Meditations

By: Marcus Aurelius

This might be the first self-improvement book ever written. A great Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, wrote it for himself nearly 2,000 years ago. Meditations is literally a collection Marcus Aurelius's personal notes and thoughts on how to live life. It's written in simple yet extraordinarily powerful bits, one concept at a time, making it easy to digest.

The book caused an empowering shift in my values and a stronger mental fortitude in me against the effects of things beyond myself and my control. It puts our existence into perspective. He discusses using the thought of death to one's advantage, the irrelevance of the past and future, and the logical handling of emotion in ways a summary of which can do no justice. Essentially, Meditations is dozens of profound concepts, ideas, and strategies, learned over a lifetime of philosophy and leading Rome, rolled into one easily digestible, profoundly useful collection.

My 10 Favorite Index Cards:

Forget everything else. Keep hold of this alone and remember it: Each of us lives only now, this brief instant. The rest has been lived already, or is impossible to see.
Our inward power, when it obeys nature, reacts to events by accommodating itself to what it faces - to what is possible. It needs no specific material. It pursues its own aims as circumstances allow; it turns obstacles into fuel. As a fire overwhelms what would have quenched a lamp. What’s thrown on top of the conflagration is absorbed, consumed by it - and makes it burn still higher.
‘If you seek tranquillity, do less.’ Or (more accurately) do what’s essential – what the logos of a social being requires, and in the requisite way. Which brings a double satisfaction: to do less, better.
People who love what they do wear themselves down doing it, they even forget to wash or eat. Do you have less respect for your own nature than the engraver does for engraving, the dancer for the dance, the miser for money or the social climber for status? When they’re really possessed by what they do, they’d rather stop eating and sleeping than give up practicing their arts.
The things you think about determine the quality of your mind. Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts.
Our actions may be impeded by them, but there can be no impeding our intentions or our dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impeding to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.
Don’t be ashamed to need help. Like a soldier storming a wall, you have a mission to accomplish. And if you’ve been wounded and need a comrade to pull you up? So what?
To learn to ask of all actions, ‘Why are they doing that?’ Starting with your own.
That you don’t know for sure that it is a mistake. A lot of things are means to some other end.
Practice even what seems impossible. The left hand is useless at almost everything, for lack of practice. But it guides the reins better than the right. From practice.

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