Today we will be wrapping up the reflection on books 7-12 of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations.
“Which is why observing life for forty years is as good as a thousand. Would you really see anything new?”
Here he is talking about how history has patterns that repeat themselves over and over again. Empires rise, empires fall, only to be succeeded by the next.
“Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what is left and live it properly.”
You cannot change your past so stop living in it. Each day that passes is gone live in the present and live it with no regrets. What would your life look like if you were living it the way you wanted to?
“It is quite possible to be a good man without anyone realizing it. Remember that.”
Make the definition of what a good man is for yourself and hold yourself to that standard. Do not worry if anyone else notices.
“It is silly to try and escape other people’s faults. They are inescapable. Just try to escape your own.”
Faults are perceived by the mind. When you see something as a "fault" you are making a judgment. It is okay to judge yourself to hold yourself to your high standards but judging other people will get you nowhere. So, aspects of your personality are within your power to change, but you cannot change aspects of another person's personality.
“You could be good today. But instead, you choose tomorrow.”
How many of us are guilty of this? Everything will be easier to start tomorrow when in reality we are buying time until it is too late, and we are gone. Choose today. Choose right now.
“You have to assemble your life yourself-action by action.”
Nobody is going to do it for you. Take responsibility for your actions and worry about the actions you control, not the external obstacles.
“Remind yourself that the past and future have no power over you.”
They only have power over you if you let them. You cannot change the past. Your actions in the present will determine your future so focus on those.
“When you face someone’s insults, hatred, whatever...look at his soul. Get inside him. Look at what sort of person he is. You’ll find you don’t need to strain to impress him.”
People that spew hatred and insults are not worth your time. When you realize the type of miserable person, they are you should see that.
“Stop talking about what the good man is like, and just be one.”
Easy to describe but hard to be one. Stop just telling yourself what a good man would do and just do it.
“Stop whatever you’re doing for a moment and ask yourself: Am I afraid of death because I won’t be able to do THIS anymore?
If you are wasting your life doing inconsequential things, why are you afraid of dying? You are already dead. If you are afraid of dying because what you have left to accomplish matters well then you are truly living.
“When faced with people’s bad behavior, turn around and ask when you have acted like that.”
We are quick to judge other people's bad behavior but give ourselves grace. It should be the opposite way around. We should be quick to judge and hold ourselves accountable but give other people grace.
“It doesn’t matter how good a life you’ve led. There will still be people standing around the bed who will welcome your death.”
There is no way we can please everyone. No matter your accomplishments or how good of a person you think you are the traits you have will have rubbed someone the wrong way.
“Learn to ask of all actions, “Why are they doing that?” Starting with your own.”
Seek to understand not judge. Someone is doing something you don’t agree with, but do you understand why they are doing it? That is what is important.
“Someone despises me. That’s their problem.”
Do not get drawn into anger or resentment. Their anger and resentment are hurting them not you.
“None of us is forbidden to pursue our own good.”
You don’t have to pursue other people's definition of “good” or “successful” define what these things mean to you and pursue that. That is where you will find true happiness.
“When you start to lose your temper, remember: There’s nothing manly about rage. It’s courtesy and kindness that define a human being and a man. That’s who possesses strength and nerves and guts, not the angry whiners. To react like that brings you closer to impassivity and so to strength. Pain is the opposite of strength, and so is anger. Both are things we suffer from and yield to.”
Within our culture, it has been made to seem the opposite. When you get angry do you feel in control? What kind of strength is that to lose control of your emotions and actions. It is not strength, it is weakness.
“Justice: so that you’ll speak the truth, frankly and without evasions, and act as you should-and as other people deserve.”
When we bite our tongues because we don’t want to hurt people's feelings or our feelings we are causing further damage and resentment. Not speaking the truth is what hurts other people and you.
“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.”
Speaks for itself.
“If it is not right, don’t do it. If it is not true, don’t say it.”
It is that simple. We convince ourselves that it is more complex than that, but it isn’t.
“It’s time you realized that you have something in you more powerful and miraculous than the things that affect you and make you dance like a puppet.”
Unleash your potential. Stop letting external factors and obstacles dictate your life.
That wraps up Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. There is so much more wisdom inside the book these are just the things that stood out to me at this point in my life. Let me know if you have read this book down in the comments. If you plan on reading it in the future come back and let me know what stood out to you.