When it comes to living the Stoic life, we could all do with a little more wisdom and philosophy. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is a collection of meditations that are meant to help guide people through their daily lives. Marcus Aurelius was the Roman Emperor who lived from 121 – 180 A.D., and he said that “the wise man is free not only from events but also from his knowledge of them”. He encouraged people to live life with purpose and clarity, so take a few minutes these 13 lessons from Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Summary.
1. Never interrupt what you’re doing to correct or instruct someone else.
Most people know the saying “never interrupt what you’re doing to correct or instruct someone else.” But now, this is not just a trite adage. It is something that you must adhere to if you truly want to be successful. The fact of the matter is that people who are interrupted while they are working tend to be significantly less productive than those who can focus uninterruptedly. This means there is no need for someone else’s input when trying your best at anything.
There is a very specific time and place for working and your coworkers should know this and abide by it. This seems like common sense, but unfortunately, too few people actually adhere to this rule. It is far more productive to complete what you are doing before you alter course to help others or attempt to correct them. Otherwise, you will be throwing off your entire work schedule because of someone else’s deficiencies.
2. Live in accordance with nature.
Marcus Aurelius lived during the golden age of Greece, where he was also a philosopher, and he made many references to Greek mythology throughout his work. He believed that all men were put on this earth for one purpose: to study the natural order of things. Living in accordance with nature means taking part in your government’s duties, but also accepting that you are here just as much for yourself as you are for others.
You must first be able to live and enjoy life and your daily affairs before you can truly dedicate yourself to other people’s needs. People who only think of how they can help others lose sight of their own well-being which leads to a dull and joyless existence.
Working with those around you will always be easier if you can focus on yourself as well as those around you. Do the work that is required of you, but also do things that will make you happy and increase your chances of living a long and fulfilling life.
3. You must follow the right path, even if it is not the one you want.
If you are doing the work that is necessary for your life, and you’re able to live free and happy and in harmony with nature, then you will naturally grow wiser over time. Over time, without even trying, you will discover that this was your purpose for living and that everything else was merely a means to an end.
This means that it will be up to you, and you alone, to serve your country. Now, some people feel that this is a fact of life that they can never escape from. This is not true. You can change the future by changing the decisions you make today. It may be difficult to get out from under some things that weigh heavily on your mind, but it can be done if you try hard enough.
4. You can’t please everybody.
You may be feeling like you’re doing the best that you can to serve your country, but you shouldn’t put up with others who are also doing what they can for their countries. You must stand up for yourself and not let people push you around in their own lives and offer you advice in this regard. You must also be careful not to let people who are telling you what to do get in the way of your own efforts to serve your country.
So don’t aim your life around others’ wishes. Let other people do the things they feel are necessary for them to do, but don’t let them decide what you should do or how you should live your life. This is a lesson that everyone must learn throughout their lifetime but it can be especially hard to practice once you’ve set out on your own.
5. We all suffer from poor judgment.
Marcus Aurelius says that you should try to live your life by the rules of nature, but this doesn’t mean that you can forget about common sense or reason when it comes to dealing with life’s many problems. We all make mistakes every day, but you still need to learn how not to make them in the future. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, you will never be able to reach perfection.
This is because of how imperfect people are that surround you. You will never be able to please the people around you, but you must remember that your purpose is not to please them. Instead, focus on making decisions that will allow you to live the happiest life possible.
6. Deal with problems directly and honestly whenever possible.
You can never be sure what you are going to see in life, but it is always better to deal with problems directly and honestly rather than ignore them or pretend they don’t exist. This opens you up for success in all aspects of your life. If you are dealing with a problem directly and honestly, then you will more likely be able to think clearly about the best possible solution.
You must allow your mind to become one with nature. Understand that you were put on this earth to exist in the moment and to deal with any problems that arise. You must take full advantage of the opportunities in your life and make the best out of your current situation.
7. Watch how other people treat you and ignore them when they need to be ignored.
Marcus Aurelius quotes, “Don’t let yourself get worked up over what other people are doing. You have your own path, and if you stay on it and follow it, everything else will work itself out.”
You must see other people as they are and not as they wish to be. They can’t control how you live or what you do with your life, but they may try to exert this power over you. So ignore them when they do. Don’t let them take control of your emotions.
If they are not going to respect your wishes, then you must walk away from them without a second thought. Learn how to respond to those who try to control you by being firm and being yourself.
8. Forget about the past and don’t worry about the future. You can’t change either anyway.
You cannot control others’ opinions of you, so why waste time worrying about what other people think? If they do not understand you, then they will never understand you no matter what you do. You cannot change this fact and you must not waste your energy and time trying to change it.
You must focus exclusively on living in the present moment. The past is gone and the future is something that has yet to happen so you can never accurately predict what will happen in either case. You can’t change yesterday, so forget about it and move on. You cannot know how tomorrow will turn out so there’s no point in worrying about it or trying to change it before it happens.
9. You must remember that it is not what you get that counts, but how much you get.
“It’s not important that you achieve anything in life. The things you do for yourself and the things you do for others are more important.” -Marcus Aurelius
It doesn’t matter if other people think that they personally need help or some sort of achievement, the fact remains that it is not your responsibility to provide these things for them. Do what you want to do without caring about what other people say or think of you, and you’ll find happiness.
10. Be careful not to be carried away by appearances.
“In my experience, those who have done their duty in life as they understood it are more likely to be happy than those who have gained the world.” -Marcus Aurelius
Appearances can be deceiving and it’s important that you see past them when they don’t match the truth. People are not always what they seem to be, but you should only judge them by their actions. If you allow yourself to be deceived by appearances, then someone will take advantage of you before long.
11. The greatest pleasure comes from living in harmony with nature.
“There is no one correct way of doing things, because the world changes constantly. What is right now may not be right tomorrow.” -Marcus Aurelius
The world changes constantly, but it doesn’t mean that you should change with it. You can find happiness by living in harmony with nature. Learn to appreciate this fact and don’t let the passage of time distract you from doing what you want to do. Stay true to yourself and always trust your own judgment no matter what happens in your life.
12. You must try to manage your desires so that you are not overwhelmed by them all the time.
“The more you feed desire, the stronger it becomes. Desires are like wild animals in this way, but with just a little self-control they can be tamed.” -Marcus Aurelius
Do not let yourself feel the need to reach for every opportunity that happens just because you can. You must learn to control your desires so that they don’t run away with you and cause problems for you. If you do not manage them properly, then they will cause problems for you.
You must manage the desires that come to you by not acting upon them without first analyzing them. If they are reasonable, then you should do what you can to fulfill them. If they are unreasonable, then you should do your best to ignore them altogether.
13. Remember that there is no way for you to know what life has in store for you next.
“It is easy enough to say what someone ought to do, but quite another thing to do it—and no one is exempt from failing. The only difference is one of time, but no one is granted forever.” -Marcus Aurelius
There are many different paths to take in life, but you can’t know if yours will be successful. You can’t know if you’ll be the winner or the loser. You must remember that there is no way for you to know what life has in store for you next. It’s not possible to map out the future exactly as it will happen so you must deal with each problem as it comes along for the best results.