Plutarch of Chaeronea was one of the more influential philosophers of the early period along with Augustine of Hippo and Aristotle of Stagira.
Plutarch was an author, biographer and philosopher who was born in the ancient town of Chaeronea, Greece in 46 AD.
Plutarch wrote more than 220 pieces of work in his lifetime.
Some of his more important works include the Bioi parallēloi or Parallel Lives and a series of essays on various topics called the Ethica.
I have been long fascinated by the simple and yet profound work of Plutarch. I believe that some of his words of wisdom have the potential to change our life for the better.
In this day and age of technology, it is amazing that the words of a philosopher written almost 2000 years ago still rings true to our life.
Here are 15 ideas from the wisdom of Plutarch that have the potential to transform your life:
1. Use The Power Of Your Mind To Come Alive
“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” ― Plutarch
This is a highly relevant message from Plutarch of Chaeronea and its ramifications are all too relevant in this day and age.
This is the day and age of information and a great amount of information is coming at you from all directions at a dizzying pace.
It seems that there is a great race on for the person who knows the most or is able to assimilate the most information.
DO you feel overwhelmed with an information overdose sometimes?
I believe that Plutarch’s words can give you a great deal of relief.
Change the focus of your attention towards the skill and the passion that most matter to you.
Instead of filling up your mind with more information, kindle a fire in your mind.
Kindle a fire that breathes action and engagement in your most cherished desires.
Instead of catching up with more information, come alive in your greatest interests.
Do what you love to do on a daily basis and as the famous quote goes, the world need more people who have come alive.
2. The Amazing Power Of Deep Listening
“Know how to listen, and you will profit even from those who talk poorly.” ― Plutarch
It would be an understatement to say that humans love the sound of their own voice. Let us face it, we all love to speak and get delighted when others listen to us with rapt attention.
Plutarch challenges you to become a deep listener and learn how to listen better.
When you accomplish deep listening, you have a great tool of life and awareness at your ready disposal.
How can you listen better?
Do not interrupt others.
Express enthusiasm in what others have to say.
Instead of thinking of something else while others speak, bring your awareness and attention to their voice.
Shut off the distractions while listening to others. The social media update can wait a few minutes.
When you decide to deeply listen, your life transforms immediately.
You begin to gain the respect of others who want to get their word in, and you will not miss important information.
3. How To Find Love And Trust
“Evidence of trust begets trust, and love is reciprocated by love.” ― Plutarch
As Plutarch says, the best way to develop trust is to be trustworthy and the best way to infuse more love into your life is to give some love.
These are issues that most of us had to deal with some points of our life or another.
You may be wondering that even after your best efforts, why people are sometimes wary of trusting your ideas and intentions.
Are you keeping your word to others?
Are you returning mails and communication on time?
Are you allowing yourself to be dependable?
Do you complete things on time as you agreed on before?
Are you willing to give back your time and effort in return?
Are you repeating the same errors after saying that you will not?
Do you express gratitude and appreciation to others?
Are you saying what you are doing and doing what you are saying?
Do you arrive on time for your appointments and engagements in you personal and professional life?
Even though some of the above might not sound like a big deal to you, they might mean a lot to other people.
Even small actions that do not sound like much can slowly erode trust over time and as we all know trust is quite difficult to build.
When you show trust, caring, love and compassion even in your small actions, people become more comfortable around you.
4. Surround Yourself With People Who Can Transform You
“I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.” ― Plutarch
This is a difficult one to digest because we love people who say yes to everything we do and say.
When someone says something that is contrary to your philosophy of life or your opinion, do you disregard them and shut them off?
The problem with surrounding the self with “yes people” is that they will not point out your shortcomings and your blind sights.
Plutarch says that your shadow can do a better job of being a “yes person” and yes friends do not serve your interests.
Surround yourself with people secure in their own self-belief to point out your mis-steps when necessary.
I know that the general advice is to surround yourself with people who support you and I do not disagree with that.
Nobody wants to be around hypercritical people who point mistakes but do not offer anything to ease the situation.
Make sure that you also interact and become friends with people who:
Call you out when necessary.
Perform the role of being an inspiration and act like a mentor.
Show your mistakes in a digestible format and point you in the correct direction.
Have a mind and ideas of their own, even though it means that they disagree with you.
Perform skills and have hobbies that are different from yours.
5. The Quickest Way To See Outer Results
“What we achieve inwardly changes our outer reality.” ― Plutarch
This nugget from Plutarch is small but effective advice to transform your life.
If you do not believe in yourself inside…you will find it hard to believe what you do and say on the outside.
If you feel great strife and stress inside…you will find it impossible to live at peace.
If you are deeply unhappy inside…smiling outside will not be of much solace.
If you feel guilt and shame to be your true self…you will always ask permission from everyone else to be you.
If you doubt everything inside…your actions will reflect that self-doubt and you will hesitate to take action.
If you fear many things inside…you will find it difficult to display courage.
If you do not feel any self-love and approval inside…you will sell yourself short when asking for what you deserve.
You do have a choice.
Take a peek inside at your inner dialogue and your deepest beliefs and thoughts and feelings.
When you transform your inner state, the outer transforms to reflect that change.
We know through psychology that people mirror or project on the outside what they feel and believe on the inside.
6. Sometimes It Is Just Better To Be Silent
“Silence at the proper season is wisdom, and better than any speech.” ― Plutarch
Can we say anything more about this universal truth from Plutarch?
Learning when to be silent and when to speak is a great art.
7. Live Like You Have No Time To Lose
“The whole of life is but a moment of time. It is our duty to use it, and not to misuse it.” ― Plutarch
Plutarch is right on with this one because in the larger scheme of things, our lives are a blink of the eye on the shores and sands of time.
What are you doing with the time that you have?
Do you have regrets for not doing or going for something?
Do you feel like your time fills up with needless details and you do not have the time to focus on the important stuff?
When you realize that the present moment is precious, you understand and live like you have limited time. You develop the urgency to shake off things that do not matter.
You transform your life to prioritize the most important things that mean the most to you.
What are the things that matter to you most?
8. Habits Make The Person
“Character is simply habit long continued.” ― Plutarch
The structures and habits that you have set up in your life will define your life and will determine the direction that your character will shape towards.
Character is usually the sum of a set of values that we develop and much of those values are habitual in nature.
As you set up habits and structures that support the values that you want to represent, you end up building a character.
9. Commit To Small But Consistent Steps Forward
“Many things which cannot be overcome when they are together yield themselves up when taken little by little.” ― Plutarch
This is valuable advise from Plutarch that is especially relevant in this time and age.
The power of small steps and tiny actions has been demonstrated numerous times in studies including habit formation.
Do you attempt to do more than what your current beliefs, thoughts and feelings can sustain?
Remember that You may end up overwhelming the system and stop doing it altogether.
For example, whenever I resolved to workout for a lot more than what my body was used to on a daily basis, I ended up usually quitting.
This is the reason why most new years resolutions do not work out. It is too much change all at once and ends up overwhelming your system.
If you want to transform the world or make a dent in your universe, start small and pick up the pace as you get used to the change.
Small steps taken consistently over time are immensely powerful.
Most people do not understand the value of small steps and simply quit when their massive foray into something does not give immediate massive results.
“Water continually dropping will wear hard rocks hollow.” —Plutarch
10. The Art Of Completion
“Yet No person ever wetted clay and then left it, as if there would be bricks by chance and fortune.”- Plutarch
This is an important life lesson from Plutarch that chance and fortune will not pave your path forward in your journey.
Take a look at your life and become aware of the patterns of completion and incompletion.
Do you complete projects that you begin or do you have endless strings of incompletion?
If incompletion rules your life, begin by completing one small project or making one phone call.
As you begin completing things, you will soon complete more things or let them go and not hold on to their thoughts and feelings.
Let go of the energy of incompletion and take immediate charge of your life as the adventurer in your own journey.
11. Aim To Gain Skills And Experience
“The process is strange and yet it is true. I did not so much gain the knowledge of things by the words, as words by the experience I had of things.” ― Plutarch
In this day and age of information, you may be tempted to use technology to gain the knowledge of things and places but it is never the same thing.
Hearing and reading that learning from failure is important is never the same as actually learning from it.
Reading about success is never the same as demonstrating a small success.
Reading about a great recipe is never the same as jumping in and preparing one…need I say anymore :).
Aim to gain skills and experiences and not just intellectualizing things.
Jump right in and attempt to visit a place or seek an experience. The words you will gain from that will be invaluable as Plutarch says.
12. How To Tell Your Real Friends?
“Prosperity is no just scale; adversity is the only balance to weigh friends.” ― Plutarch
I think that Plutarch is right on with this idea that only adversity is a good judge of who your true friends are.
When you are prosperous, it is a great idea to understand who those true friends are and give them your time and attention.
13. Leading By Example And Not By Criticism
“It is a thing of no great difficulty to raise objections against another’s oration, nay it is a very easy matter; but to produce a work better in its place is a work very troublesome.” ― Plutarch
Have you been around someone who loves to criticize and complain but never offers to do to better themselves?
As Plutarch rightly points out, it is much simpler to raise objections to another but attempting to do it better is where the rubber meets the road.
You will confront empty criticizers who love to put you down but offer no constructive suggestions.
It is a lot more productive to take advise from people who can point out your mistake but also show how to do it better themselves.
This presents a great opportunity to learn for you.
Be wary of people who criticize but offer no real solutions in return.
14. Action Is The Best Cure
“When Demosthenes was asked what were the three most important aspects of oratory, he answered, Action, Action, Action.” -Plutarch
As was then and so it is now that action is the most important aspect of a transformed life.
Make Taking quick and unhesitant action a priority.
What prevents people from taking great action?
A lack of self-belief and confidence.
Not clearly understanding how to take action.
The steps forward are not clear.
Being hyper self-critical and setting unrealistic standards.
Making everything more complicated than necessary.
Being and staying overwhelmed and jumping from crisis to crisis.
Are you taking action now and are you taking action on your priority items regularly?
15. On Happiness
“Do not speak of your happiness to one less fortunate than yourself.”- Plutarch
It is wonderful to be happy and you will not go far these days without reading how to become and stay happy.
It is great to smile and mention how happy you are to everyone but one word of compassion and caution from Plutarch.
Be considerate of people who do not feel the same happiness that you do.
When you tell them how awesome your life is and how happy you are without a thought to their mental and emotional state, you are doing them a disservice.
Most people do not want to be unhappy. It is just that some people do not know how to find and sustain long lasting happiness in their life.
The last thing that they need to remember is how unfortunate they are and how awesome everyone else and their jobs, spouse etc are.
An example would be to speak about a gadget or other material things that one can afford but not the person that they are talking to.
Instead of talking about how awesome someone’s life is, it is better to uplift others.
You can support them and be an example of understanding and compassion.
There is no greater virtue than authentic love, compassion and empathy to another’s suffering and situation.
Now over to you, my awesome readers!