Summary of Seneca’s “Peace of Mind”

What follows is a very brief summary of Seneca’s letter titled “Piece of Mind.” The letter’s purpose was to provide guidance on how to achieve serenity—the ideal state of the Stoic sage. The letter’s recipient was his good friend Serenus, who had asked how he might better control his vices in order to experience greater tranquility.

Seneca begins by affirming that tranquility is the most important thing in life. People don’t achieve it for various reasons but the solution to the problem resides within our own minds not by fleeing from oneself.

To promote tranquility Seneca makes numerous suggestions including

  1. Live in the service of others
  2. Engage in philosophy
  3. Be aware of your limitations
  4. Chose your pursuits and associates carefully
  5. Don’t be too attached to or have excess material goods
  6. Accept that you will lose many precious things in life
  7. Accept that disease and death will eventually come
  8. Accept that tragedy that good people will suffer
  9. Enjoy both solitude with socializing, work, and leisure
  10. Play with children, dance, and enjoy games.

Note – These are just a few bullet points from reading the essay. For more click on the link above to take you to the letter itself. What I can say is that peace of mind is a wonderful state if you can achieve it. It is something I strive for although I often miss the mark.

“For nothing can be above the man who is above fortune ” Seneca

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8 thoughts on “Summary of Seneca’s “Peace of Mind”

  1. It is hard to know whether Seneca’s advice is philosophical or psychological. If the latter then I would expect some evidence drawn from observation. Or perhaps he wants us to experiment and wait for what the future will bring.

  2. For me personally, philosophy has allowed me to achieve a higher state within my peace of mind, I believe that with a combination of meditation and seeking advice from philosophy, we can learn to tame our minds and put things into broader perspectives. Although it may be difficult to practice some painful followings such as detachment, as we naturally attach ourselves to family members, partners and children, these reminders have been meaningful and life-changing. Life can throw us many challenges but finding solutions in our own minds is rewarding.

  3. I found great Solace in Seneca’s Essay on Providence or why bad things happen to good people:

    “Now Valor is greedy for danger and is dismissive of the obstacles in its way; just as Warriors Glory in their wounds, and delight to see the blood flowing beneath their breastplates. ” Seneca De Providencia

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