What is the best life-changing book you’ve read recently? What is the one book you keep reading over and over again?
Some books are meant to be devoured or digested slowly.
There are not many books that require total immersion. So when I come across a timeless and valuable book that has changed many lives over the years, I take the words of the author or writer seriously.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is one of the greatest and original books ever written. It’s a life compass.
You don’t just read it once and put it on the shelf. You keep it close for easy access. You read and ponder. It’s full of practical wisdom for life.
Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a famous Stoic philosopher. He wrote Meditations during his reign as a source of psychological advice for himself.
He originally called all the 12 books in the book “Writings To Myself.” He wrote it during a pandemic (Antonine Plague, named after him), which killed about 5 million people.
“He frequently applies Stoic philosophy to the challenges of coping with pain, illness, anxiety and loss,” writes Donald Robertson of the Guardian.
Meditations was not meant for publication, which is why it’s so personal and genuine. Marcus used it as a guide to understand and encourage himself or make sense of the uncertain and challenging world.
It’s a timeless collection that has been read for centuries.
So, if you choose to read it, you are not alone. Millions of people before you have read it, including intellectuals, politicians and entrepreneurs.
Marcus’ wisdom can help you overcome the many challenges of life. He focuses mainly on life, logic, meaning, work, mortality, self-discipline and the shortness of life.
We are all here for a short time, and knowing how to make the most of the present life you have can change the trajectory of your life.
Meditations is the personal notes of a philosopher and an emperor encouraging himself to get his acts together. It’s deeply personal and practical. “They have become one of the most influential philosophy books in the history of the world, says Ryan Holiday.
Timeless lessons for life
Marcus argues that focusing too much on what people think of you is a distraction and a waste of your short life.
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.
“Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” He wrote. He observed that the only pain we suffer is the pain we create ourselves.
He reminded himself to stop obsessing about what other people are doing, thinking or saying. He advises himself to focus on what he could be doing wrong in his life and how to fix the many problems on his plate.
On overthinking and worrying about other people’s opinions of us, Marcus writes, “It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.”
He thought in a rapidly changing world, the best thing you can do for your short life on earth is to choose to live in the present and take full advantage of our finite existence.
He observed that what’s within and outside your control can change your perception about life and living it without stress. “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” He said.
He encouraged himself to live each day as if it were his last. That way, he would embrace the fullness of life, refuse to be disturbed by the past or the future. Marcus said, “Do every act of your life as though it were the very last act of your life.”
He famously wrote, “Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive — to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” Marcus Aurelius said.
The 12 books of the Meditations is a source of enlightenment, encouragement and inspiration for a better life. He says “dig within” for the answers you seek for a good life. “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” He wrote.
For Marcus, everything we see is a perspective, not the whole or objective truth. So, to change your life, start with what you think is the only truth and question them.
Your existing beliefs about what it means to lead a good life are shaping and influencing your life significantly than you think.
“For every action, ask: How does it affect me? Could I change my mind about it?” Marcus wrote. “You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
Embrace a new or better way of thinking to change the trajectory of your life. Look to wise, highly effective, rational thought leaders and intelligent people for better guidance.
Everything you need to build a better, fulfilling, and meaningful life is within your control if you know where to look and what to think.