Time to think…about insignificant it all is

“Think of the whole universe of matter and how small your share. Think about the expanse of time and how brief – almost momentary – the part marked for you. Think of the workings of fate and how infinitesimal your role.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations It is easy to blow things out of proportion and to […]

Time to think…about being glad to be alive

“Keep death and exile before your eyes each day, along with everything that seems terrible – by doing so, you’ll never have a base thought nor will you have excessive desire.” Epictetus, Enchiridion. These days it’s difficult to keep images of death and exile away from our eyes, so I’ve chosen an unrelated image of […]

Time to think…about your rational soul

“No-one is crushed by Fortune, unless they are first deceived by her…those who aren’t pompous in good times don’t have their bubbles burst with change. Against either circumstance, the stable person keeps their rational soul invincible, for it’s precisely in the good times they prove their strength against adversity.” Seneca, On Consolation to Helvia. Good […]

Time to think…about reasons, not emotions

“You’ve endured countless troubles – all from not letting your ruling reason do the work it was made for – enough already!” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations. On those occasions when you’ve thought and acted like a prize gibbon, what do you remember about the event afterwards? How realistic and accurate were your thoughts at the time? How […]

Time to think…about habits before theory

“When the problem arose for us whether habit or theory was better for getting virtue – if by theory is meant what teaches us correct conduct, and by habit we mean being accustomed to act accordingly to this theory – Musonius thought habit to be more effective.” Musonius Rufus, Lectures. When you know what needs to […]

Time to think…about perfectionism and perseverance

“We don’t abandon our pursuits because we despair of ever perfecting them.” Epictetus, Discourses. Having an all-or-nothing mindset is a sure route to unhappiness. The old adage that it’s not about the winning but about the taking part applies in many fields of your life. Don’t waste much time in worrying about getting it right, winning […]

Time to think…about facts, not hearsay

“Don’t tell yourself anything more than what the initial impressions report. It’s been reported to you that someone is speaking badly about you. This is the report – the report wasn’t that you’ve been harmed. I see that my son is sick – but not that his life is at risk. So always stay within […]

Time to think…about choosing to live well, wherever

“Wherever a person can live, there one can also live well; life is also in the demands of court, there too one can live well.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations. To live ‘well’ is to be clear about your values and to live by them. The pragmatism required of the situation need not prevent you from living by […]

Time to think…about applying yourself to thinking

“Apply yourself to thinking through difficulties – hard times can be softened, tight squeezes widened, and heavy loads made lighter for those who apply the right pressure.” Seneca, On Tranquility of Mind. Apply yourself to logical thinking – abstract, objective, facts-based exploration of the situation you find yourself in – and avoid where possible becoming engrossed […]

Time to think…about silence

“Silence is a lesson learned from the many sufferings of life.”  Seneca, Thyestes. When you can listen to someone a little longer, why talk? We feel the need to justify ourselves – in showing we belong to a group, or displaying our strength in resistance to an insult or perceived wrong being committed, especially when we […]

Time to think…about living in the moment

“At this moment, you aren’t on a journey, but wandering about, being driven from place to place, even though what you seek – to live well – is found in all places. Is there any place more full of confusion than the Forum? Yet even there you can live at peace, if needed.”  Seneca, Moral Letters. […]

Time to think…about your attitude

“Indeed, how could exile be an obstacle to a person’s own cultivation, or to attaining virtue when no one has ever been cut off from learning or practising what is needed by exile?”  Musonius Rufus, Lectures. There is something new in every experience we have. As flowing water means the river is never the same river, […]

Time to think…about acceptance

“That cucumber is bitter, so toss it out! There are thorns on the path, then keep away! Enough said. Why ponder the existence of nuisance? Such thinking would make you a laughing-stock to the true student of Nature, just as a carpenter or cobbler would laugh if you pointed out the sawdust and chips on […]

Time to think…about practice making progress

“The person who has practised philosophy as a cure for the self becomes great of soul, filled with confidence, invincible – and greater as you draw near.” Seneca, Moral Letters. Explore what is at the heart of you. As within, so without. Recognise your needs and values and be prepared to act to fulfil them. Be […]

Time to think…about being understanding

“Some people are sharp and others dull; some are raised in a better environment, others in worse, the latter, having inferior habits and nurture, will require more by way of proof and careful instruction to master these teachings and to be formed by them – in the same way that bodies in a bad state […]

Time to think…about what you’re not doing

“Often injustice lies in what you aren’t doing, not only in what you are doing.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations. What might hold you back from taking action in the moment? Emotions. Fear of rejection, of conflict, of looking stupid, perhaps. What happens if you do nothing instead, and see a wrong being committed? Another set of emotions […]

Time to think…about success, rank and ego

“When you see someone often flashing their rank or position, or someone whose name is often bandied about in public, don’t be envious; such things are bought at the expense of life. Some die on the first rungs of the ladder of success, others before they reach the top, and the few that make it […]

Time to think…about choosing your emotions

“Whenever disturbing news is delivered to you, bear in mind that no news can ever be relevant to your reasoned choice. Can anyone break news to you that your assumptions or desires are wrong? No way!” Epictetus, Discourses. We choose the extent to which an external thing or event affects our emotions. We can sympathise with […]

Time to think…about maintaining balance

“Receive without pride, let go without attachment.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations. All things shall pass. Recognise what they mean to you in the moment and take note of their emotional influence. At the end, aim to be the same person as before it began. You do not know for sure when something is coming to you or […]

Time to think…about your noble acts

“Nothing is noble if it’s done unwillingly or under compulsion. Every noble deed is voluntary.” Seneca, Moral Letters. When your actions come directly from your heart, there’s a moment when you can feel vulnerable – exposed – as your true colours are on show. How will others judge you? Are you doing the right thing? If […]

Time to think…about getting up in the morning

“Whenever you have trouble getting up in the morning, remind yourself that you’ve been made by nature for the purpose of working with others, whereas even unthinking animals share sleeping. And it’s our own natural purpose that is more fitting and more satisfying.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations. What is your purpose – in life, this year, this […]

Time to think…about acting with your will

“As Plato said, every soul is deprived of truth against its will. The same holds true for justice, self-control, goodwill to others, and every similar virtue. It’s essential to constantly keep this in your mind, for it will make you more gentle to all.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations. It’s easy to focus on what we didn’t mean […]

Time to think…about reasoned choice

“My reasoned choice is as indifferent to the reasoned choice of my neighbour, as to his breath and body. However much we’ve been made for co-operation, the ruling reason in each of us is master of its own affairs. If this weren’t the case, the evil in someone else could become my harm, and God […]

Time to think…about your aim in life

“To what service is my soul committed? Constantly ask yourself this and thoroughly examine yourself by seeing how you relate to that part called the ruling principle. Whose soul do I have now? Do I have that of a child, a youth…a tyrant, a pet, or a wild animal?” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations. We can all be […]

Time to think…about not looking for praise or favour

“When you’ve done well and another has benefitted by it, why like a fool do you look for a third thing on top – credit for the good deed or a favour in return?”  Marcus Aurelius, Meditations. If no-one acknowledges or thanks you for your efforts, does that mean your efforts have been in vain? Is […]

Time to think…about dealing with setbacks

“When forced, as it seems, by circumstances into utter confusion, get a hold of yourself quickly. Don’t be locked out of the rhythm any longer than necessary. You’ll be able to keep the beat if you are constantly returning to it.”  Marcus Aurelius, Meditations. For those receiving exam results that are not what they were hoping […]

Time to think…about doing the right thing no matter what

“One person, on doing well by others, immediately accounts the expected favour in return. Another is not so quick, but still considers the person a debtor and knows the favour. A third kind of person acts as if not conscious of the deed, rather like a vine producing a cluster of grapes without making further […]