Welcome back to Mid-Week Meditations, Lifehacker's weekly dip into the pool of stoic wisdom, and a guide to using its waters to reflect on and improve your life.
Photo by Joe deSousa.
This week's selection comes from the early stoic Hecato of Rhodes. Very little is known of his life, but he was oft quoted by others, such as in this excerpt from Seneca's Moral Letters to Lucilius (IX):
If you ask how one can make oneself a friend quickly, I will tell you, provided we are agreed that I may pay my debt at once and square the account, so far as this letter is concerned. Hecato, says: "I can show you a philtre, compounded without drugs, herbs, or any witch's incantation: 'If you would be loved, love.'" Now there is great pleasure, not only in maintaining old and established friendships, but also in beginning and acquiring new ones. There is the same difference between winning a new friend and having already won him, as there is between the farmer who sows and the farmer who reaps.
What It Means
While Seneca's insight on friendship here is useful - making new friends is just as important as keeping old ones around - it's Hecato's quote on love that's really powerful. A "philtre" is a type of magic potion, so he's basically saying there's no stronger love potion than giving your own love. The quote is often diluted to something along the lines of: "If you wish to be loved, love."
If you've been on the dating scene for what feels like forever and you're starting to feel frustrated and disillusioned with it all, it might be time to take a step back and do a little re-calibrating. We project how we feel to others; people can sense your negative outlook from a mile away, which ruins any chance of things working out. It seems counter-intuitive, but the more you act like things are never going to work out, the longer you'll probably be alone.
What to Take From It
Remember the golden rule: Always treat others the way you want to be treated. If you want someone to love you, give them the very same love you desire. People may not always return it the way you want, but you can't take that as a reason to stop putting your love out there.
You can read all of Seneca's Moral Letters to Lucilius for free here.