Gijs Verheijke

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Seneca and Stoicism

24 Feb 2022

I used to despise Seneca...

I took Latin in high school, and graduated with a 4/10 for Latin. For the record, that is not a good grade and constitutes a deep fail in the Dutch 10 point grading system.

The reason I had lost all interest in Latin had to do with the choice of content. We spend years doing nothing but translating Seneca, one of the most famous Stoic philosophers.

In my ignorant mind, Seneca was the most asinine and boring dude ever to walk the planet. He was against anything fun, against caring about anything at all, against desire. All of it could not be further away from what I wanted as a 16 year old.

Boy, was I wrong about Seneca...

In the past few years, especially while working on building Ox Street, applying stoic thought exercises and returning to stoic wisdom has actually been an enormous help. Stoicism’s core tenets are:

Seneca himself is known for gems like: “Those who suffer before its necessary suffer more than necessary” and “We suffer more in our imagination than in reality”.

The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday is a great way to start learning about stoicism, and I also highly recommend this interview with Ryan:

I have just recently made my way back to the original source material from my old nemesis Seneca himself. I have to say that I understand why I didn’t get it. Out of context it does come across quite asinine. But I’ve come to realise that’s just his style.

Don’t think of stoicism as a stern, anti-fun philosophy. It’s actually about letting go worries to have MORE fun living in the moment (even challenging moments) daily.

A stoic loves to enjoy the wine, but would be equally happy with water.