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  • Lady Fortune is the giver and taker of gifts.

  • Prosperity is often viewed as the time when we receive gifts from her and adversity as

  • the time when we lose them.

  • Prosperous times can inflate us and make us feel as if we're flying over the entire

  • world.

  • Adversity can deflate us and make us feel like the weight of the whole world is on our

  • backs.

  • Seneca, a Stoic philosopher, believes that this prosperity/adversity dichotomy is an

  • illusion.

  • Prosperity isn't always good.

  • It can inflate you so much that, like Icarus, you fly too close to the sun and ultimately

  • fall towards doom when your wings melt off.

  • Adversity isn't always bad.

  • Carrying a little bit of weight can strengthen you and, like the Greek titan Atlas, you do

  • a lot of good for others by bearing what they can't.

  • A little bit of prosperity can give way to adversity and a little adversity to prosperity.

  • Seneca wants us to see the world more clearly.

  • He wants us to overcome this illusion, and that begins by understanding the Stoic concepts

  • of Nature, Fortune, and virtue.

  • You can imagine the world as a giant organism called Nature which we're all tiny pieces

  • of.

  • You're simultaneously apart of Nature and apart from itlike a circle within a circle.

  • There's you and everything that's not you.

  • You're always in a negotiation with the rest of Nature: you both give and take from

  • each other.

  • You act on it, and it acts on you.

  • Lady Fortune oversees the negotiation between the two of you.

  • What she gives to you, she takes from the rest of Nature.

  • What she takes from you, she gives back to the rest of Nature.

  • Regardless of how we intend to act, the way our actions manifest themselves in the world

  • is dependent on Fortune.

  • We can aim our bow perfectly, but the wind can still blow our arrow away from the target.

  • Even the fruits of our labor are subject to the winds of Fortune.

  • Sometimes, they blow right past us into the hands of another.

  • Fortune is chaotic, impulsive, and unpredictable.

  • She brings things into and out of our lives, and often, we don't know why.

  • The Stoic realizes that anything that can be given or taken by Fortune was never theirs

  • in the first place: it was merely rented out to them.

  • If we get too attached to specific gifts that are given to us, we'll feel poorer when

  • she decides to take them back.

  • The Stoic must learn to be indifferent to the whims of Fortune and focus on what's

  • truly valuable: their relationship with the rest of Nature.

  • Everywhere we go, the rest of the universe is there.

  • Our relationship with Nature is constant but dynamiclike a marriage we can't get out

  • of.

  • We always have the ability to take what we've been given to improve the world around us.

  • And, as a citizen of the world, everything that's truly good for it is also good for

  • us.

  • When we can't improve the world, we're challenged to improve ourselves.

  • And, what truly benefits us also benefits the world.

  • Remember, in the Stoic view, we're all a part of a greater whole called Naturewe're

  • all interconnected.

  • By making their relationship with Nature their highest value, the Stoic can actually overcome

  • Fortune by seeing everything that she does as a gift.

  • Even if she were to take a loved one or all of our wealth, a gift is still given: misery.

  • Misery is a bitter medicine.

  • It's a violent surgeryan amputationrequired to save the whole body.

  • Misery can cure us of deceptive thoughts and incorrect ways of viewing the world.

  • It's a chance to rethink our core beliefs, approach life with a better perspective, and

  • overcome ourselves.

  • And, once we overcome our own misery, we may be able to help others do the same.

  • The Stoics encourage us not to place too much value on the gifts of Fortune: they're always

  • in flux.

  • But, wherever you go, two things always remain: your character and the universe around you.

  • You can always act on the world to improve it, and it can always act on you to improve

  • youif you let it.

  • The person who can turn everything Fortune gives them, even when it's misery, into

  • a benefit for themselves, and the world around them, is virtuous.

  • The virtuous person overcomes Fortune.

  • No such thing as a loss can exist for them.

  • Everything that they've been given becomes everything that they need to better themselves

  • and the world around them.

  • In a sense, the one who overcomes Fortune becomes Fortune and gains the ability to create

  • their own good luck.

Lady Fortune is the giver and taker of gifts.

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B1 fortune stoic adversity nature prosperity misery

Seneca — How to Create Your Own Luck

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    Summer posted on 2021/03/19
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