Peace everyone! Welcome to our PRSPCTV Blog Series Part III! This is Cesar; owner & founder of Elevated Thoughts. For those unaware, PRSPCTV (short for perspective) is a blog series I created that breaks down insightful, philosophical quotes; mainly from Stoic philosophers. I do this in order for us to learn how to think critically; not only to understand what these quotes mean, but to help us gain knowledge of self. By breaking these quotes down from my perspective, I hope we can apply the knowledge to our lives to help us become better selves, which in turn can help create a better society. I don't want to get too far into what PRSPCTV is about; if you're new to the blog be sure to check out our Introduction To PRSPCTV blog. With no further delay, let's get into this quote, break it down and uplift our state of minds 🧠
"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 realize 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 not ill-supplied, but wasteful of it...life is long if you know how to use it."
Lucius Annaeus Seneca, or better known as Seneca was a Hispano-Roman Stoic philosopher whom lived from 4 BC-65 AD. He went to School of the Sextii; a Roman school of philosophy. Some of his influences include Attalus the Stoic, Sotion,Papirius Fabianus, and his aunt (name is unknown).
What're your thoughts on this quote? Do you believe life is short or do you believe life is long as the quote claims? What would be considered 'heedless luxury' and 'no-good activities'? Let's dig in!
The Breakdown - Part I
"It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it"
We've all heard it before; life is too short. The purpose of that quote is to change one's perspective from negative to positive. It serves as a way to ease the pain and stress we all deal with on a daily basis. It's to encourage people to focus on the good things, rather than on the bad. From my perspective, that quote has remained relative to popular culture because countless people die every day; no matter the age, the time, place or reason. Events that result in one's death usually occur unexpectedly (obviously). Because of this, a lot of people that pass away don't get to fulfill their individual purpose; or could it be that their true purpose on this plane of existence was to influence us? This would mean that it's only an impression that we have of them; that people were supposed to live longer and achieve more in life. This I can't say for certain, but if it's taken in that context; then their true purpose was indeed fulfilled. Regardless of this; Seneca claimed that we don't have a short time to live, we just tend to waste it. He also emphasized that we waste a lot of it.
The Breakdown - Part II
"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 realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing."
In the second breakdown of this long quote, Seneca stresses that life IS long enough and adds that we are given a sufficiently generous amount of life. He even criticizes how life is wasted. Although I don't know what he'd refer to as 'heedless luxury' and 'no-good activity' since he was speaking on his timeline (within the 1st century), I'll break down what I believe are no-good activities and heedless luxury in our modern times.
In the digital age, access to information is infinite; nearly everything you think of can be searched and found online. This is beneficial to the world, but also carries negative effects along with it. According to a time-tracking software company named RescueTime, the average adult (active RescueTime users) spends 3 hours and 15 minutes per day on their smartphone. Summed up annually, that makes for a total of 47.90 days. A little over a month that we spend our time on our phones. In the course of 10 years, the daily 3-hour smartphone usage accounts to 479 days. In a period of 10 years, that amounts to 1 year and 4 months. Crazy, right? We don't realize this because we don't acknowledge the time we spend; time is always passing us by and the more distractions there are around us, the harder it is to acknowledge how much time we spend on these distractions; let alone trying to change oneself and stop such habits from holding us back.
I'd definitely consider some smartphone usage as a no-good activity. Excessive smartphone usage (to be exact) and binge-watching are on my personal list of no-good activities. Now, I'm not knocking anyone down for doing either or. To each their own; I understand that everyone is unique with their own individual coping mechanisms, or may have different destinies that require excessive smartphone usage and/or binge-watching. I do that shit myself; but it's those same habits I'm working on undoing because they're not a part of my purpose.
With that being said, I don't believe that excessive smartphone usage and binge-watching are entirely bad habits. Sometimes we have an extra minute or two and decide to look something up on our phones. Watching TV or streaming shows and movies online are ways we as humans escape from our busy lives. At least, in my opinion it is. We scroll through our timelines to connect with others or just for the hell of it. We're social creatures; by nature, socializing is what we do and have always done. With the technological advancements we've accomplished over the last decade or two, we can socialize with people who are on the other side of the planet with the simple touch of a button. When I was growing up, I remember my family and I would go to movie stores (Blockbuster) where we'd rent movies. Now, we don't even have to leave the house to watch a movie anymore! That's the beauty of technology! But beware, there are, of course, consequences that come along with the use of the technologies aforementioned.
To sum it up from my perspective, no-good activities are basically activities that aren't beneficial to your self. Notice how I put 'your self' instead of 'yourself'. Self, according to Wikipedia, is defined as 'an individual person as the object of its own reflective consciousness. Since the self is a reference by a subject to the same subject, this reference is necessarily subjective. I believe we should put more emphasis on our selves to take responsibility for our individual behaviors, tendencies, and actions.
Back to the matter at hand; if certain activities aren't beneficial to your self, then you probably shouldn't be partaking in them. For example; if I was on my phone for four hours today and I can't seem to remember exactly what I did while I was using it, then it probably wasn't something beneficial to me. If it wasn't beneficial to me, then I remind my self to be more aware; more mindful of the time I spend on my phone the next time I'm using it, so as to not allow time to slip me by so I can continue on improving my self, fulfilling my destiny and enjoying every present moment. If I was on my phone for four hours today and I remember that it was because I did research for this blog or to read or learn something, then it was beneficial to me.
The Breakdown - Part III
"So it is: we are not given a short life, but we make it short; and we are not ill-supplied, but wasteful of it...life is long if you know how to use it."
Could this last sentence of this quote be true? We make life short? How?
I believe there is a lot of truth to this quote; we do tend to make life short. We make it short by not paying attention to time; we allow it to pass us by and we don't make the best use of it. Instead of enjoying every present moment, we get caught up in scrolling up and down our phones, going from app to app, video to video. Watching show after show after show online. Poor eating and sleeping habits cause our bodies to react in such natural ways that weaken our immune systems. We, in turn, get sick, develop diseases and/or health complications. It's a domino effect. One thought turns into an action, which then turns into a habit; our bodies react accordingly to those habits and we suffer from those habits. We do make life short. The fallacy that I believe lies in this sentence is that we're not ill-supplied of life. Don't get me wrong, I do believe that we're not ill-supplied of life; life is long if we know how to use it. But, I'd like to take into account the countless, innocent lives that are lost every single day. Whether it's due to health complications, heinous acts, or tragic circumstances; I believe those lives were ill-supplied. They weren't able to enjoy life more; mainly babies and children. It's a sad reality that we all deal with, whether we hear about it or have gone through that experience. With that being said, I agree and disagree with this last sentence of the quote.
When it comes to no-good activities, you just have to use your best judgement on what is beneficial to you and what isn't. If you acknowledge an activity that you can live without, find ways to start breaking away from that activity. Limit your smartphone usage. Limit the time you spend watching videos, shows or movies. Download an app that tracks your time and notifies you when you've reached a certain limit of usage for the day. I use Quality Time to track my smartphone usage. And no, this is not an ad. I just want to help people based off what I know and what works for me. Exercising a few times per week helps too. Eat better. Research has shown that regular exercise helps improve not only your health, but your habits as well. Don't just take my word for it though, see for yourself! Read articles on self improvement; or, if you're ready to make changes, take action! Experience is the best teacher, as the saying goes. But there's numerous methods you can adopt that will help you break away from your no-good activities. The trick is to find them and follow through. Even when you falter, you have to acknowledge that it's okay to do so from time to time. We're not perfect. We're perfect but in our own, individual ways (that's a different matter to discuss in itself). But it's okay to falter. It'll take a lot less time to accept it and move on, than completely rejecting it and not learning from your mistakes; learning how you faltered and why. Instead, acknowledge your mistake; deeply analyze it, brush the shit off and keep it moving. A more, in-depth article (one of my favorites) on discipline and self control can be found here.
The lessons to take heed from this blog are to remain consistent once you begin to experience self growth. Don't allow your mistakes to deter you, build self-discipline, find a balance and maintain it. Most of all, remain patient. You don't become a whole new person from one day to the next. But who you are tomorrow depends on the choices you make today. An MC by the name of Wake Self (RIP) said in a song 'to create a new life you have to grow into it first'.
I'll leave you with a quote I admire and have posted in my room: "Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future."
So, what will it be? Do you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future? The choice is yours.