Marcus Aurelius was the most modest, introspective and long-suffering of monarchs. He was a good man and an enlightened ruler who wished only the best for his people. He had been carefully chosen and groomed for his job. Sickly and serious-minded as a child, he had developed into a dedicated Stoic, a practitioner of a philosophy that preached simplicity, self-discipline, endurance and duty.
Here was the true philosopher-king that Plato had talked about long ago. Here are 7 life lessons extracted from Meditations.
Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.
Soon you’ll be ashes or bones. A mere name at most—and even that is just a sound, an echo. The things we want in life are empty, stale, trivial.
Live in the here and now
Why do you hunger for length of days? The point of life is to follow reason and the divine spirit and to accept whatever nature sends you. To live in this way is not to fear death, but to hold it in contempt. Death is only a thing of terror for those unable to live in the present. Pass on your way, then, with a smiling face, under the smile of him who bids you go.
Be responsible for your happiness
Choose not to be harmed — and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed — and you haven’t been
Search for Truth
If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.
Do not act as if you were going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over you. While you live, while it is in your power, be good.
Be light, for you and others
Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now, take what’s left and live it properly. What doesn’t transmit light creates its own darkness.