Marcus Aurelius Meditations PDF [Book Short]

What’s up Thought Stackers!  Man oh man do I have a treat for you today.  We’re going to be diving into one of my favorite books written by the late Emperor Marcus Aurelius, called Meditations.

It really should have been called My Thoughts on the World because the book is made up of his journal entries while he ruled over his vast empire.

It’s not a book on meditation, but rather individual bits of wisdom in journal format.  It’s a great primer into the Stoic philosophy, which centers around using knowledge and reasoning to find harmony in your life.  

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What is Stoicism?

When I think of stoicism, I think of internal vs external locus of control.  Internal locus of control just means focusing on what you have influence over.  External locus of control means you believe you’re fated with whatever the world throws at you.  

Internal vs External Locus of Control

Take, for example, taking a test in school.  Say you got a big fat F on it.  An internal locus viewpoint would be to acknowledge that you went out partying and didn’t really study for it.  You know that to do better you’ll need to go meet with the teacher for advice and maybe get a tutor to help cement the knowledge in your brain.  

An external locus viewpoint would be that the teacher is a total asshole and hates that you have a life and doesn’t understand how cool you are and it’s his fault for not realizing this material is crap anyways…

Who’s going to be more resilient in what life throws at them?  I can just envision an increased stress and ultimately not much growth for the external locus individual over the internal locus one.

You Control Your Worldly Perception

The main takeaway from the book is that the world is organized in a rational and coherent way.  Therefore things are going to happen, which may or may not make sense to us, but it’s how we perceive the situations that ultimately guide our emotions.

Looking back to that failed test example, can you imagine the difference in emotions felt by a person with an internal locus vs someone with an external locus viewpoint?  I’m pretty sure they are both upset with the bad grade, but the internal individual should feel empowered because they know what they can do to not feel like that again.  The external individual, however, is going to hate the world because they blame the world for something that they should know better to fix.

It is how we perceive situations that ultimately guide our emotions. Click To Tweet

Let’s get even deeper into this book.  I’m going to present you a number of my favorite lessons and hopefully, a few resonate with you.  I wish I could get through all of them, but you’ll just have to pick up the book to discover the rest.

Life is a River

Let’s imagine that life is a river.  Now how do we look at the river?  It depends on where our vantage point is.  The river sure looks different if we are on the shore looking at it or if we’re swimming in the middle of it.  Either way, the river is going to do it’s thing regardless of where you are.

Develop Mind Control

What if I told you that if you can control your thoughts, you can master your mind, which ultimately allows you to deal with whatever the world throws your way?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you might feel like the swimmer swimming upstream just to keep from getting swept down the rapids.  But if you can view your situation as the person on shore, you could get a different perspective and see how you mitigate what’s overwhelming you.

You Only Get One Shot…Don’t Blow It

Because really, we only get one life.  Only you can control how you go through it, how you see it, and how you enjoy it.

Be the person on the shore viewing the world in all its beauty and ugliness.  At least from here you’re in control and have the capacity to interact with the world in your way.  You can swim through it, paddle across it, hire a ferry, it doesn’t matter as long as you pick your route.

Consistency is Everything

Don’t get overwhelmed trying to do too much too fast.  Understand those small activities add up to something greater.  Think about your retirement account.  You could add a few dollars to it every day, which doesn’t seem like much, but over thirty years you’ll be sitting on a huge nest egg because of the Law of Compounding.  

This also works with non-monetary things like knowledge.  That’s why I recommend learning a little bit every day.  It might not feel like much, but over time you’ll be way smarter than if you only crammed a book or two a year.

Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

If you’re to look at the world rationally and from all vantage points, you’ve got to learn the art of changing your mind when your past conviction proves to be false. Marc Andreessen, a prominent venture capitalist in Silicon Valley has a saying, “Strong convictions, loosely held.”

That’s how we should be going through the world.  Put in the effort to develop your own ideas of the world and stick to them, until new evidence is present and then change your mind fast.  If you stick with something that has been proven wrong, you are doing the entire world a disservice.

Strong convictions, loosely held. Click To Tweet

Why Should We Listen to Marcus?

Considered the last of the “Five Good Emperors” by Niccolò Machiavelli, Marcus Aurelius was born in 121 AD.

Marcus Aurelius was known as a benevolent, ardent and loyal ruler who put his commitment to the Roman Empire above all else. His sense of duty and good will was, presumably, a consequence of his Stoicism.

He was an avid student of the Stoic school of philosophy and was committed to putting his philosophy into practice, living his life through his understanding and interpretation of Stoicism.  

Actionable Nugget

A quote from Marcus that really hits me deep, “You didn’t control nature bringing you into this world, why be scared of when nature says it’s time to leave? So make your exit with grace the same grace shown to you.”

How afraid are you of death?  I used to be terrified, but over time I’ve lost that fear.  I think the fear of death really is the fear of losing those around you.

So what can we do that’s in our locus of control?  Go show your appreciation to those you really care about.  Call up grandma and grandpa if they are still around.  Say hi to your parents.  Go see them and give them a big hug if you can.

If you don’t have anyone, well reach out to me. I’m here for you. We are social creatures, we all need someone.

Stay thought-full. 

If you’re interested in reading Meditations for yourself, I highly recommend this edition:

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