“How many have laid waste to your life when you weren’t aware of what you were losing, how much was wasted in pointless grief, foolish joy, greedy desire, and social amusements — how little of your own was left to you. You will realize you are dying before your time!”SENECA, ON THE BREVITY OF LIFE, 3.3b
I had a hard time understanding today’s quote in The Daily Stoic at first. It seemed that it was talking about wasteful emotions and pointless reactions.
But then the book’s author Ryan Holiday helped me understand that it’s really about the time that some of these emotions can waste. He points out that we all have a lot of commitments, and that a lot of clever self-help books teach us how to assertively decline many of our commitments to reclaim our time.
But what about our reactions to things? What about getting caught up emotionally in certain events? We should decline these, as well, in order to get that time back. Those reactions take energy, and they take precious minutes and hours out of our days — consider just saying “no” to these responses, and choosing to spend your time on other pursuits that are more important to you.
Many of the things that we get ‘stuck’ on in terms of our feelings are really not actually that important. They become important by virtue of the time we give to them. Then they take up an out-sized role in our heads, and in our daily schedule. The way to get back that bandwidth from the meaningless things is to say “no thanks” and just choose not to engage emotionally. Be frugal with your time — heck, be stingy with it, since it’s non-renewable — so that you can re-prioritize your headspace, and your day.