Seneca once wrote:
It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.
This is a profound statement and I would encourage you to read it again. The more I read it, the more I am inspired by it.
These phrases stick out the most to me:
“It is not that we have a short time to live… but that we waste a lot of it…”
“Life is long enough for the highest achievements if it were all well invested…”
“It is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity…”
“We are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it…”
I should, perhaps, end this article right now—with Seneca’s own words—rather than thinking I can improve upon them.
But maybe, for just a few short sentences, I will comment.
You (the person reading these words right now) were designed to achieve great things! You are unique in your being, your substance, your abilities, and your relationships. And there is no one else on the face of the earth who can live your life and accomplish your good.
Please, do not forget that.
There is no doubt that “success” and “achievement” are relative words and your highest achievement is different from someone else’s highest achievement. You may never lead thousands or cure cancer. But make no mistake:
There is a good that you are designed to bring into this world. And there are people in your life that you can serve and love better than anyone else.
Your highest achievement will be different than mine, but we both have one. And “life is long enough for us to achieve it.”
Unless, as Seneca wrote, “Our lives are wasted in needless luxury and spent on no good activity.”
It is up to us to decide, every day, to focus our energies on those things worthy of the one life we have been given.
Discard the inessential. Remove the distractions. Reject worthless activity.
Your life is too short… to waste accumulating material possessions.
Your life is too short… to be offended all the time.
Your life is too short… to chase accolades.
Your life is too short… to compare it to others.
Your life is too short… to waste watching 6 hours of television/day.
Your life is too short… to pursue riches.
Your life is too short… to not believe in yourself.
Your life is too short… to not forgive.
Your life is too short… to not speak your mind.
Your life is too short… to worry about the future.
Your life is too short… to regret the past.
Your life is too short… to live in fear.
Your life is too short… to be unhappy.
Your life is too short… to waste time on the trivial.
Your life is too short… to live like everyone else.
Your life is too short… to not be true to yourself.
And life is too short to wait.
Shannon Dahl says
Great inspirational article❤️
This is SO, so true, Joshua. It brought me to tears on this eve of my 54th birthday. I wonder, how did I get here so fast? Where have the years gone? I can honestly say that I have done my best to live each day to the full and for some reason, I have always had a very keen realization how short life is and how quickly it goes by. But, even as I have tried to cherish each moment and cling to it for all it’s worth, those moments have slipped through my fingers like grains of sand. May the Lord help me to keep these truths ever before me and make the most of the time I have left on this earth. I want to please Him and do all I can for Him and for my precious family and loved ones while I am passing through on my way to that eternal home with Him.
claudio nunez says
I know exactly how you feel , and as I read your reply , it brought me to tears and I just want to give you a big hug , because I’m in the same place and at least I’m not alone . God bless you and keep trekking
It’s ironic that you titled this as “Life is Too Short” then started quoting Seneca “It’s not that we have a short time to live” and also “Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us”. Then you begin your conclusion with a list of worthless activities by beginning each one with “Your life is too short”. You seem to be contradicting yourself and Seneca. Perhaps you should title it “Don’t Waste Your Time”. That would definitely give pause with a title like that. Also your list could start the same way.
Anyways, thanks for the Seneca quote and your words. Always a good reminder of living our God given life to the fullest and in pursuit of that which is good, pure and righteous. God bless you.
It is often said that hell is when God allows you, at death, to meet the person you could have become!
Lynisa Marks says
If you believe in hell. (I truly don’t mean that in a condescending way)
I find that religion was created to induce fear among the people. Where there is fear there is control. I have a hard time believing a loving god would send his creation to hell for not believing in him. It makes no sense.
I’ve come to realize that evolution is more believable And has more credibility than that of the creation story I’ve been taught all my life. I’m 56 now. Realizing this gives much more splendor to this thing called life. We truly do have only one life. This life. Enjoy it!
I love following you Joshua. You have some great insight! My son is a true minimalist. He became one after his hike on the AT- he was 28- in 2017. I take great pride in his wisdom of being one.
Sadden me to read your comment. God does not send us to hell . John 3:16 For God so loved(A) the world that he gave(B) his one and only Son,(C) that whoever believes(D) in him shall not perish but have eternal life.. God did make us to be robots …. That is not love forcing someone . He have free choice and free will .? We will send ourselves to Hell. Would you want your child or spouse to be forced to love you ? No I will pray that you seek him .
Your way of seeing it.
Lucky we have evolved to be better than God.
We do not condemn our kids to a nasty end or threaten with such a fate otherwise if they fail to love/respect us.
Gloria McCord says
Peach Goddard says
?Your words of wisdom are the very best part of this post?! They clarified all of the best points and brought them to Life for me!
I am turning 60 years old on 9/9, being born in 1960. It is a poignant year for me, since it is the age that my dad was when he died… Young.
I will take your words to heart to make each day more meaningful and better!
Thanks and aloha,
Jill Miller says
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
The verse I believe God gave me for this year… I read it almost every day.
A philliis says
My husband is in hospice. We moved a few months before covid to be close to his daughter and family. They have been supportive but have two kids and hectic jobs. Now that kids have resumed school it is problematic due to covid. It has been difficult not having my friends near. I was diagnosed with clinical depression many, many years ago. I used to volunteer, see friends, garden. I have faced and rose above my mother’s suicide when I was eight, abduction at 28, freak illness that had me hospitalized and intubated. Now I am depleted with no reserves. I am ashamed when I think of those who died from covid, for the families, for the jobless and homeless. I have food, shelter. The road ahead seems empty. Please don’t judge me.
barbara kuzmitsky says
start each day giving thanks for your blessings. this change in mindset may help. praying it will bring you through this difficult time.
Ann C says
Phillis, you have very right to your feelings of depression. Care giving drains a person. Drains them of not only their energy but their joy. You left your support system and way of life. I am sorry that your husband may be in the last stages of his life but you aren’t! Ask for help. Take care of yourself. You can’t take care of him if you are sick. And grief can make you physically ill. I lost my husband 18 years ago. The life I’m living now was never even in my plans but I survived. I will add you to my prayers. Please reach out to someone. Hospice usually have great counselors for family members.
Lisa Spence says
I will be praying for you, friend. Look up your local Church of Christ congregation; they will pray for you as well. They will also be a good source of support and love and will help you find peace through Christ. God loves you and so do I.