Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The personal notes of a clearly intelligent man.

Im not a complete subscriber to Stoicism, but I believe that it contains some very useful tenets by which many will benefit should they take heed.

I read the Gregory Hays translation, and thankfully it sounds like it was a much easier read than some other translations. I don’t imagine I missed much either, although this is not for me to decide.

The 4 main takeaways I got from this book were these:

1. Death is essentially just another phase of your time in existence. Don’t spend your life chasing fame for its sake, or even for any posthumous appreciation. Time flows on like a river and soon everyone on this planet will ever forget you existed. Be righteous for your own sake.

2. Don’t complain, be patient. Whatever may happen to you is because it has been prescribed by God. Just as if a doctor prescribes medicine for us, we have faith that it is for our cure. We should think similarly of God and the trials we are subject to in life.

3. Look at things and understand them as they really are. We are just a collection of flesh and bones, your favourite food is just dead meat of an animal with some plants. Breaking everyday things down like this stops our mind from over-exaggerating this life and getting used to its luxuries.

4. Don’t unnecessarily extrapolate negative situations. An example given in the book is that of a mans son who is ill. He may be tempted to worry that his son may die, but this is just extrapolation from the current scenario. It is conjecture whipped up out of fear and anxiety. The reality is just that the boy is ill. The mind must be tamed, and we must see the reality of things as they are. Not to exaggerate our hopes and fears so that we live deluded.

All in all, this was a very enlightening read, and I recommend everyone to take notes along with it to continue benefiting from it.

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