Seneca: On Virtue as a Refuge from Worldly Distractions (Letter 74)

Letter 74. LXXIV. On Virtue as a Refuge from Worldly Distractions


While undergoing hardships, why do some of us develop our resolve while others of us fall into despair? Then there are some of us who are happy, even while we are poor, while others of us are poor, even while we are rich.

To find peace in our lives, we must forgo externals that are out of our control. We can be happy with what is honorable instead. Virtuous choices are in our control. When we focus on what is in our power, we are pleased with what we have, and do not seek what we do not have.

Virtue is not only our practice, but a reward. We do not do virtuous deeds to win the approval of others or to boast about what we have done, but for the sake of the virtue itself.

We can cultivate our characters through our thoughts and deeds. When what we think and do harmonizes together, we are not lacking anything anymore. Our minds are calm, undisturbed. We are free.

We can choose to suffer from distractions and wretchedness. We can dwell for years on fears of the past and future, while both remain absent from our lives. Or we can be virtuous, which is a beginning and an end. We can live fully now

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