On the Shortness of Life Book Summary - On the Shortness of Life Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

On the Shortness of Life summary


Life Is Long If You Know How To Use It

4.5 (409 ratings)
12 mins

Brief summary

On the Shortness of Life by Seneca is a philosophical work that explores the concept of time and how to make the most of it. It encourages readers to live in the present moment and to stop wasting time on meaningless pursuits.

Table of Contents

    On the Shortness of Life
    Summary of 5 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 5

    Life is short if you waste it on trivialities.

    People have always been good at wasting time. Most people spend the majority of their time engaged in trivial activities – even if these activities don’t seem trivial to them.

    But the thing about trivial activities is that they make life seem short. For instance, life will seem especially short if you only pursue status or power. You’ll always have your eye on some future goal and won’t be able to enjoy your current situation.

    People tend to think that, once they’ve achieved all their goals, they’ll have time to enjoy life. But it rarely works out this way. What usually happens is this: people spend their life preparing for life.

    The Emperor Augustus is a case in point. He spoke endlessly of quietude, of the calm and rest he’d enjoy upon retirement from his public duties. But this longed-for day never came. The Roman Empire depended on him, and he could never pull himself away.

    Life will also seem short to those who pursue a life of luxury. These people can't even enjoy their indulgences. They’ll always be thinking of how their current thrill will soon end, or where their next one will come from.

    But worst of all are those who seek glory after death. These people get wrapped up in planning for a posterity that’s not even theirs. They'll be thinking of that pithy remark in their obituary. Or they’ll draw up plans for giant tombs. But funerals ought to be simple symbolic affairs. In fact, there is nothing more suitable than a single burning candle, an apt symbol for the shortness of human life.

    Want more?
    Read or listen to the key ideas
    from 7,000+ titles

    Key ideas in On the Shortness of Life

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is On the Shortness of Life about?

    On the Shortness of Life (49 AD) is an essay on how to appreciate life – and how to use it. These blinks show you what is truly valuable in this world and how to avoid getting distracted by unimportant matters. They’ll show you where genuine happiness comes from and why working hard will not lead to a tranquil and satisfied mind.

    Who should read On the Shortness of Life?

    • Workaholics who never have any time for anything
    • Thinkers trying to decide what it means to live a good life
    • Anyone who wants to be inspired to learn and read more

    About the Author

    Lucius Annaeus Seneca, or, as he is better known, Seneca the Younger, was a Roman philosopher and statesman during the first century AD. Seneca was part of the philosophical school of Stoicism. He wrote a broad range of works, including essays, letters, tragedies, a biography of his father and even a Menippean satire.

    Categories with On the Shortness of Life

    Book summaries like On the Shortness of Life

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    28 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial