How Seneca, Attracting Positive Energy, and Happiness Heal Grief

Positive thinking has always been my forté, if not my downfall, since being an optimist doesn’t always prepare me for the horrific. When the worst happened this spring, I had to work at thinking positive. Even cancer and double boobectomies didn’t shut down happiness like death.

I’m a firm believer in the Law of Attraction.

You attract the energy of your thoughts, whether they are positive or negative. What a simple way to live, right? Just think positive and you’ll attract a great life. But it’s hard when you’re grieving and random memories arise like when I notice the safety googles in my garage. “Watch out for your eyes,” my brother used to say at random times; a standing joke from a time when he helped me move out of an apartment. He almost poked his eye out on a table leg. Don’t ask.

I needed help from an old Roman philosopher, Seneca.

There’s no time limit on grief. I read philosopher, Lucia Seneca’s letter yesterday in a Brain Picking’s article by Maria Popova. Seneca wrote to his mother a few millennia ago, when he was banished to Corsica. He told her that distracting yourself from loss makes it worse. Grief will be hanging out when you come back from the Bahamas, or dinner with friends. He was a little more eloquent than that.

“It is better to conquer our grief than to deceive it. For if it has withdrawn, being merely beguiled by pleasures and preoccupations, it starts up again and from its very respite gains force to savage us.”

Instead, Seneca suggested a focus on “liberal arts.”

“I am leading you to that resource which must be the refuge of all who are flying from Fortune, liberal studies. They will heal your wound, they will withdraw all your melancholy.”

Whoa! Would reading end my grief? Cool. I’d start with Tuesdays with Morrie, memorize some Faulkner quotes on dying, and round it off with a little philosophy by reading Camus, Sagan, and the Dali Lama.

I finished Camus’, The Stranger and scratched my head. I mean, the main character was absolutely clueless. He acted more like an amoeba, than a thoughtful man. Then I found out he won the Nobel Prize for introducing philosophy of the absurd. Oh.

It occurred to me the meaning of liberal arts may have changed over time. Wikipedia to the rescue.

*insert mind blown gesture here*

Liberal arts in ancient Greece refers to the education of a “free” person “to know in order to take an active part in civic life, something that (for Ancient Greece) included participating in public debate, defending oneself in court, serving on juries, and most importantly, military service.”

Ha! Maybe Seneca could’ve improved on the defense of his affair with the emperor’s sister had he brushed up on liberal arts. Did he want his mother to educate herself so she could defend herself someday? Nah.

Most likely, he wanted his mother to “take an active part of civic life,” come out of her grief and find a way to contribute to society. He could’ve said, “Join the living, Mom!” But, hey, they lived a few millennia ago.

So am I joining the living? Of course. I never left, but there are moments every day where I remember my brother and it brings me down with the “would have, could have, should haves.” Not anymore.

From Seneca – “Everlasting misfortune does have one blessing, that it ends up by toughening those whom it constantly afflicts.”

I should be badass.

It’s all about choosing happiness.

And this: “It was nature’s intention that there should be no need of great equipment for a good life: every individual can make himself happy.”

Yesterday, I read a blog post by Niki Meadows. This saying caught my attention.

Energy Flows

A great reminder to make the choice to be happy.

Here’s my interpretation:

Thinking positive to attract energy

Between Seneca and Meadows, I awoke with renewed energy. Okay, so I overslept. Now when I think about my brother, I will think about the absurdity of death. I will make the effort to smile when I remember him. Engaging in life will heal the wound. I think I’ll be okay.

 

Have you ever heard of Seneca? Do you believe your thoughts attract energy?

Related posts:

Be Your Own Badass Hero

I Celebrated a Birthday, but Failed to Save a Life

What Seeing Mila Kunis and Asthon Kutcher Taught Me

An Open Letter From My Boobs

Energy, Attention and Intention – Niki Meadows

Seneca’s Consolation to Helvia – Maria Popova, founder and editor of Brain Pickings

44 thoughts on “How Seneca, Attracting Positive Energy, and Happiness Heal Grief

  1. I’ve never heard of Seneca but I’m very interested now! I appreciate you sharing my post. I agree that happiness is a choice. I always say you can’t chase happiness you have to cultivate it. I struggled with depression for over 15 years and learning to change my perspective and be optimistic was very difficult. It took me several years but that’s my new sense of normal. Is my life rainbows and butterflies? No, but I’m also not crippled because of it anymore.

    I’m sorry about the loss of your brother and thankful at the same time that you’ve found a new perspective to help you going forward. Sending you lots of love! ❤

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  2. I have not heard of Seneca, Susie but I do believe in the Law of Attraction. Grief has a mind of its own I’m afraid. This past year has included several deaths of loved ones and now a close family member has cancer. Taking each day at a time has helped me…

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    • I’m so sorry to hear that. Yes, staying in the moment and trying to find joy in the simple things really helps.

      Loss takes time and I loved Seneca’s advice to his mom. Paraphrased – Come out of the darkened room once in a while to find out what’s going on in the world and participate. But he didn’t send the letter until months after he was exiled. He had a lengthy bit about how we need time to be completely “wretched.”
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Energy flows where attention goes is one of my favorite sayings! So glad that you, too, stumbled on it. I learned it from a yoga teacher years ago, and cling to its message tightly. Of course, I was liberally and artfully educated, so what do you expect? 😉 Great thoughts here as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Ally!
      I had planned to stick to writing about my trip, but I had never heard of Seneca either. His letter, so profound, has helped so many with their grief. It helped me make sense of the process!
      Although I’m a HUGE Law of Attraction fan, I had never heard that saying. It really stuck in my mind. An easy reminder to “snap out of it” when feeling bad about stupid stuff. Seneca also said we need time to be wretched with our grief. After a while though, it’s time to join the Wild Rumpus again!
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. The only “Seneca” I’ve heard of is The Seneca Nation of Indians. They are the largest of six Native American nations comprising the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy or Six Nations, a democratic government that pre-dates the United States Constitution. They are known as the “Keeper of the Western Door,” for the Seneca are the westernmost of the Six Nations. In the Seneca language we are also known as O-non-dowa-gah, (pronounced: Oh-n’own-dough-wahgah) or “Great Hill People.”
    My first thought was you were going to share some First Nation wisdom. It would make for an interesting comparison.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It takes time to move on after loss. Some never come out of it. You, my dear, are right in the pulse of society and even write about it! That doesn’t mean that sometimes we miss those we love. I think that’s a big part of life that gets swept over in Western culture. Memories are so important!
      I hope you’re resting!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I believe that your emotions, feelings and thoughts tap into as well as tune into energies. It can be a process and a practice in taking and making the time for yourself. For forgiving yourself and giving back to yourself. It is okay to miss the ones with love – if they are angels or live miles away. It really is about being in the moment with your greatest someones and playing, laughing, having fun, celebrating, making memories, etc. Great Post Today – quite the thinker! Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

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  6. Looks like it’s worth the time to dust off all those high school/college reading assignments that just didn’t get done back then. Sometimes I think that instructors/curriculum are far sighted in shoving materials at students when they are young and have time and abundant brain cells in hopes that something in the future will trigger a remnant of memory and lead to rediscover – when the words/message actually will have actually true impact and meaning.
    Old backwoods ancient relatives’ phrase of “wallowing in your misery” comes to mind. That needs to be done, then they’d go into “count your blessings”: then on with go out with your new view of life and justify your “taking up space on this earth” – make positive movement forward.
    Certainly easier said than done. “Hold warm the memories”, then “outshine the sun”
    (Universal is universal. Didn’t you just hate all those old folksy sayings and perkiness when you were little – or maybe you were spared that HAHA)
    Glad you”re up and riding’ again

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  7. It all depends on one’s intention. If we blather about thinking ‘happy thoughts’ with no focus and without grounding the energy, then no, I don’t think it works. But if we’re clear in our minds, and the integrity of our desires, then yes, what we want and/or need (not necessarily the same thing) does drop by … and if we’re paying attention, (‘attention’ in the spiritual sense of the word, not the ‘sit-up-straight-and-pay-attention-in-school’ sense) we may just catch it and put it to good use. 🙂

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    • That’s my plan! I’m looking for that grounding energy since I tend to hover….
      I think it’s about interpretation too. We can get our panties in a twist over something or try to look at it from another perspective. I’m untwisting my panties after the painters went out to lunch… for three hours today!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You have to keep in mind that the term “liberal arts” includes the word “liberal” which could include just about anything in this day and age. Liberalism has really gone too far if you ask me, but I’m not Wikipedia so what do I know.

    Grief is a weird and complicated thing. No one can explain the intricacies of how it affects each individual person differently. Don’t try to understand it, just acknowledge its presence and embrace whatever memories it carries along on its journey. By accepting it, you prove that you are alive and human – two very good things. Keep thinking those happy thoughts and let the good times find you.

    Hang in there my friend. Hugs.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schidt

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    • At first I thought liberal arts meant the arts enjoyed by “free” people since the Romans are known for their slaves. It was eye opening in that the letter was written so very long ago and still applies today.
      Grief is super weird. I never really escaped from it in Europe, but I still enjoyed myself immensely. I kept thinking, “Why now? I would enjoy it so much more next year.” But that’s how life is. We take what we are given and deal with it. Good thing I was given a great sense of humor and the ability to appreciate those good times when they do arrive!
      Thanks so much for your kind words, Patricia!
      Can you believe the painters were here again today? I can’t wait to get back to normal!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This was very interesting! I have never heard of this philosopher, but I have heard of being positive to attract positivite situations! We say here you have to speak things into being- so if you speak positive things aloud and own them- they will happen. I personally don’t do enough of either. Perhaps I should!

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  10. I don’t know Seneca, and I’ve never thought about my thoughts attracting energy, but now you have me thinking. I strongly believe that being happy is a choice, a choice that every individual makes. And yes, even in grief, we can make a choice to be happy, to remember happy memories. I’m sure there will always be a touch of sadness for those we lost, because, well, we miss them. Yes, choosing to remember happy moments, and choosing to engage in the positive aspects of life, should help guide a person to healing, to happiness. Thank you for your thoughtful post. I’m going to Google Seneca now, along with positive thinking attracting positive energy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I’ve been finding gentle reminders like these at the prefect time.
      Buy the small book, The Secret.” It’s a life changer. I’m wired for positivity so it was a matter of focusing it where I want it to go!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I just listened to a CD of a talk Anthony DeMello gave in New York almost thirty years ago. (Not quite millennia but still.) He said we are tied forever to the things we deny. The only way to move on is to move through.
    I can’t imagine how hard this time has been, but I do know only when I “receive my demons” including accepting the pain of whatever I might be experiencing as part of my life journey can I get past it.
    I’m glad you’re turning towards the light. As a fellow optimist, there are times when I’ve blamed myself for not moving out of my grief faster. “I’m a happy person, I can’t let this get me down,” I’d say. But, I think that just prolonged the pain and confused the heck out of me. Now I focus on moving through.
    I think you’re amazing. But you already know that. 🙂

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  12. You know, I’ve always lumped Seneca in with Cicero for some reason. I know they played on different sides of the field (in more ways than one), but both shared very profound insight that has stood the test of time.

    and that’s probably what sticks me hardest about the truths you share in this post Susie. Our thoughts attract energy. They direct our actions, and influence those of others. This interconnection and its supremacy in our lives is not new. Perceptive people began sharing these truths nearly 2 millennia ago.

    But for some reason, its a lesson I have to keep relearning…

    So thanks for the reminder. And for continuing to be a source of inspiration.

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  13. Pingback: Back in the Water for #SharkWeek | Susie Lindau's Wild Ride

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