Lessons from an ancient emperor to modern life.
Refrain from opinion, and all will be well.
“Your evil does not lie in other people’s criteria, nor in any modification or alteration of the matter that surrounds you. Where does it lie, then? In your own criterion of good and evil. So that if you abstain from opinion, all will be well with you.”— Marcus Aurelius.
This does not mean that you can do whatever you want. It does not mean that you are not honest and that anything goes. The true meaning of Marcus Aurelius’ phrase is that you should not judge the justice or injustice of what you have to live. Nor if what this or that person does is bad or good.
The great emperor encourages us to accept life: situations, experiences, people, the whole package. And from there, we do our best, acting with ethics and honesty. Well, we must have principles and be guided by them.
- Amor fati: attitude in which you see everything that happens, including suffering and loss, as necessary.
If you use everything that happens to you as fuel (Amor fati), you will be unstoppable.
If you have an accident, don’t sink into drama, do the rehabilitation with military discipline and English punctuality to recover as soon as possible.
If your partner leaves you, don’t play the victim; use it as an opportunity to improve yourself and opt for a much better partner.
If you get fired, don’t get anxious, ruminating in your mind about the worst possible scenario. Instead, reduce expenses, investigate new avenues, contact new companies, network with people who can introduce you to new sectors, learn new skills, and find a better-paying job.
Your perspective of what is good or bad makes it good or bad. Learn not to judge, not to anticipate events, and you will be surprised how much energy you have left to deal with any adverse circumstances.
Don’t forget that, as Marcus Aurelius said at the end of the day, “That things are in flux is not a bad thing. But neither is what emerges from a transformation always a good thing.”
Overcome your paralyzing fear of death.
“And if god were to say to you: you are going to die tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow; it wouldn’t matter much to you whether it was one day or the other, unless you were a coward. For what difference would it make? Likewise, do not consider it of great importance to die at the end of many years, instead of tomorrow.” — Marcus Aurelius.
No one knows what is on the other side of the sun. No one came back from the dead to tell us. But what is clear is that if you compare the average life span with the antiquity of the universe, your life (and mine) is not even a blink of an eye in comparison.
Rich and poor have died as long as the world has existed. Death doesn’t care if you are a master or enslaved person; death makes us all equal. And if you accept your mortality, you free yourself from the shackles that keep you from living.
- Memento mori: means “remember that you will die.”
Remember it when you are attached to your comfort zone. Remember when you feel lazy to go somewhere or do something you want to do?
Remember it when you are afraid to take risks.
But also remember it when you achieve an important goal. One day you will be dead, and nothing will matter. So don’t overthink things; there is no security; you will not get out of life alive.
And on the other hand, do not rest on the laurels of victory because you can take nothing material with you from this world.
And if you find it hard to eliminate the fear of death, use the trick of Marcus Aurelius, “There is a straightforward and effective remedy to belittle death: make a catalog of those who clung to life. What more did they get than those who died prematurely?”
Think about it: Steve Job died prematurely and lived to the fullest, much more than others who will die at 100 years old.
Dare to live and stop living dead in life.
Dare to be yourself.
“If you loved yourself, you would do what nature commands you to do. Those who love their profession consume their lives in their chores. They give themselves passionately to their task.”— Marcus Aurelius.
Nowadays, everyone is going on about the “follow-your-passion” thing, but here Marcus Aurelius is talking about something much more profound than a passion: nature.
You have your nature, and only through introspection will you be able to discover it fully.
To deny yourself is to deny the world, happiness, and life. And Marcus Aurelius knew it.
- Courage: it is one of the four stoic virtues (wisdom, temperance, justice, and courage).
You must learn to align yourself with your nature, seek your place in the world and follow your destiny to the very end.
That attitude will set you free.
Every time I feel bad emotionally, I ask myself why, and eight times out of ten, it is because I have stopped going my way to following someone else’s way.
Notice that I don’t say the typical “because I do things that don’t make me happy.” I don’t mind facing adversity and feeling pressure if I feel I am where I must be, doing what I have to do.
Writing books is very hard, and I always have a hard time during the process, but it is my nature, and I face it like a climber climbing a mountain. I’m not looking to be happy but to be myself.
And that is what I wish for you that you decide to be yourself and accept the challenges that decision brings.
A virtual hug