September 30

“Even bad fortune is fickle. Perhaps it will come, perhaps not; in the meantime it is not. So look forward to better things.” – Seneca

We all know that bad things are going to happen to us in this life. Some bad things will be so minor that we might not even really consider them when we are thinking about bad things. Some are so terrible that we struggle to even comprehend the amount of influence they will have over our lives when they arrive. And we have absolutely no control over when bad things happen and what those bad things are.

But we do get to control our own thoughts, we get to control our own actions, and we get to control the way we choose to react to the world around us. We get to decide whether or not we are going to worry about the things that might happen, or if we are going to focus on the things we can control. We get to decide whether we would rather assume the worst or if we would rather do our best to prepare for whatever the future might hold and then allow that future to unfold as it will. We get to decide our own type of involvement in this life.

We also get to decide the type of people we would prefer to be. And we get to decide whether or not our actions are congruent with the type of person we would like to be one day.

We need to choose wisely.

virtus fortis vocat


September 29

“And even though it is ordained to be, what does it avail to run out to meet your suffering? You will suffer soon enough when it arrives, until then look forward to better things.” – Seneca

We are going to face hardships in our lives, we might be going through them right now, we might be looking forward to some in the near future, we might have no idea when the next hardship is coming. We have no control over these things.

What we don’t need to be doing is inviting hardships for no reason or creating extra hardships where we might otherwise enjoy some peace and time to focus on other things.

This is best illustrated in our personal relationships but likely if we put in a little effort we can translate it to just about any other situation as well.

A huge part of the friction, disagreements and fights we encounter in our relationships with others has more to do with our expectations of how they should be acting or what they should be saying or doing than it does with what they are actually doing. The good news there is that while we do not get to control the thoughts, words, or actions of other people, we do have complete control over our expectations of them. If we stop having expectations of people and just accept that they are going to be the way they are going to be, we will find ourselves less frustrated in our relationships and we will find ourselves less likely to rush out and create more hardships for ourselves.

virtus fortis vocat


September 28

“That is why no fear is as ruinous and so uncontrollable as panic fear. For other fears are groundless, but this fear is witless.” – Seneca

One of the primary skills we need to learn in order to stay on the path to becoming our best selves is to detach from situations and allow ourselves to see them from the outside just a little bit. This is hard, especially when we are in the middle of a crisis or in the middle of what feels like a crisis to us. It takes discipline to implement this skill, it takes discipline to practice it, and it takes discipline to continue to work at it, especially when we fail. And we will fail.

But if we can learn to detach and look at situations and answer questions like; what do I look like right now? How do I sound right now?  Am I making the right decision for the long term at the moment? Do I have this other person’s best interest in mind? And as we start to ask ourselves these questions, they automatically pull us back from the situation we are in and force us to evaluate it from a different angle.

Eventually, maybe even years from now, we’ll become so good at this that when actual crises emerge, we will be so focused on seeing it from the outside and making the right decisions that we won’t even have time to be afraid, or frustrated or overwhelmed.

And that is part of being our best selves.

virtus fortis vocat

September 27

“For truth has its own definite boundaries, but that which arises from uncertainty is delivered over to guesswork and the irresponsible license of a frightened mind.” – Seneca

We are afraid of things we don’t understand. We tend to take things we don’t understand and assume the worst of them. The trouble with that is that often, the worst things we can imagine are far worse than the way things really are.

This leads to expectations about the world around us, when we have an expectation about the way things should go and they don’t go that way, we often will find ourselves unconsciously trying to control situations. This frustrates us, we try to control things more and we become more frustrated.

All the while, we still don’t have a better understand of the thing we were so afraid of in the first place that we allowed this frantic mental dance to begin. And so we are left again to our own imagination and we give it license to turn this thing we are afraid of into something really monstrous. And the cycle continues on.

We’d be fine if we were able to detach a little bit and recognize that we aren’t afraid, we just don’t understand. We’d be better off if we remembered to control the things we can control, ourselves. And by staying focused on what we can control and by remaining detached, we might just move ourselves to a place of better understanding.

And that is how we become better people.

virtus fortis vocat


September 26

“We agree too quickly with what people say. We do not put to the test those things which cause our fear; we do not examine into them.” – Seneca

When we turn on the radio in the car, when we turn on the television, when we check our social media pages, even when we are in conversation with friends, there is a lot to be afraid of in the world. Or at least it certainly seems that way.

We are constantly bombarded with thoughts about how our health, our bodies, even our ways of life are being threatened by this threat or that group of people. The messages are as old as language, the ideas behind them are likely even older than that, but never before has it been so easy to spread a single message to so many people at the same time.

And never before has it been so easy to create plausible lies that can spur decent people into action towards unthinkable ends.

It might be easy to tell ourselves to vet every source, or to get our information from multiple sources but in reality, we also live in a busy time where our attention is constantly being stolen by distractions purposefully placed all around us.

The way out of the storm is simple but it is also so difficult it will take us a lifetime to master, even then we will likely fail. But small improvements are always better than no improvements. The way out is discipline, self discipline to be exact. Controlling our emotions, controlling our thoughts, controlling our words, and finally controlling our actions. By having control over these four things, we protect ourselves from the lies and traps of the industry of distraction constantly bombarding us from without.

virtus fortis vocat

September 25

“Suppose that your person enjoys freedom and health, that you do not suffer from external injury. As to what happens to it in the future, we shall see later on.” – Seneca

Most of us, those of us with constant internet access, constant electricity, and likely a first world infrastructure that provides us with clean water and sanitation, we will never know what it is like to truly be impoverished.

Hardships will come for us. We will struggle with issues both great and trivial. Chances are however, that most of them will be more trivial than great when we reflect back on them in the future. This doesn’t make them enjoyable now, but it should allow us to have better control over how we react to and think about our hardships.

And having control over how we react to and how we think about the situations we find ourselves in is the only thing we need to do in order to turn those situations into something we can endure and maybe even something we can grow from.

We do ourselves no favors by allowing ourselves to worry about what sort of injuries or hardships life has for us in the future for a number of reasons. The most important is that we can not control what is coming for us, we can control our actions so that we do not heap up troubles unnecessarily. We can control our words so that we aren’t self sabotaging our own relationships and maybe even helping to foster and enrich the ones we have as well as developing new positive relationships. We can control our thoughts so that our mind is trained to see the benefits of situations and to know that while life may try to break us, we have the strength and the ability to endure and grow stronger everyday.

virtus fortis vocat


September 24

“We are in the habit of exaggerating, or imagining, or anticipating sorrow.” – Seneca

If we listen to people as we converse with them – and we should be listening to them – we will discover that many of us choose to define our selves by our problems. We choose to allow our hardships to be the things that we focus on and share with others.

A large part of this is that we often also choose to process and think about our hardships as things that we can somehow exert some control over, so we focus on them, then we become frustrated by them because they do not respond to our attempts to gain control, then we double down our focus, then these things seem to dominate our lives.

Instead of even focusing on our problems or the bad things we are dealing with, we should be focusing on how we are reacting to the things – good and bad – that are happening in our lives. We should be working on our ability to detach and discipline our emotions. We should be thinking about how we are acting in a situation and how we are going to change our actions to accommodate the things that are happening around us.

And if we focus on those things, we won’t have time to focus on what the problems are doing to us because we’ll be too busy actually solving our own problems.

virtus fortis vocat

September 23

“Accordingly, some things torment us more than they ought; some torment us before they ought; and some torment us when they ought not torment us at all.” – Seneca

A lot of stuff is going to happen to us without our consent in life. The day will start whether we want it to or not and it pretty much just keeps snowballing from there. There are some things we control and they are pretty easy to identify. They include our actions, our words, our thoughts, our emotions, and the way we are towards others as well as ourselves. And that’s about it. We can only control those things. But we can control those things as much or as little as we choose to.

When we focus on the things we can not control we spend energy and time and get nothing in return. This leads to frustration. The problem with the frustration is that we often are unable to actually identify what is frustrating us so more often than not, we double down on trying to exert control over the external world. It turns out that doing more of the thing that frustrated us in the first place does not lead to less frustration.

Instead, we should be focusing on the things we can control. The very first thing we need to control is how we are thinking about a situation. Then we need to control how we are acting, and finally we need to control what we are doing and what we are planning to do. If we can do that, we can avoid a lot of unnecessary suffering.

virtus fortis vocat

September 22

“There are more things likely to frighten us then there are to crush us. We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” – Seneca

Bad stuff is going to happen to us. We are going to get sick, we are going to get injured, we will lose money, we will miss out on events, we will have people treat us poorly, and then at the end of it all we are going to die.

But focusing on and worrying about those parts of life aren’t going to take away any of the sting or pain when they finally arrive. It just makes us suffer more than we have to for longer than we have to. And then we still get to experience the hardship. And worse than that, our minds are already primed to suffer. We’ve already made being miserable a habit, are we really going to look at our situation as it is unfolding and say to ourselves, ‘this isn’t so bad?” No. We aren’t.

Instead, we have to start cultivating a different habit, a different mind set. We can convince ourselves that we can handle any hardship by well, convincing ourselves we can handle any hardship. With that mindset, when we start to worry about things that might happen in the future, whether they are health related, financial, social or other issues we can convince ourselves that we will be able to handle them. When they arrive, if we can’t handle them, they must be pretty bad and it would be reasonable to assume that no one could have. At least we won’t have suffered prematurely.

But in reality there are few situations that we can not endure and while some situations will leave us forever changed, we can use even those to become stronger, better.

And that is our life long goal.

virtus fortis vocat


September 21

“For manliness gains much strength by being challenged.” – Seneca

Seneca wrote these words almost two thousand years ago, the technological and sociological advances that have allowed us to live convenient lives free from the fear of being eaten by wild animals or attacked by marauding gangs of cut throat bandits have also largely removed the need for men to be violent and expendable.

But in his day, Seneca was likely using manliness and fortitude interchangeably. At least we are going to go with that today.

Fortitude or resilience can not be claimed, we can not will it into existence and know for sure that we have it. We have to face adversity in order to test and evaluate our levels of fortitude. We have to be challenged in order to know just how much we can take.

And if we are truly going to find out where our limits lie, we also have to be broken every once in awhile. We have to fail. And by failing we are able to recognize our weaknesses and the areas in our own strength and character that we need to focus on developing.

And then we need to put the work into developing those weaknesses into strengths. Sometimes that will be something as simple as finding a few tasks we can work on to improve in a particular area and sometimes it will mean having the humility to ask for someone’s help to cover for our own weakness.

But we won’t know where to start until we fail a few times.

virtus fortis vocat


September 20

“For our powers can never inspire us in implicit faith in ourselves except when many difficulties have confronted us on this side and that, and have occasionally even come to close quarters with us.” – Seneca

If we go though life avoiding difficulty, avoiding conflict, and otherwise doing our best to avoid any discomfort we will end up soft, weak, and unable to offer anything of value to the people around us when they need us the most. Sound harsh? It is but then there are many things we will face in life that are at best, ambivalent to our feelings. Attaining the strength necessary to become the person that others look to when things get hard requires us to allow our feelings to be bashed about quite a bit before we are really useful in that arena.

So when we are faced with the opportunity to deal with an obstacle, have a difficult conversation, or hide from them instead, we should always choose the more difficult path. And if it helps we can look at the more difficult path as an opportunity to make ourselves a little better, a little stronger, and a little more useful. We can look at each difficulty as a type of training session or workout, preparing us to be in the best position possible to help others in the future.

And that should be our goal in most if not all things.

virtus fortis vocat

September 19

“The best ideas are common property.” – Seneca

The best ideas are also commonly stolen. Just because another person has an idea we like, or even if an idea that we come up with has already been done, it doesn’t mean that our execution of the idea is going to be identical to the original.

And if we are going to execute on an idea that we share with someone else who has already had success with the same idea, we need to be able to capture the reason it was successful in the first place. The inspiration that the idea generated in our own minds, in our own lives. That is the part we want to steal. We need to find how the idea generated the inspiration and then we find a way to recreate it in our own way.

And that is how people create art, it is how they write books, it is how they start businesses, and it is how they build meaningful relationships. They look at the part of an idea that moved them and they find the way in which it moved them, and then they recreate it in their own way.

In that sense, we can take any idea, any thought, anything that means something to us and we can find a way to share that meaning through our own work.

And we should. Because that is how the world becomes a better place.

virtus fortis vocat

September 18

“A person is happiest, and is secure in their own possession of themselves, who can await the morrow without apprehension. When a person has said, ‘I have lived,’ every morning they arise they receive a bonus.” – Seneca

We hear it so much that it is almost cliche, everyday is a gift. But at the same time, once we’ve experienced enough of life, we recognize that it’s also very true. Everyday there are so many things that could strip us of this life and take us away from our loved ones. To list them all would be an exercise in overwhelming ourselves with depressing thoughts.

And here comparing our own lives to the lives of other people around us, living on Earth right now, or even those who have come before us is a good way to recognize just how fortunate we are to be here, now.

And when we recognize how full our lives are already, we can appreciate how fortunate we are each morning to get another chance at getting this whole life thing right.

And we should try to do just that everyday. We should take the time and actually map out for ourselves what a perfect day would look like for us if we had to make one out of the lives we currently live. And then, we should aim to have days that mirror the day we have mapped out.

And we should try every day.

virtus fortis vocat

The Dichotomy of Leadership



September 17

“Let us go to our sleep with joy and gladness; let us say: I have lived; the course which Fortune has set for me is finished.” – Seneca

Some of our long term goals will never be completed. We will all have things that are left unfinished when we finally leave this life.

But if we choose to look at our lives as a series of opportunities to create and live out the perfect day, we can end each day with the thought that we lived the best day we could have. Sure there are always going to be things we could have done better. We could have been kinder to our loved ones, helped people more than we did, been more productive, and on and on. But those things are going to be true on our final day as well.

If we are fortunate, we will wake up in the morning and will have been granted the opportunity to attempt to live another day as best we can.

If we can repeat this process every single day for the rest of our lives we will still never have a perfect day. But the days we will have five years from now will be a lot closer to our idea of the perfect day than the days we are having right now.

And that is a life goal worth exploring.

virtus fortis vocat

The Dichotomy of Leadership



September 15

“Death, however, should be looked at in the face by the young and the old alike.” – Seneca

Life can be looked at as a large party. Like any party, there will be some parts of it we truly enjoy and there will be some parts of it that we dread. For some of us, we will dread arriving, we will dread making the small talk, we will dread having to use the bathroom with a line at the door. And for some of us, we will dread leaving.

But all parties end and eventually we all have to leave. Life is no different in that regard.

Life is different than a party in that we never really know when it will be our turn to leave the party.

It is also different in that every moment of the party is near the beginning for many and near the end for many at the same time.

We would be wise to prepare our minds for the end of our party. How do we do this?

By comparing the depth of experience and opportunities we have enjoyed to those who have already left the party. Seneca for example, would likely have been content to live a single day with the amount of knowledge and information available at our fingertips with the advent of the internet. And we take it for granted.

We have already been blessed with lives full of opportunity, we should keep that in mind as we travel through our days. We should be content with what we have been given thus far and should look at every day as a little bit extra.

virtus fortis vocat

The Dichotomy of Leadership

September 14

“Life is most delightful when it is on the downward slope, but has not yet reached the abrupt decline.” – Seneca

As a society, we complain about getting older, we work against the ravages of old age, we esteem youth and beauty, and we marginalize our elderly.

We should keep in mind, that Seneca was writing these words almost two thousand years ago. Life, even for the wealthy, wasn’t exactly easy at any age and would have been harder as a person got older. But here’s Seneca an older than middle aged, wealthy individual finding what we consider our later years to be the most delightful.

There has to be something we can learn from there. And we can. We can strive to also make those years the most delightful for ourselves and for those we will share them with. We do this by setting aside some of our current wealth to carry us through those years. We do it by taking care of our bodies with our diets and our exercise regimens. We prepare to enjoy our downward slope by keeping our minds healthy with learning, conversation, reading, and new experiences.

We do not do this by acquiring wealth at the risk of compromising our integrity. In every situation, the best way to increase the amount of wealth we have is not to try to get more. It is always to need less. The less we need, the more we have.

virtus fortis vocat

The Dichotomy of Leadership

September 13

“Happy is the man who can make others better, not merely when he is in their company, but even when he is in their thoughts.” – Seneca

We don’t actually get to control what people think of us. We don’t get to control how they see our actions or how they hear the things we say. We have zero control over the things they say about us when we are not around.

We do get to control how we act and how we speak and that should be our only focus. We can share with people what we meant, our actual intentions, and how we would like to be perceived until we are blue in the face but if our actions don’t match our words, people will know. People see through fake people.

But if we keep our actions inline with the type of person we want to be, eventually, our actions and the words we speak will help shape the way we impact people’s lives. It takes time, this is especially true if we have been known to be a bit full of the fertilizer in the past. It just takes time. Time and effort.

But when we start to get that feedback. When we start to see that we have a positive impact on people, one that is lasting, it takes hold and we will want nothing more than to continue to make people’s lives a little richer just by being a part of it.

And most importantly, we will do it by being the people we want to be.

Our best selves.

virtus fortis vocat

Discipline Equals Freedom

September 12

“For by no wisdom can natural weaknesses of the body be removed. That which is implanted and inborn can be toned down by training, but not overcome.” – Seneca

Anyone who has ever interviewed for a position with a company or organization has likely been asked to describe their biggest weakness. The idea behind it likely being that people who understand their own limitations will also understand the need to collaborate with people whose strengths complement their own weaknesses. People who can recognize and talk about their weaknesses are also more likely to work on improving in these areas. This makes them better leaders. We all need to be leaders, even if we are only leading ourselves.

But we also need to recognize that our weaknesses, whether they are things we have had for life or if they are weaknesses we have allowed to develop, they will always be there. We can work to minimize their effects, we can build new habits and new strengths to counteract our weaknesses, we can even work at turning weaknesses into strengths but they will always be there.

Our weaknesses will always haunt us in the background, even when we are at our best. We will never be completely rid of them. They lie there waiting, waiting for us to have a bad day, for us to get tired, for us to get weak. And then they will bubble to the surface, we might not even recognize it when they come.

That is why we need to stay vigilant, we need to recognize our weaknesses and we need to be working to keep them at bay, to minimize their effects. Every single day. As we build healthy habits, it will become easier. But they will always be there, waiting for us to tell ourselves we can relax a little, let our guard down.

And that is why we have to stay vigilant.

virtus fortis vocat

The Dichotomy of Leadership

September 11

“When persons are in mourning, or fearful about something, we are accustomed to watch them that we may prevent them from making a wrong use of their loneliness.”        – Seneca

How often do we find ourselves watching over ourselves, when we are lonely, anxious, or maybe just bored? This is when we will find ourselves at our most self destructive and we will find ourselves more likely to self sabotage.

Whether we are trying to quit smoking, start exercising, or just eat a little better we will always find that the times we stray from those goals are times when we have the down time to allow ourselves to self sabotage.

Whether we are talking ourselves into making the wrong choices, rationalizing it by comparing ourselves to our peers, or allowing the weakness to creep in under what we thought were our best defenses, we will find that when we are engrossed in other more productive endeavors, we don’t struggle with these things as much. Not to say we should keep ourselves busy for the sake of being busy but it would do well by us to find several projects at a time that require a good deal of our attention and ability. Things we may have always wanted to accomplish. Maybe some things we have always wanted to learn. And when we find ourselves with some down time, we should pull out these projects and work on them for a little while. We should carry with us the books we want to read, the things we want to learn. And when stuck waiting, we should use that time to read, to learn, to improve. Ten minutes of reading three times a week works out to twenty six hours a year.

As we develop this into a habit, it will get easier. We’ll get used to pulling out a book instead of lighting a cigarette or reaching for junk food.

Our lives are made up of a composite of all of our little choices. Let’s make them the ones we want them to be.

virtus fortis vocat

The Dichotomy of Leadership


September 10

“It matters not what one says, but one feels; also, not how one feels on one particular day, but how one feels at all times.” – Seneca

Deciding to start down any path of self improvement in any direction is going to be difficult. Actually sticking to the path is going to prove even more difficult.

Whether we want to be in better shape. Or if we want to learn new skills. Or if we want to start a business. Or we want to improve our relationships. Maybe we want to be better parents. Maybe we want all of those things.

Here’s the big message we can never forget if we want to succeed; we will not want to take steps on the path every single day. In fact, most days we probably won’t want to take as many steps as we could or should. And that is kind of the point. Any lath to improvement is hard, if it wasn’t it wouldn’t be improvement, it would just be how we all were.

But we can’t count on being motivated or waiting until we feel like taking steps along the path, that is the best way to ensure that we stagnate and give up.

We need to have discipline, we need to have control over our thoughts. When our mind tries to rationalize with us that we made enough progress on the path yesterday, and that today we can rest, we need to resist those thoughts and take the steps. Even when we really don’t want to, especially when we really don’t want to. Those are the days that matter.

No matter which path we have chosen.

virtus fortis vocat

The Dichotomy of Leadership

September 9

“The Stoic also can carry his goods unimpaired through cities that have been burned to ashes; for he is self sufficient. Such are the bounds which he sets to his own happiness.”    – Seneca

When we are aware of what we can control and what we can not, and we can start along the path of focusing on the things we can control while accepting the things we can not control we find a level of contentment that can’t be shaken.

If we are only focused on controlling our thoughts, our actions, how we respond to the world around us, and how we allow the world around us to affect us, we can endure just about anything.

If we take the time to read stories of people who survived being prisoners of war, being trapped in major natural disasters, or being imprisoned for political reasons we find that at some level every single one of them were able to endure their predicament because they learned to focus their energy only on what they could control. And more importantly, they learned not to allow the things they could not control to affect their attitude or their emotions.

If focusing on what they could control helped people through such dire situations, how much more helpful will we find it navigating our relatively luxurious lives?

Much, much more.

virtus fortis vocat

The Dichotomy of Leadership

September 8

“If the good seeks any portion of itself from without, it gives over to the play of Fortune.”    – Seneca

We control only a few things in this world and none of them are outside of ourselves. If we find ourselves looking for benefits from the outside world we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. We need to be prepared to depend on ourselves for validation, we can certainly use the responses of the outside world for feedback but we don’t control the responses of the outside world.

If we find ourselves expecting our relationship with a spouse or significant other to provide us with emotional validation or a sense of self worth, we are going to find ourselves disappointed. We do not control how our loved ones act towards us or what they provide within the confines of a relationship.

If we find ourselves looking to our profession to provide our sense of identity we are going to find ourselves not feeling fulfilled. We do not control how the world views our profession or how they react to our professional contributions. We can’t control people reacting poorly to us and undermining our careers with complaints or damaging our reputations with lies. We can’t control unfair competition or new, unfair regulation of our industries.  These things are outside of our control but can still derail even the strongest professional.

If we find ourselves dependent on our wealth for a sense of self worth we will find ourselves in a vulnerable position. Our wealth can be taken away by changes in markets, by unforeseen situations we find ourselves in, or by political destabilization of our regions. And we are powerless to do anything about it.

If instead we focus on ourselves and the things we do control and we put our values there, these things can not be taken away from us. We could find ourselves broke, homeless, and even imprisoned and we would still maintain our sense of self worth, our identity, and our sense of validation. In fact, when we focus on the things we can control, our struggles strengthen these things rather than detracting from them.

virtus fortis vocat

The Dichotomy of Leadership

September 7

“He craves as many friends as possible, not, however, that he may live happily; for he will live happily even without friends.” – Seneca

The key to living happily comes down to knowing what we can and what we can not control and then focusing our energy and time only on the things we can control. We might think that this doesn’t relate to our friendships or social relationships and that thought would lead us into having expectations about how a friendship should work. When these expectations are not met, this eventually leads to resentment, even small amounts of resentment, that will eventually undermine the foundation of what could have been a wonderful relationship.

We have control over only one person in any relationship. Ourselves. And if we focus on that and control our thoughts, our words, and our actions we can work towards becoming the best friend possible to those around us.

If we do that, many of our friends will come to value us immensely, because we will always have their best interests in mind. Some people will be turned off by us because we will reflect qualities that they recognize as lacking in their own lives. And some people will just not like us. But we have no control over the thoughts and actions of others.

And the sooner we accept that, the happier we will be.

virtus fortis vocat


September 6

“The wise man is sufficient unto himself for a happy existence, but not for mere existence. For he needs help towards mere existence; but for a happy existence he needs only a sound and upright soul, one that despises Fortune.” – Seneca

Life is going to heap some misery on us and it is going to dole out some blessings as well. Neither of these are necessarily reflective of how well we are doing or what we really deserve in life. Life isn’t really like that, we don’t all get what we deserve and sometimes life is really hard and for some of us life will be relatively easy. And we have no control over that.

We do however, have control over our own minds, our actions, our reactions, and our thoughts. Well we should anyway and we can learn to gain control over these things. And by doing just that, that little thing we unlock the secret to so much of life’s happiness.

Learning what we have control over and what we do not is not complicated, we have control over ourselves. That’s it.

Then we simply have to exert that control at all times towards the best possible outcome and we will be happy. Simple right? Simple yes. Easy, not so much. In fact learning and mastering self control is likely the most difficult thing we will face in our lifetime.

It is also the most rewarding. It is the key to a happy life.

virtus fortis vocat


September 5

“One who seeks friendship for favorable occasions, strips it of all its nobility.” – Seneca

Friendship is a great gift to give another person but it is even better to receive it yourself. The best way for us to have friends who think well of us, would drop everything they were doing to help us, and return our friendship with true friendship is for us to actually be true friends.

A true friend wants nothing from us but everything for us. A true friend wants to see us succeed in every endeavor and is there to protect us from as many hardships as possible. Even when we are the source of our own hardships as we often are.

The best way to have a true friendship, is to be a true friend to others.

If we find ourselves in any situation thinking about what is truly best for our friend and doing our best to be sure that is going to be the outcome, in any area we can control of course, we might just be true friends to that person.

Too often, however, we will have friendships that we see as a give and take. Too often, we might expect a friend to pull their own weight. These are not true friendships and they aren’t true friendships simply because we are not being true friends.

We’d do better to be true friends. Even if it means having fewer friends.

virtus fortis vocat

Buy an Instant Pot

September 4

“For what purpose the, do I make friends? In order to have someone for whom I may die, whom I may follow into exile, against whose death I may stake my own life, and pay the pledge, too.” – Seneca

A paradox about being successful, or even feeling successful, in this life is that it is incredibly rare to attain a reasonable level of success without having also provided a comparable level of service to others.

Why not apply this also to our personal lives? Imagine for a moment just how much better all of our relationships will be if we turned our focus from what we are getting out of them to what we are giving to the people in our lives.

At the most basic and personal level, let’s imagine if we worked an entire day, came home and made dinner, while dinner was cooking we emptied the dishwasher and prepared everything for the day tomorrow, after dinner; we cleaned up, put away any clean laundry, started any dirty laundry, emptied the cat boxes, took out the recycling, and still had a good attitude while we did it. Then imagine that we lived with a spouse, a room mate, another human being who was trying to do the same thing. Life would be easy.

And it can be, if we live our lives with the goal of making life a little better for everyone around us, our lives will become infinitely better.

And like many things, it’s best to start at home.

virtus fortis vocat


September 3

“When one is busy and absorbed in one’s work, the very absorption affords great delight; but when one has withdrawn one’s hand from the completed masterpiece, the pleasure is not so keen.” – Seneca

As humans, we are happiest when we are operating within the moment. When we are so engrossed in a subject that we lose track of time, we forget to eat, we don’t even realize that we’ve had to pee for an hour until we take a short break and have to do a run-dance combo to the bathroom, that is when we are the most content. When we finish a project, when are done reading a book, when we have to leave a job, we feel a sadness, a break as if a part of our lives is over. And it is.

We would do ourselves a favor to pay attention to that feeling, to use it to identify the areas of a project, a book, or a job that we are going to miss the most. And we can use this knowledge to guide us towards our next move.

If we use this method a few times we will find ourselves reading things we truly enjoy, working on projects that bring us immense satisfaction, and possibly even a career we never really want to retire from.

And that would be a life well built.

virtus fortis vocat


September 2

“In this sense the wise man is self sufficient, that he can do without friends, not that he desires to do without them.” – Seneca

We are social creatures. In fact, one of the components to a long and healthy life is having a decent amount of social engagement. Being involved in our communities gives us a sense of purpose, it also gives us things to look forward to. Both of these give us reasons to go on and reasons to take care of ourselves.

But, as we move along the path to becoming the best versions of ourselves we can become there will be periods of time where we have to travel alone. Alone in this case may be literal, it may also be figurative as in we lose the ability to confide in the people closest to us. This might be because we have gown apart from our current circle of friends, it might be that people no longer want to spend time with us, or we might find that we no longer want to spend time with others. Whatever the case, we should look at these moments as temporary and important to our personal development.

We should use our solitary time to develop skills and abilities in ourselves that make us better friends, better family members and better community members when we are able to return to our communities both physically and mentally.

We should get good at being alone so that we can become better at being in a community.

virtus fortis vocat


September 1

“Despise everything that useless toil creates as an ornament and an object for beauty.”       – Seneca

Many of us have likely looked forward to a day where we no longer have to work, we can kick back and sip a beverage in the sun and just enjoy doing nothing. The problem with not working is that it will literally kill most of us.

We are made to work. Sure we can enjoy some well deserved down time but if we are honest with ourselves, if we really pay attention to what makes us happy, we will recognize that we are made to be productive.

We are made to be useful, when we do not feel useful we stagnate, when we stagnate our health declines. The reasons for this aren’t terribly well understood at this point. It likely has something to do with a sedentary lifestyle, poor health choices related to diet and sleep patterns and increased risk of depression and other mental health issues.

Regardless of the reasons, being idle is bad for our health. This doesn’t mean we need to be working right up until the day we die nor does it mean that we can’t enjoy some down time. But we should avoid feeling stagnant, we should avoid feeling useless, and we should avoid the illusion that leisure is better than productivity.

We should get some exercise daily, we should read to learn, we should build things, make things, create art, make new friends, and be involved in our communities.

And we should do these things daily.

virtus fortis vocat