Seneca on books and wealth

Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote this in one of his letters to his friend Lucilius:

Be careful, however, lest this reading of many authors and books of every sort may tend to make you discursive and unsteady. You must linger among a limited number of master thinkers, and digest their works, if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind. Everywhere means nowhere.

The idea is to not be in perpetual locomotion and jump from one book or author to another…but to sit back, contemplate, and relate the facts you read to each other. But start reading if you haven’t already, and start now, or you would miss out on the huge compounding benefits of the same as years pass.

At the end of this very letter, Seneca also shared his thoughts on the limits of one’s wealth.

He says: “Contented poverty is an honorable estate.” Indeed, if it be contented, it is not poverty at all.

It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.

What does it matter how much a man has laid up in his safe, or in his warehouse, how large are his flocks and how fat his dividends, if he covets his neighbors property, and reckons, not his past gains, but his hopes of gains to come?

Do you ask what is the proper limit to wealth?

It is, first, to have what is necessary, and, second, to have what is enough.

Source: Letter 2: On Discursiveness in Reading

Following is the link to complete collection of letters from


Only The Poor or Super Rich Say “Money Can’t Buy Happiness”

Money can’t buy happiness? That’s just wishful thinking. ~ Ruth Whippman

Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness, But…

It’s a saying that comes up time and time again. So many people will continue to tell you that money doesn’t buy happiness. They’ll tell you stories of all the people who won the lottery, only to be miserable a few short years later. They’ll tell you tales of humble folks who couldn’t be more satisfied with their lives.

Neither Doesn’t Being Poor

So, money can’t buy happiness, right? Well, that’s only part of the picture. Another way to think about it is that poverty isn’t going to bring you happiness either. In fact, poverty is much more likely to make you pretty darn miserable.

A number of studies have indicated that there is a certain level of diminishing returns when it comes to wealth and income. After you make enough to take care of your family’s basic needs — housing, food, clothing, etc. — more money won’t necessarily make you any happier. You might be able to buy nice things, but that 3BHK house isn’t going to make you much happier than a 5BHK house.

That’s one way that most people incorrectly approached this “problem” of being wealthy. They think that they can just buy nice things, throw extravagant parties and be happy. It doesn’t work that way. Money is a means, not an end.

It Can Buy Freedom

And that’s really what it comes down to. Money, in and of itself, probably can’t buy you happiness. But if you use it correctly, it can be an invaluable tool that can provide greater flexibility, incredible freedom, and a much improved sense of self-worth.

Money isn’t evil. Money doesn’t equal happiness. Money is neutral and it’s what you make of it that counts.

Closing Remark

When people start telling you money can’t buy happiness, take a good hard look at their finances. They are likely telling you this because they don’t have much money themselves. They haven’t tasted the freedom money buys. If they are super rich, then you know they are just trying to blend in and not look selfish.

Money can buy happiness because money buys peace of mind and opportunities for great experiences. Don’t be fooled by ego-consoling research and those who espouse! They are just trying to keep you from achieving your financial goals so they can feel better about themselves.


Rich people think differently

Fitzgerald and Hemingway

Quote from Fitzgerald and Hemingway

While going through the Quora thread “Do billionaires know something that normal people don’t? [1]”, I learned a new word called “billionaire mentality” and realized that Rich people think differently than the average person. Being able to maintain wealth over a long period of time is not something easy if you don’t have the right mentality.

How would you explain that a large number of lottery winners who go broke after a few years?

They don’t have the rich people mentality.

I think following story shows one of the the differences:

Paul has a job but complains he doesn’t have enough money. He is annoyed at all the yards in his neighborhood that aren’t well-kept. James lives in the same neighborhood. He wants to live a financially secure life. He notices the lawns, too.
What will Paul and James do about these yards?

Paul’s friend, Sam, is disabled and tells Paul: “I wish I could mow all these lawns and trim bushes, but I’m physically unable to. Why don’t you do it?” Paul says, “It will cost too much. It will take up my weekend.”

James says: “I think these owners need some help with their yards. I could make another $100 a week mowing these lawns. I will start right now to offer my services.”

After three decades of interviewing self-made rich people, Steve Siebold, author of “How Rich People Think,” has come to the conclusion that well-to-do people have views about money that are “polar opposite” to those that middle-class people hold. His book reveals 100 differences between middle-class people and self-made millionaires.

At the end of the day, getting rich is an inside job. “Let’s set the record straight once and for all: Anyone can become wealthy,” Siebold writes. “It has nothing to do with your education or where you come from. It’s not what you do that guarantees wealth, it’s what you are.”

“Some people say money is evil, but I don’t agree. If I manage it well and make good use of it, it’ll only make my life better.”

Books for further reading:

POOR LITTLE RICH SLUM – A land of opportunity for many more

We can be happy, we can be hopeful, we can be enterprising – no matter where we are.

Dharavi is like an elephant of issues and blind men scrambling all over it, each sees a small part of it and considers it to be “whole”.
To the residents of Dharavi, it is a way of life. To the business man who operates in Dharavi, it is convenience, cheap labor and cheap rent makes it a mega-hub of micro enterprises.

“Idhar sab tarah ka kaam hota hai.”

Dharavi is a silent revolution of energy and enterprise, it started with arrivals of migrants from Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and UP and with them, they brought business with them. It was wide open space in Dharavi which attracted people and allowed industries to flurish.

“Jab mere dada yahan aaye the, idhar kuch bhi nahi tha…” is a constant refrain.

The book POOR LITTLE RICH SLUM by Rashmi Bansal and Deepak Gandhi is a journey into the enterprising side of Dharavi. This is the fourth book by writer, entrepreneur and youth expert Rashmi Bansal, Co-authored with Deepak Gandhi and with insightful photographs by Dee Gandhi, the layout of this new bookPoor Little Rich Slum is interesting – though the font size could have been larger.

“What makes this book stand out is the heartfelt intention and initiative of the authors and the photographer to perceive life from the point of view of the people living in Dharavi.”

Characters like Mustaqueen Bhai whose stitching work has brought him customers not just from Mumbai and other parts of India but also from Mexico, Panama and Brazil; Panju Swamy – the owner of Ayyappan Idli Stall; Rani Nadar of the ‘Rebe Rubi’ tailoring center where she “continues to sew hopes and dreams” in-spite of the fact that “Dharavi cannot be fixed with a few stitches,”; Praveen Sakpal of the Gurudutt Gymnasium whose boys have made it as bodybuilders representing district and state levels – all of them and many more such inspiring people and organizations make Poor Little Rich Slum a worthwhile, deserving read.

“Yahan sab kuch hai – paisa achha hai, log ache hain, par aasmaan nahi hai, jaan hai, jahaan nahi hai.”

Here, everything is there – money is good, people are nice but there is no sky. Life is there but there is no world.

It would be best to end the review by highlighting some of the powerful quotes in the book:

  • “A child who grows up in Dharavi may be poor but does not feel inferior.” – activist Raju Konde
  • “Education has opened our minds like a parachute.” – Mushtaq Syed, INMA Enterprises
  • “People here are not beggars, they are hard-working and self-sufficient. There is something to be learnt from us.” – Fahim Vora and Tauseef Siddiqui, Dharavi