Stoic Wisdom to Help You Handle the Possibility of Disaster

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

“The man who has anticipated the coming of troubles takes away their power when they arrive.” — Seneca

The oldest tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon, has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London, since 1877. Just above the players’ entrance to the Centre Court, the tournament’s main arena, inscribed are two lines from Rudyard Kipling’s “If:”

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same

There are a lot of things that don’t work in our current society. Our obsession with instant gratification, our desire to fix ourselves by all sorts of means…

But there’s one aspect that is often promoted as a magical solution to all our problems, when in fact is a double-edged sword.

Visualization.

Believe you can, think about it, over and over again, and you’re halfway there. 

Visualizing triumph is easy.

But what about disaster?

What about visualizing the worst-case scenario? When everything that can go wrong does go wrong?

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Lessons on the Most Valuable Commodity on Earth From the Richest Stoic

Manuel Domínguez Sánchez, The suicide of Seneca | Image via Wikipedia

In AD 65, Seneca the Younger was ordered to take his own life by the Roman Emperor Nero. Seneca followed tradition by severing several veins in order to bleed to death, while also ingesting poison.

This order was a response to Seneca’s supposed involvement in a conspiracy to assassinate Nero. Former consul and advisor to the emperor and one of the richest and most powerful men in Rome, Seneca decided to embody his philosophy to the very end. He accepted his fate with calm, even though those around him urged him to plea for his life.

While Seneca’s words of wisdom touched on countless aspects of life, he is perhaps best remembered for his piercing thoughts on the value of time.

This wisdom is relevant to this day, or maybe even more so, as we live in a world that makes it easy to lose track of time as we immerse ourselves in countless micro-distractions.

Carpe diem, as the Romans used to say, is an art that needs tinkering with as we do our best to seize time, rather than waste it.

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