How do you live the best life possible? By taking time to contemplate your thoughts, of course. In this article, I’ll break down some of the most popular bits from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.
The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.
The first thing to note is that happiness is not the same as pleasure. Happiness comes from within, it’s a state of mind.
It’s often said that we get what we think about most. What you focus on in life will bring more of it into your life, so if you’re focusing on what you don’t have, then more of that will be all you get.
You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.
This is perhaps the most important lesson to take away from Meditations. The emperor reminds himself and his readers that they have power over their minds, not outside events. This directly contradicts the Stoic view of fate, which involves believing that everything happens for a reason, and therefore there is nothing we can do about it. Marcus Aurelius is saying that this approach isn’t helpful or effective: if you keep telling yourself that something bad will happen to you regardless of what you do or say, then why bother trying?
The first step towards gaining control over your mind is to realize that it’s possible to change how you feel about things—and other people—by changing how you think about them. You can decide whether or not someone else’s actions are offensive by deciding for yourself whether or not they were intended as such (or vice versa). In other words: how does any one person’s actions affect another? If a friend unintentionally says something hurtful about your appearance, but followed up with an apology and reassurance that she still loves you anyway…then should it really matter? No!
The second step in developing mental strength involves realizing the difference between what’s inside our own heads (our thoughts) versus what lies outside them (everything else). It won’t help anyone if we allow ourselves get upset when someone hurts us because they didn’t mean any harm; instead we should focus on understanding where they’re coming from so that we can avoid future conflict together.”
It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.
You should not fear death, but you should fear never beginning to live.
You are going to die. That is something that will happen in the future, and it’s something that can’t be changed. The only thing you can change is your reaction to it. Marcus Aurelius knew this; so did Epictetus and Seneca before him; so did Socrates, Aristotle and Plato before them (and many more philosophers besides). But how do we know how they reacted? How do we know how they lived their lives when they had nothing left but death? We don’t – we just have their words from which to guess at what their actions might have been like.
The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.
- The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts
the goal of meditation is to become aware of how your mind works. You do this by observing how you react to things, without judgment or criticism.
- The soul is a mirror: it reflects everything that happens to it, no matter what it is. Thoughts come into your mind and there’s nothing you can do about it; they just show up like clouds in a clear sky. Just watch them pass by, without attaching yourself to any one thought or letting them stay around too long (because they won’t). Be like water that takes on whatever shape fits best at any given time; let everything flow through you as naturally as possible.
- The soul is like a bowl: stillness must be maintained when dealing with distractions and temptations during meditation practice (just like trying not to spill your cereal while eating breakfast). If someone knocks on your door while meditating—don’t let them come in! Then when they go away again, return back into stillness by focusing only on your breath for awhile longer until things seem different than before (more peaceful/calm).
You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.
The first step is to realize that you have control over your mind, not outside events. You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.
So much of our anxiety comes from thinking about the future or about things we can’t change in the past. We imagine all kinds of terrible things happening to us—but it won’t happen to you unless you decide it will. And if it does happen, then learn from it as best as possible and move on with your life! The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts; so take care about what you think for they become actions in due course of time —Marcus Aurelius
Power over the mind is all controlling
Marcus Aurelius was a man who never forgot that he was in control of his own mind. Mind, according to him and his Stoic philosophy, is the king and the power that rules over all things. He was certainly right about this—the mind is what makes you think that you’re reading this article and not something else; it’s how you see color or hear sounds; it’s how your body moves around tending to its needs and wants. In order to control anything at all in your life, then, it follows that you must first learn how to control yourself (and consequently your reactions). And if there’s one thing Marcus Aurelius has taught us through his Meditations , it’s that self-control begins with understanding what we mean by “mind” itself—which means learning about human nature itself:
Meditations is one of those books that you should read if you want to get a better understanding of what it takes to be human. It’s nice that the author wrote this book so we can all learn from it and improve our lives!