life.

When you actively choose what to do, focus on meaningful experiences and slow down, time feels like it’s slowing down in your favour.

The irony of life is that many people are quick to protect their money and property but not their time.

Instead of guarding their time, inefficient people squander their limited time and complain of the shortness of 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,” Seneca.

Life can feel long or short, depending on how you use time. Not many people work out the value of their time or how best to use it until they witness direct a direct threat to their lives: a pandemic, illness or death.

Seneca observes, “They exclaim that they were fools because they have not really lived, and that if only they can recover from this illness they will live in leisure. Then they reflect how pointlessly they acquired things they never would enjoy, and how all their toil has been in vain.”

Remind yourself of the cost of wasted time

Life can be incredibly short for those who waste time. “Life is long if you know how to use it,” says Seneca.

To use your time wisely or slow down time in your favour, be very honest with yourself about what brings out the best in you or what you should be doing.

Reevaluate how you use time right now.

Are you happy with the trajectory of your life? If you expect a different or better path for your life, evaluate almost every activity or event on your calendar, and make space for meaningful experiences.

Busyness is an addiction that stands in the way of mastering the art of living your best life. To those who forget their mortality, Seneca criticizes adversely:

“You are living as if destined to live for ever; your own frailty never occurs to you; you don’t notice how much time has already passed, but squander it as though you had a full and overflowing supply — though all the while that very day which you are devoting to somebody or something may be your last.”

In your ritual compulsion to tick the right boxes, get a perfect grip of the future, optimise your life to death, multitask your way to efficiency, achieve inbox zero, remind yourself of what you are missing: alive time.

Learn to use your time in a more meaningful way or better still live immediately: be more present, choose your tasks carefully and don’t spend your time in the past or in the future.

“The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately,” Seneca reminds us.

Seneca’s On the Shortness of Life was written almost 2,000 years ago, but it’s still very relevant today. It’s full of timeless wisdom for living a better and meaningful life in our modern world. If you choose to read it, slow down.

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