On the Shortness of Life Book Summary - On the Shortness of Life Book explained in key points
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On the Shortness of Life summary

Seneca

Life Is Long If You Know How To Use It

4.5 (476 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.

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    On the Shortness of Life
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    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.

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    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.

    On the Shortness of Life Review

    On the Shortness of Life (first century AD) offers profound insights on the nature of time and how to make the most of it. Here's why this book is worth your time:

    • Timeless wisdom: Seneca's teachings on how to value and utilize time effectively are still relevant and applicable today.
    • Practical advice: The book offers practical strategies for overcoming distractions and focusing on what truly matters in life.
    • Thought-provoking reflections: Seneca's exploration of the brevity of life and the pursuit of a purposeful existence invites readers to reflect on their own priorities and choices.

    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.

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    On the Shortness of Life FAQs 

    What is the main message of On the Shortness of Life?

    On the Shortness of Life reminds us to make the most of our time and not waste it on trivial pursuits.

    How long does it take to read On the Shortness of Life?

    The reading time for On the Shortness of Life varies, but it can be read in just a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in less than 15 minutes.

    Is On the Shortness of Life a good book? Is it worth reading?

    On the Shortness of Life is definitely worth reading. It provides timeless insights on how to live a meaningful and fulfilling life.

    Who is the author of On the Shortness of Life?

    The author of On the Shortness of Life is Seneca.

    What to read after On the Shortness of Life?

    If you're wondering what to read next after On the Shortness of Life, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Letters from a Stoic by Seneca
    • Spartan Up! by Joe de Sena
    • A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine
    • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
    • The Art of Living by Epictetus
    • The Little Book of Stoicism by Jonas Salzgeber
    • How to Be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci
    • Philosophy for Life by Jules Evans
    • Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday
    • The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman