Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic is a collection of letters about morality from Roman philosopher and senator Seneca (c. 4 BC – AD65) to his friend Lucilius. Stoic philosophy holds that our inner life matters more than outward circumstances, and that we ought to seek wisdom, justice, and virtue while practicing moderation, discipline, and self-control – and that to do so would make one “self-sufficient, immune to suffering, superior to the wounds and upsets of life.” Which, for a school of Hellenistic philosophy, sounds really fucking useful right now, right?
If you’ve ever been interested in reading books about stoicism, developing a more stoic personality, or just learning how to practice stoicism in general – or just found yourself taken in by occasional stoic philosophy quotes and wondered, “Just WTF, ancient Rome?” – consider this a goddamn motherfucking introduction. Looking for inner peace? Where the fuck else do you want to look besides the goddamn STOICS? It’s in the fucking name.
We’ve adapted several of Seneca’s letters into modern vernacular, R-rated English. Did we translate this from the original Latin? Fucking no. Why did we do this? Why the fuck not, motherfucker, we want you to read this shit.
by Jennifer Dziura
Stay Chill and Don’t Try to Do Too Much Shit
Look, from what you’ve told me and what I’m hearing about you, I think you have a lot of potential. You don’t go running around and trying to do too much shit at once, getting all scattered and shit. People who are like that are fucked up. People who have well-organized minds can fucking chill with their peaceful thoughts and just be alone for awhile.
But be careful – you say you’re doing a lot of reading, but what the fuck are you reading? A bunch of random shit, right? If you want to actually learn something you can use in your life, pick a few high-quality writers and read them consistently. Good ideas are like healthy food. You’ve gotta eat that shit all the time for it to work.
People who do everything end up doing nothing. Some people travel everywhere. That’s great, they have a lot of people who’ll let them sleep on a couch in Berlin or Bangkok, but do they have any real fucking friends? Reading a little bit each of a bunch of random writers is like that.
You know what else it’s like? Let me drop some goddamn metaphors on you. It’s like eating your food and then throwing it back up before you can get any nutrition. It’s like you’re sick so you go to five different doctors and try a little bit of five different things. It’s like you can’t fucking leave your houseplant alone so you constantly move it around until it fucking dies. Cut that shit out. There are lots of great books and great medicines and good fucking places to put your houseplant, but nothing works if you don’t stick with it.
If you have more books than you can read, get rid of some. And when you decide what to read, make sure it makes some fucking sense.
Finally, each day, make sure to gather some idea that will help you with shit like poverty, illness, and death. Stoicism, motherfucker. Yeah, you might read a lot of ideas, but just pick one for the day and really gnaw on that shit.
I did this today. I was actually reading Epicurus, whose ideas I have spent my life opposing, sure – but I was spying, not going over to the dark side. And you know what that motherfucker said? “A cheerful poverty is an honorable state.” That’s nice, Epicurus, but I don’t think you get it. If it’s cheerful, it’s not poverty. Poverty isn’t the same as “not having enough shit.” Poverty is wanting more than you have. You know who’s poor? The asshole who has a fucking mansion but spends all her time thinking about somebody else’s bigger fucking mansion. That’s poverty. How much wealth should a person have? Just what they need. Just enough. And then, chill.
Update: Hear a dramatic reading of the post!
Hey bitches, that was some fucking Seneca, more or less. Are you finding inner peace yet? Want more stoicism? Here’s the goddamn book. Peace comes from within, y’all. And make sure you read the other installments in Letters from a Motherfucking Stoic.
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