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Why Worry About What Isn't Real?

Einzelgänger | 11:25


In a letter to his dear friend lucilius, stoic philosopher Seneca wrote, there are more things lucilius likely to frighten us than there are to crush us. We suffer more often in imagination than in reality, and quote, chronic worriers tend to be more occupied by the future than by present circumstances. During the day and even during the night, their thoughts wander in a mysterious realm of what's yet to come, plotting, planning, and calculating on how to tackle an unfortunate fate that might rear its ugly head. 

But even though they wish to control the future, they've never gone beyond the confines of the present. This is because the future doesn't exist except in our minds. We can't live in a future and we can't predict it. Sure, we can plan for things that might come but the present usually unfolds in different and often surprising ways. Still, many of us fix our attention on the unknown and fantasize endlessly about how things that we can't possibly predict present themselves to us. Seneca observed this phenomenon in his friend lucilius as well as in the people around him. He counter attack this often tiresome and destructive stance towards the illusory domain of the future with stoic reasoning, explaining why worrying about it is pointless and advising us on what to do instead. This video explores Seneca antidotes to worry and groundless fears.

The idea that the future doesn't exist doesn't deny the passing of time. It doesn't deny that what's happening right now will soon be the past and that we're constantly exposed to a stream of novelty, like a mountain top faces an enduring blizzard. The blizzard cannot be controlled comes from all directions and at different speeds, and brings along snowflakes in all shapes and sizes. The mountain is unable to predict what's coming. It's can only endure and to watch the snowflakes come and go as we watch moments come and go from what we call the future to the past.

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