“Show me that the good in life does not depend upon life’s length, but upon the use we make of it; also, that it is possible, or rather usual, for a man who has lived long to have lived too little.” – Seneca the Younger
On The Shortness of Life by Seneca the Younger is (at least, this version)a short letter written roughly two thousand years ago.It’s timeless.
I revisit it at least once a quarter because it focuses me by underscoring how much time we’re given, and yet how easily we misuse or waste it.
You can listen to my favorite portion here, which begins with:
“Why do you torment yourself and lose weight over some problem…”
This is a fantastic reminder to separate the critical few from the trivial many.
You can listen to the entire audio collection of Tao of Seneca here on Audible. If you prefer a text version of the Tao of Seneca: Practical Letters from a Stoic Master, you can find it for free here.
- Listen to it on iTunes.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
Want to hear another segment from The Tao of Seneca? — Listen to How to Avoid the Busy Trap. In this episode, I dig deeper into useful philosophy and how we think of riches (stream below or right-click here to download):
This podcast is brought to you by Boll & Branch. There is a lot of nonsense in the bedding business. For instance, did you know thread-count is not a good measurement of quality? It’s a total myth. The “Made in Italy” label? It isn’t something you should necessarily pay extra for because it generally means it’s just finished in Italy and woven in places like China.
The general industry mark-up for bedding is 700 to 800 percent at most retailers. Boll & Branch creates incredibly high-quality bedding. They are the same sheets you’ll find at my home in San Francisco.
The best part? You can try anything you order at home for 30 days. If you don’t love it, send it back and get a full refund. Go to Boll & Branch and use promo code “TIM” for $50 off your entire order. Whether sheets, towels, blankets, duvet covers, or anything else. Shipping is always free.
This episode is also brought to you by Exo Protein. These guys are making protein bars using cricket protein powder. Before you look disgusted, I bet they taste better than any protein bar you’ve ever had before! With recipes that were developed by a three-Michelin-star chef, the bars are paleo-friendly, with no gluten, no grains, no soy, no dairy, and they won’t spike your glycemic response. In fact, they’re less processed than any other protein bars you’ll be able to find.
Exo Protein is offering a deep discount to Tim Ferriss Show listeners — if you go to ExoProtein.com/Tim today, you can try a sampler pack with all of the most popular flavors for less than $10. This is a startup with limited inventory that sells out all the time, so act fast!
QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: After listening to this letter, how can you make a more productive use of your time? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
- On the fleeting nature of the present moment [4:18]
- Lamenting time spent on superfluous actions [7:34]
- ‘Why do you torment yourself and lose weight over some problem…’ [8:28]
- Preparing for war [9:01]
- The space between life and death [11:06]
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)
35 Replies to “How to Live in the Moment (#149)”
I just want to say Thank you! I so enjoy your material. I’m learning a lot and opening my heart to the possibilities of all things. Keep rolling Tim. Much appreciation and gratitude.
I forget which podcast you were discussing wanting an alternative method for ice baths [buying 10 bags of ice at a time is getting annnoooyyyiiing], but I’m posting here in hopes you see this. My Wim Hof Method buddies and I are getting one of these and storing it in our friend’s garage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU8x-BPAlxY I know it’s not very compact but if you’ve got the room for it, it’s probably amazing.
Random shown with Kevin Rose
hi thanks for all your books xx
One of the most important things ever written, in my view. It changed my life when I first came upon it and continues to do so. Thanks for highlighting it, Tim!
i wrestled with meditation and the practices of “living in the moment” during years of Aikido training. In my final analysis, I found the positive results were short in duration and required significant effort.
Whilst reading Ernest Becker’s work, I became convinced that “living in the moment” is a mechanism to avoid the guilt of our past and the terror of an indefinite future.
Other belief systems attempt to address these existential issues. I’d be interested to read more of Tim’s explorations and how he arrived at Stoicism.
Appreciate your work Tim! Happy Easter!
Tim, enjoying Seneca and the Stoics. Since you’re a voracious reader, I have a book suggestion for you. “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi. One of the most profound books I have read in the last several years.
Has “on the shortness of life” letter been fixed yet? It had many errors when it was originally released.
Hi Tim, remember me, John Armond drama coach here in Las Vegas. I always wonder if that segment was ever shown? I thought you did a great job for someone who never acted before. Are you ever going to air that segment? Regards, John Armond
Appreciate the great work Tim. You continue to improve and positively impact the world more than you would every know.
Is there anyway to get the Seneca audio book without using Audible?
Enjoyed “How to live in the moment” piece. For what it’s worth…I was really into the moment listening to Seneca’s words….contemplative, pensive, calming…then it ends and suddenly….wham, bang…rock and roll music..your piece on 5 bullet friday. It was jarring to say the least.
Also, I wish you had time for a forum where these letters could be discussed. there’s a lot of stuff there…would be nice to hear your thoughts on some of the things he says. I know you’re crazy busy.
QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: After listening to this letter, how can you make a more productive use of your time?
Live the moment – that’s the best use of my time. Always.
Read today on Cal Fussman twitter feed:
“In the shower, with the hot water coming down, you’ve left the real world behind, and frequently things open up for you.” — Woody Allen
If we are not NOW-HERE then there is no life.
Life doesn’t exist anywhere but in NOW-HERE dimension.
You can’t really explain it either. One just got to experience it.
The real art that I start to “get” is living that every moment.
Thank you Tim!
Sharing for sure!
So much needed today!
Thanks Tim. Been doing this organically for years. You helped put all in context 🙂
This podcast could not have come at a better time. As always, thank you for your continued value. I look forward to your content every week!
I’m just reading your book now. First 100 pages turned my life to another level. More time for me and my passion 😉
Now it’s time to improve my income.
Thank you so much
Tim, what are you thoughts on religion or even morality? I’m sure you’ve thought about it a lot – studying philiosophy leads to the big questions. Stoicism seems to be a pretty common theme. Just curious if you’d ever be open to doing a podcast/blog on your perspective and/or grappling with it, or if you’d be open to interviewing someone on how it’s shaped their life/success.
Tim, have you ever thought writing a blog or doing a podcast on your worldview/ perspective on morality/religion – how you’ve arrived to the conclusion you’ve made or discussing where you are in terms of discovering, etc.? Reading philosophy makes you ask some pretty big questions – at least it has for me and a lot of people I know. I, for one, would like to know what your thoughts are on the big answers. I’m sure other people would appreciate it as well.
Just seen you on Evan Carmichael’s blog and you sound so productive!. I know you will get scores of emails and comments but PLEASE would you send me an email?. My name is Shameme Adams and I want to discuss something with you. Thanks!.
I love the writings of seneca but all of this reading and taking in more new ideas is not helping to achieve what you seem to be looking for – that peace. That comes in doing “not doing” and once read, seneca does not need going over and over – that is not what will change your perspective/s – being in the place that allows the healing to happen (to both body and mind) is. Only by going there and allowing all of this to be processed and released can you start to get somewhere towards that childlike place. Once you have one tool that seems to work, spend more time with it. master that one thing. If you want, i’ll happily share the magic doorway to “going reptile” with you if you like. Either way, good luck in your quest.
Thanks for sharing that superhero quote of yours. I’m impressed by your coverage of spiritual development, that is rare in our success-driven-world, keep it up!
While I’m at it :-). You inspired me and my (ex-)girlfriend some 10 years ago to work on our business and travel. I think we were the only ones who could really work 4 hours a week. It struck me that no-one in the digital nomad scene even wanted to get to this dream (I’m pretty sure they all read your book), because everybody wanted to work 40+ hours a week.
Maybe a nice idea: interviews with people who really live(d) the four hour workweek. It didn’t make me happy though…..I hated that, the realisation that you need to work to feel happy 🙂
Greetings from Holland!
I love the teaching filled with wisdom, though the words are similar to the words of the bible, a disciplined and principled life would value the shortness of life and also a life that sees this life as passage to another.
TIM!!!! Did you see that scuzz bucket Brian Brushwood with the National Geographic show “Hacking the System”?????? On the fucking cover of it he’s throwing a card at the camera. Quite the fucking coincidence it’s the EXACT same premise as The Tim Ferriss Experiment where you threw poker chips at the camera for the promo photo. Your show started in 2013 and his started in 2014. What a dick. Anyways…
Tim—How do we unsubscribe from the podcast emails (I am subscribed so don’t need them) but stay subscribed to 5-bullet Friday?
I recently started using Head Space, a daily meditation app, which I am sure you are aware of. I have been practicing living in the moment. Thank you for your awesome blog posts. Also, I read your book years ago, and I have to say it has shaped the way I live today. Keep it up!
I recently returned from a business/pleasure trip in Scottsdale AZ. While on the trip I received news from back East that my oldest friend of 30 years past away from leukemia, a battle he was fighting for several years. The next day, I took a desert hike at 6:30 AM at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. If there was any moment in my life where I become acutely aware of the fragility of life and appreciating the now, it was during that hike. Even in my sorrow, the sunrise and the blooming desert flowers never appeared so beautiful than that morning. I appreciate your insightful post.
Best use of my time?
Not listening to 1-2 hour podcasts!
How aboit transcripts so we can skip the booooring parts.
Presence – is ” a natural optimizing movement” we can only learn it, from practicing it.
Unfortunately, we can’t learn to be present by reading books or watching TV. Practice. #nowhere
Thank you Tim.
It is the “refuse to lead me along bypaths” that makes me wonder :”how to reconcile creativity with a “regimented” life? Is “deloading” the answer?
– If imagination is breaking-loose (in the head) Is creativity getting-it-together against a challenging reality ?
I love On The Shortness Of Life and find it a very SLOW and careful read. Two sentences and my mind has gone on a pondering hike. It is also beautifully written — not a wasted word. Good recommendation, Tim.
Really like your quote! “We all like to appear ‘successful’ (a nebulous term at best) and the media like to portray standouts as superheroes…Most ‘superheroes’ are nothing of the sort. They’re weird, neurotic creatures who do big things DESPITE lots of self-defeating habits and self-talk.” I am working with Tom Asacker and his new book “I am Keats.” I think that the two of you would really have a fascinating conversation on this very subject!
Thank you, Tim. I’m really, really liking this new you with a focus on well-being (for lack of a better overall term). I’ve been practicing meditation and mindfulness for a few years now, but I’m finding it’s truly a lifelong pursuit (always room for improvement, depending on what life throws at us each day). Looking forward to reading TOM! Peace, love, and happiness always, Jen
Echoing everyone else by saying, “thank you Tim.”