Meditations is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD, recording his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy. This is my book review.
Okay so first, this book has changed my entire perspective on life. The words itself didn’t have that much of an effect on me, but the general thesis of the book made me rethink my life.
The first major premise of the book is motivation. In this book, a Roman emperor talks to you about why it’s so hard to get out of bed and how he sucks at it too, but how you must both do it. Seriously. A book from 161AD talks about how you should get out of bed in the morning.
The present is all that they can give up, since that is all you have, and what you do not have, you cannot lose.
This quote struck me quite hard. It’s about worrying. Why worry about the future or be sad about the past, when all you have is right now?
Choose not to be harmed, and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed, and you haven’t been.
This quite is super nifty. We are only harmed by the things that we let harm us. We can choose whether or not something harms us, and it won’t harm us. Going down this road even further we come across this quote:
“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.”
And even further along we get this:
“The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.”
These quotes mean a lot to me. I was abused as a child, and I’ve been holding onto this pain for so long. But Marcus showed me that without this pain, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would probably be working part-time in Mcdonalds for the rest of my life. And this pain, it is only pain because I define it as so. I can revoke the power this pain has by deciding that it is no longer painful.
The best revenge is to be unlike them. It’s to grow, to be happy. The jealousy they’ll feel from seeing you have an amazing life, that’s the best revenge.
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”
Again, it’s all about what you think. What you think is what you are. If you think of happiness, you’ll be happy.
“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
Many people go through this life, never striving to achieve the greatest. Look at plants and the trees. Before a tree dies, it’s grown to the maximum height it’s able to grow to. No ones ever heard of a tree that has only grown to half its maximum size. Every single day, day in day out, a tree grows. We as humans are the only thing on earth that have the choice to not grow. We can choose to not strive towards our greatest selves every single day. That’s what we should fear most.
Somebody once told me the definition of hell: On the last day on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could of become.
“If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.”
I remember in university someone proved me wrong once, and I changed my opinion. They didn’t believe me when I changed my opinion, but why shouldn’t I? I seek the truth, true knowledge. I do not want to get caught up in lies.
Because most of what we say and do is not essential. Ask yourself at every moment, “Is this necessary?””
This looks to be the start of the minimalistic movement. Marcus says that in order to achieve inner tranquillity, we need to eliminate as much as possible.
Poor: (adj.) requiring others; not having the necessities of life in one’s own possessions
Poor people have to work in order to live, rich people have their needs in their own possession.
“Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?”
I really like this quote. Don’t complain about your neighbours garden if your own garden is messy.
It’s unfortunate that this has happened. No. It’s fortunate that this has happened and I’ve remained unharmed.
Every single line in this book is wisdom. What I got most out of this is to keep on growing, be amazing. Be happy by thinking happy. Fake it till you make it.