Posts Tagged ‘Brain Pickings’

Last week I posted a piece written more than 2000 years ago about Seneca’s words of wisdom: the importance of living each day to its fullest.

Like many of you I imagine, I’d never heard of Seneca.

So when a dear friend, who read my post last week, sent me a link to a recent post about ‘Anxiety’ in which Seneca was also featured, I was kind of startled to think that so much wisdom could be found in pages written so long ago.

Seneca’s words in this piece clearly reflect  the anguish felt when anxiety grips our core and turns our lives upside down.  His advice is wise and timely.

Thank you Anna for sharing this with me.  By re-posting this piece found on Brain Pickings, I hope others will find comfort in Seneca’s words.

There are more things … likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality……

In his thirteenth letter, titled “On groundless fears,” Seneca writes:

There are more things … likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.

With an eye to the self-defeating and wearying human habit of bracing ourselves for imaginary disaster, Seneca counsels his young friend:

What I advise you to do is, not to be unhappy before the crisis comes; since it may be that the dangers before which you paled as if they were threatening you, will never come upon you; they certainly have not yet come.

Accordingly, some things torment us more than they ought; some torment us before they ought; and some torment us when they ought not to torment us at all. We are in the habit of exaggerating, or imagining, or anticipating, sorrow……


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I don’t usually reproduce the postings I find online, but this one was sent to me by a friend and certainly makes interesting reading.

Published by Brain Pickings, a website authored by Maria Popover which is

a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why, bringing you things you didn’t know you were interested in — until you are.

Originally appearing in the December 16th 1951 issue of The New York Times, the article that caught my attention was A Liberal Decalogue: Bertrand Russell’s  10 Commandments of Teaching.  Even in the realm of 21st Century Education, Russell’s thoughts still make for powerful contemplation!


Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:

  1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
  2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
  3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
  4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
  5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
  6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
  7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
  8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
  9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
  10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.
  1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

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