Thoughts

Getting mad skillz

Imagine how much more effective you’d be a month from now if you learned a new skill in the next 30 days. Think that’s impossible? Of course it is, if you aim too high. But why aim too high? I’m not talking about becoming the world’s leading expert in a month. Not going to happen. I’m talking about …

Wealth as a teaching aide

In one of his essays, Seneca lists all the trappings of obscene wealth—a golden roof, purple clothes, marble floors. He describes the life of someone who has been blessed mightily by fate and fortune. They have imposing statues, the most brilliant art, teams of servants. They have country homes and fancy jewelry. What does having all these things …

Hurting others hurt yourself.

Someone wounds you, so you want to wound them back. With a harsh remark. By cutting them out of the next project. By putting the word out about them. It’s natural right? The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn puts it beautifully: “Punishing the other person is self-punishment. That is true in every circumstance.” Marcus Aurelius—and indeed …

Reactions

One criticism of Stoicism and its emphasis on our ability to control our responses to events is that some reactions really are out of our control. If it gets cold, you’ll shiver. If you hear a loud enough noise, it will startle you. Sure, training can reduce some of this but we are biological creatures. …

Nothing goes as planned

The line from Cicero was that “to philosophize is to learn how to die.” It’s important and it’s true. This is what philosophers, particularly the ancient ones, thought about most. Seneca, for his part, talked endlessly about the shortness of life and the inevitability of death. He studied Socrates and held the man’s brave end up …

We will all be snapped off

There’s a haunting series of the last known photos of celebrities. You can see Prince getting in an SUV hours before he overdosed on fentanyl in an elevator. You can see Michael Jackson rehearsing for a tour he would never go on. You can see John Lennon signing an autograph for the fan that murdered him. You can see Marilyn Monroe posing …