Here’s What Marcus Aurelius Taught Me About Life

I recently got into Stoicism. 
I decided to read about it because I was thrusted to learn how to control my emotions and thoughts. It seemed like the next logical step to me.
I’m nowhere near peace of mind, let’s be clear, but I’m getting closer and closer to it, especially since I learned to set aside a small chunk of time every day to comprehend Marcus Aurelius’ life lessons.
One volume I particularly enjoyed was “Meditations”, which is a 12-book collection of his private notes and ideas on life.
Every chapter left me with something valuable. The amount of wisdom I found in every single page was astounding. 
However, there’s five lessons I think have been more impactful than others, and, despite centuries have passed by, these are all extremely adaptable to a contemporary context. 

  1. Be an authentic human being.
    Stop caring about others. Don’t keep count of those who did harm to you or let you down. Forget them and focus your attention on being the best human being you can be. 
    Keep everything quiet. Keep your firmness. 
    Be generous.
    Be apathetic towards meaningless stuff.
    Accept those who are frank to you.
    Be frank yourself.
    Love yourself and your family.
    Love truth and justice. 
    And be patient with those who speak before thinking.
    All you have to do is living your life and achieving your life purpose, which is what you were born to do. 
    Find your inner calling and spend your whole lifetime perfecting your craft.
  2. Your mind is your own inner refuge. When the world around you gets noisier, lock yourself in there.
    It’s hard to focus nowadays. We’re bombarded with unnecessary informations, so much so that we’ve completely forgotten how to stand by our own thoughts. 
    Remember, though, that your mind, on the deepest level, can’t be touched by external happenings. Your mind is your own refuge; your tranquil place. 
    No person or circumstance is allowed or will ever be allowed to have a seat.
    In that place, you can free your subconscious from the constant negative talk you give yourself. There, you can start seeing things objectively and more maturely.
    As a matter of fact, every mental turbulence comes not merely by what happens, but rather by the thoughts we formulate about what happened.
    Learn to shrink back in your own mind whenever you deem it necessary, for as much as you want. There’ll never be a safer place.
  3. Don’t compare your life to others’.
    You were born with a purpose; do what you have to do to understand it and realizing your fullest potential. 
    That’s something you can’t do if your mind is constantly worried about other people’s opinions and actions. 
    Stoicism stresses empathy, which means taking care of every human being that comes in your life for whatever reason, and be a good fellow to him/her. At the same time, taking into account others’ opinions too much results into refusing to acknowledge the enormous potential we have over our existences. 
    Don’t hijack yourself from your end goal. As a matter of fact, hurry up; times goes by fast.
    Be upright, and don’t get caught up in unnecessary thoughts.
  4. Don’t expect anything in return from anyone.
    Some people, whenever they do a favor to somebody, make the fatal mistake of expecting something back. If you do, you’ll never really start to enjoy your life, because your expectancy makes your happiness dependent on circumstances that are totally out of your control; in this case, people’s behaviors. 

    Understand that people seldomly take time out to think about other people. Not because they’re bad, but rather, because they haven’t find peace within themselves yet. Be patient, and do your best to help them should they need it. 
    Commit to being a great human being without necessarily thinking in terms of ROI. Remember that caring about others is an extension of caring about yourself and reflects the opinion that you have about your persona as well.
  5. Welcome death as a necessary event. 
    If there’s one certain thing about life, is that everything must come to an end. No one is going to live forever.
    One of the most important and frequently repeated statements within the book concerns the fleeting and ephemeral nature of life. 
    Marcus Aurelius outlines the importance of serenely accepting death as it really is; a natural and necessary event. He explains that the whole Universe is regulated by cycles. Nothing is permanent, not even what you have right now in your hands. 
    Hence, make the best use of the time you have available. 
    Death and life, success and failure, pain and pleasure, wealth and poverty, all these happen to good and bad alike, and they are neither noble nor shameful — and hence neither good or bad. 

    “It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”

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