Meditating on Meditations – Three Things We Can Learn From a Stoic Personality

When In Rome..

When I say the words “Stoic Personality” there are few people that might come to your mind, like the great roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. (The same emperor in the start of the movie Gladiator.. that movie came out nearly 17 years ago..feel old yet?). You see, aside from being a benevolent emperor,  just like in the movie he was forced to be at the battle lines protecting the roman empire from stinky barbarians around the years 170 – 180. During this time he wrote a journal as a reminder to himself about all he has learned. The things he wrote are one of the standing pillars of the Stoics and you really get an idea of what a stoic personality is like. Stoicism became super popular during the Roman times, everyone from slaves to the wealthy studied it. And to this day there are students of this philosophy and one of the prime reasons is this book. Many people have called it one of the greatest philosophical works of all time. The book was called Meditations, and if you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend you get it from Amazon..its like $1.. the price of a cookie. I have read this amazing book and  will proceed to read it again..and probably again..and again. It took me about a month and a half to finish due to the density of the wisdom. It’s not your typical romance or self help type book, it’s a heavy read and meant to be taken slow. I will discuss three things I learned from reading it the first time through below. I will probably do a part two as there is way too much I know i have missed. Also unlike my regular posts this is very quote heavy as the wisdom in these quotes cannot be expressed better.

Annndd You’re Dead.

When I wrote my post on death, you can read it here, one of my prime motivations was this one quote. In the book, Marcus Aurelius says this: ” Take it that you have died today, and your life’s story is ended; and henceforward regard what future time may be given you as an uncovenanted surplus, and live it out in harmony with nature.” So basically, he is saying imagine that you have died. Poof! Hit with Insta-Death™! And now suddenly by some miracle, thanks to Insta-Death Begone™, you are alive! Now seeing how your life technically ended a few seconds ago every moment from now on should be a gift and should be treated as such. As I described in my own post, you should use death to remind yourself of the present because it truly is all you have and it is a gift. To put it in a nutshell..and I can’t believe I am posting this seriously overused (but true) quote: “Tomorrow is a mystery. Yesterday is history. Live today, it’s a gift, that’s why they call it “present.”

What Can You Do At This Moment?..or well after you read this post

I am going to make a post about this in the future in more detail but you should only focus on what you can do now.  “Never confuse yourself by visions of an entire lifetime at once… remember that it is not the weight of the future or the past that is pressing upon you, but ever that of the present alone.” I know this is especially true for people like me who try to think of everything that needs to be done to get to the end. Honestly, had it not been for that quote ^ this blog might not have come along cause I would be too busy thinking about future problems like server overload (coming soon to a web server near you) and answering tough questions and giving a speech at the Oscars and what not. Focus on what you can do now and don’t burden yourself with trying to do everything at once as well as focusing to hard on past errors. This concept is also called mindfulness.  I wont go too in depth because mindfulness really deserves it’s own post but until then realize that the only thing that matters is the present.

Stop Caring So Much About What People Think

One of the most interesting things I have realized from this book is this: Why do i focus so much on what people think of me?..They can’t even see themselves in a positive light. In his own words, Marcus Aurelius says ” The approval of such men, who do not stand well in their own eyes, has no value for him.” The movie Fight Club was a great example of this. If you haven’t seen this movie I highly recommend you watch it..but please..not with children around if the name didn’t make it obvious enough. In the movie, there is a character by the name of Tyler Durden and he is quite an interesting person. He gets everything he wants, does what he wants, and has cool sunglasses. But most importantly he is free in ways we are not. He doesn’t care about clothes and cars and job positions or anything. This is a famous quote that sums this up pretty well, one I seriously think needs to be imprinted in everyones mind in this day and age: “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy stuff we don’t need to impress people we don’t like”. People want to have that 9 -5 job for stability and have that potluck party because Josh from Management did one. They are not free at all because they are chained to what people think of them and what they think is expected of them. They let their “image” come in the way of becoming who they really are..and for what? Remember we are all going to die anyway. I am not saying become a complete jerk to people and start going out in underwear..or worse..in baggy jeans cause those are like so 2002. (Kidding) Focus only on what matters to you and stop letting society dictate you on. I have done a similar post on this which I think you should check out titled :You Are Not Special – The Truth About Life And Becoming Great

 

To Be Continued..

As stated above, I will probably continue this in a future post as there is way too much precious wisdom in this book to get in one run. These  were three major things I learned from this book and I think if people just apply even these their Quality of Life Will be so much better. So until the next section try and apply these. They are not at all that easy and require a serious shift in most mindsets. Feel free to comment what you have learned from meditations below so others can learn.

 The 3 point summary/ Tl;Dr (Too lazy..didn’t read)

  • You will die one day so just learn to appreciate the present..like a present (I will see myself out)
  • Focus on what you can change and do now. Forget the past and the future when it comes it comes.
  • Stop caring so much what people think. Learn to be free from influence.

 

 Also do check out this video for a rather good introduction to stoicism.

 

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