In ancient Greece people listened to philosophers in the same way that we attend a church or practice meditation. It was much less about novel ideas and more about training the mind and heart. The Greeks understood that shaping ourselves required repetition. It was about becoming a better person through the ongoing and deepening practice of inhabiting certain ideas. Ideas which weren’t mere theories but rather expressions our best possibilities as human beings. These possibilities the Greeks called virtue - or excellence - which lead to a flourishing life and make us a source of good for others.
Three things happen through repetition.
The first is that we are reminded of the idea. In order to be shaped by an idea we have to remember it often. We need to bring it to mind throughout the day, so that it sinks in as a habit of thought, feeling, and action. This is why Marcus Aurelius kept a daily journal, and Seneca practised nightly reflections. It is why as a counsellor I advise people to do the same, and also to design reminders and practices in their daily life as they commute, work, and socialise.
The second effect of repetition is that, as we go through different experiences in life and grow, we see these ideas in different contexts. This means that we deepen, widen, strengthen, and become more flexible, in our relationship with the idea and its practice.
Thirdly, these ideas are ultimately tools. Some people collect tools and never use them. Many people collect good ideas, debate about them, but never use them deeply in their lives. We should live them, applying them in our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Then they become a part of who we are, our way of being.
The truly good person is not the one who talks a lot, feels much sympathy, or has many good intentions - the world is full of such impotent morality - but rather the one who actually does good. Life is brief and you don't know how much you're actually capable of. You are capable of making people wish they'd never met you, capable of doing real damage in the lives of others. But you are also capable of real goodness, and being a source of utter nourishment and strength in the lives of others, of being the reason that others believe in the goodness of life. And you're not here for very long, so why not find out about that; find out what you can become if only you are prepared to do what it takes to let the best in your rise up, take hold of you, and shine out.