In AD 161, 40-year-old Marcus Aurelius became the most powerful man in the world as Roman Emperor.
Historians refer to Aurelius as the last of the "five good emperors". These were the emperors who ruled the Roman Empire with wisdom, justice and integrity.
In his formative years he developed his ideas about virtue, good character, self-control and philosophy. Aurelius credits his paternal grandfather with influencing his outlook on life.
Aurelius later wrote down his thoughts, habits, and wisdom as Roman Emperor. His collection of essays is better known today asmeditations (audio book).
Historians note that Aurelius never published his writings for public reading. Fortunately, 10 years of his writing, wisdom and lessons are available to us today.
Here are some handpicked quotes from Marcus Aurelius' meditations on motivation, habits, and life.
Marcus Aurelius quote
Do your job as a human being
Aurelius shares some insights on how to motivate yourself to get out of bed in the morning...
At the crack of dawn, when you're having trouble getting out of bed, say to yourself, "I have to go to work - as a person. What do I have to complain about when I'm doing what I was born to do - the things I was born to do? Or Was I made for this?To snuggle under the covers and stay warm?(Video) The Most Life Changing Marcus Aurelius Quotes
Don't you see the plants, the birds, the ants, the spiders and the bees going about their individual tasks and putting the world in order as best they can? And you are not ready to do your job as a person? Why don't you run to do what your nature demands?
He revisits this theme in another meditation:
If you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, remember that your defining characteristic - what makes you a person - is working with others.
None of them can hurt me
Marco Aurélio offers a simple recipe for dealing with criticism and negative people...
When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be nosy, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and ill-tempered. They are like that because they cannot distinguish between good and evil. But I saw the beauty of good and the ugliness of evil, and I realized that the evildoer is of a similar nature to mine - not of the same blood or birth, but of the same spirit and having a share in the divine. And then none of them can hurt me.
He revisits this theme in another meditation:
You have power over your mind - not external events. Realize this and you will find strength.
Everything we hear is opinion, not fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
You don't need to convert this to anything. This need not bother you. Things cannot influence our decisions by themselves.
I have often wondered how it is that every human being loves himself more than anyone else but cares less about his opinion of himself than the opinion of others.(Video) My Summary of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius | (22 Stoic Principles)
attitude of gratitude
Aurélio's recipe for happiness and fulfillment is gratitude...
All you need are: certainty of judgment in the present moment; act for the common good in the present moment; and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for whatever comes your way.
In another meditation, he suggests that we are responsible for our happiness:
Choose not to get hurt and you won't feel hurt. Don't feel hurt - and you weren't.
You have the right of withdrawal
Aurelius shares some hard-earned wisdom on dealing with setbacks and failures...
When something external is bothering you, the pain is not in the thing itself, but in your assessment; and you can revoke that at any time.”
Concentrate like a Roman every minute
Here's Marcus Aurelius' productivity hack from over 2,000 years ago.
Concentrate every minute like a Roman - like a man - on doing what is before you, with precise and genuine sincerity, with tenderness, goodwill, with justice. And get rid of all other distractions. Yes you can - if you just do everything like it's the last thing you'll ever do and stop being aimless, stop letting your emotions overrule what your mind is telling you, stop being hypocritical, self-centered, angry.(Video) Marcus Aurelius Meditations Quotes | Top Quotes | Philosophy Of Stoicism
Get rid of useless things that bother you
This is his recipe for finding calm even when things are chaotic around him...
“You can get rid of many useless things that bother you, because they are entirely in your imagination; and then you will make wide space for yourself, apprehending the whole universe in your mind and contemplating the eternity of time and observing the rapid change of every part of everything, how short is the time from birth to dissolution and the infinite time before of birth as well as the equally unlimited time after dissolution"
In another meditation, he expands on this idea:
Consider yourself dead, you've lived your life. Now take what's left and live right. What does not let the light through creates its own darkness.
Work smart with what you're given
Marcus Aurelius shares some rules for being an exceptional leader...
What can even the most wicked person do if you continue to treat him kindly and gently scold him - when you get the chance - cheerfully correcting him at the very moment he is trying to harm you?
It is the responsibility of leadership to work smart with what they are given and not waste time fantasizing about a world full of perfect people and perfect decisions.
Aurelius also notes his grandfather's commitment to integrity, regardless of what others think of him.
His limitations on acclaim - and all attempts to flatter him... And his attitude towards men: no demagoguery, no flattery, no flattery. Always sober, always consistent and never vulgar or at the mercy of fads.(Video) Marcus Aurelius - Meditations - (My Narration)
Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
These are some of the wisdoms about habits, motivation and life written by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
While many of his writings are generally unstructured and based on Stoic philosophy, there are many valuable self-improvement ideas and life lessons you can learn from his popular book.meditations.
Why waste time trying to figure out what works and what doesn't?
After all, a wise man learns from his mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.
Mayo Oshin writes forMayoOshin.com, where he shares practical self-improvement ideas and proven science to improve health, productivity, and creativity.
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- Change Your Habits: The Science of How to Build Good Habits That Last and Break Bad Habits.
- Emotional Intelligence: The Difference Between Good Leadership and Great Leadership.
1. The historical facts about Marcus Aurelius are taken from Frank McLynn's biography Warrior, Philosopher, Emperor.
2. Historian Edward Gibbon claims that Aurelius was the last emperor to reign in the golden age of imperial peace and justice known as the Pax Romana.
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