Yesterday, I delved back into the timeless wisdom of Meditations, the ancient book of Marcus Aurelius. I was struck by the simplicity and depth of his musings.
It’s remarkable how relevant and practical his insights are today, even though he lived almost two millennia ago as a Roman emperor. And while his words are timeless, it is up to each of us to uncover our own wisdom and practice our own meditations.
According to Marcus, happiness does not depend on external circumstances but on our inner state of being. Inner peace, gratitude, and presence in our daily lives is available to each of us.
As he shared, “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within your way of thinking.” He understood that the key to a happy life is not in material possessions or external success, but in our own way of living. We can choose to cultivate inner peace and contentment by finding joy in the simple things in life.
I was reminded of humility and self-awareness in the Meditations. Despite being an emperor, he recognized he was no better than anyone else. He was equally prone to flaws and mistakes. “Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most resembles the one I am about to criticize?”
Furthermore, Marcus exemplified a strong work ethic and a stoic mindset. He rarely complained or indulged in self-pity, even in the face of difficulty. Instead, he found joy in the simple things in life, such as the beauty of nature and the wonder of the cosmos. As he wrote, “Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”
Perhaps one of the most poignant examples of Marcus’s mindfulness and presence is his relationship with his children.
Every night, he would tuck them into bed and bid them goodnight. But he didn’t just rush through this routine. He took his time and savored the moment, knowing that it might be the last time he would do so.
As he whispered to himself, “Don’t rush this. This might be the last time you do this. It’s not a guarantee that either of you will make it through the night.”
This reminder of the fragility of life is a powerful one. What if all we have is this timeless moment?