Secrets of why good character is invaluable – letter 27

In these series of blog posts I attempt to translate the Moral letters to Lucilius by Seneca into modern English. In letter 27 Seneca describes the importance of having a good character.

You may ask why I’m giving you some advice, especially when I’m not perfect myself. No, before you say it, I’m not a hypocrite. Nor is dishing out advice a hobby of mine. Rather, by giving you feedback I can consider my own character flaws. Could I also take my own advice too to improve my character? In other words, will my advice to you make me a better person as well?

By thinking in this way then we can both make sure we live good lives. By following this advice we won’t have many regrets when we’re dying. We’ll know that we’ve tried to live a virtuous existence and our character was as great as it could be.

Character and past regrets

None of us know when we will die so its important to start this process now. Anything we are not proud of may come back to haunt our thoughts. Past regrets can linger in our minds. So the sooner we live well, the better it is for us. Another benefit is that when you can understand what it means to you to live a good life, then day to day problems will come and go. They will be like a cloud floating past the sun.

So, lets not delay in making these improvements. You can’t expect someone else to do this for you. Decide how you can control yourself and devise your own strategies for change. You can’t delegate this activity. Don’t overthink how best to start. Experience and mistakes are a great tutor.

So in signing off I’ll say this: you don’t need money to be rich. For example, you can’t buy love, integrity and friendship. You can be poor but if you have these things then this is real wealth. Think about this as much as you can. Some people will take this advice on board, others will need it shoved down their throats.

Take care.

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