How Did Seneca Make Himself Anti-Fragile Despite Being Wealthy?

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Seneca was among the wealthiest people in the Roman Empire. He was also one of the greatest practitioners of the stoic philosophy.

While Stoicism is about looking down on living a luxurious life, avoid pursuing wealth, fame and fortune, Seneca seems to have had a different take.

He practised stoicism by making himself antifragile from fate. He wanted all the upside from fate but made himself immune from the downside.

(Also read: Directives For Living A Miserable Financial Life)

There is an asymmetry when you’re successful and wealthy. You have a lot to lose than to gain. You are anti fragile if you have nothing. Since nothing can be taken away from you.

Asymmetry is when the harm caused from the loss of a certain amount of wealth, say $1,000 is higher than the joy of gaining that amount.

As you get richer, you also gain the pain and fear of losing your wealth. You continue to live under stress. Your belongings take control of you. You lose the ability to enjoy the simpler things in life as you take pride in your new found ability to enjoy nothing but the best.

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All downside. No upside.

Seneca tackled this fragility by writing off his possessions. He would contemplate the impermanence of the world. He would practice negative visualisation. He would practice losing everything. He would never be harmed with losses.

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For example, he always started his journey with the same amount of material he would have if he were to be shipwrecked. He practiced poverty.

Seneca made himself anti-fragile to downside. He kept the good. Ditched the bad. Cut the downside. Kept the upside.

Seneca eliminated the harm from downside. Un-philosophically kept the upside.

He was the master of controlling his emotions. An epitome of anti-fragility.

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