It has been a long known fact that coming up through the ranks, James Mattis, our current Secretary of Defense, always always always, has on him ‘Meditations’ of Marcus Aurelius. Why? Because it gives insight on how to properly deal with any number of situations we come across in life. The depth of the Stoic philosophy may be too much to get into here, but we’ll try to condense it as best as possible for your reading entertainment and knowledge. These meditations are an insight into the practical applications of the stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius.
The basic premise of Stoicism, a Greek school of philosophy based on the teachings of Socrates, is that the ultimate good in this world is to be virtuous. The idea of Stoicism is that it rejects pleasure as the standard by which happiness is derived from, rather wisdom and living in tune with his moral duty to do what is right is how the Stoic measures his happiness. The idea is that being virtuous and good is enough.
Why should you be reading it? Not everyone can be on the level that Marcus Aurelius was. Many regard him as the greatest emperor of the Roman Empire in terms of justice and moral observance. However, we can take a few lessons from his meditations and put them to practice in our life.
Absence of Fear
One of the great things about the Stoic philosophy is that their only fear is abdicating their moral responsibility. No worries about death or disease or what have you( poverty, famine, etc..). As long as you do everything in your power to do what is morally right, you have succeeded and there is nothing to fear.
There is a strict desire to live up to the fullest potential of your character. If you can control something, then do something about it. If you cannot, then do not worry about it and focus on what you can change.
Everyone everywhere is looking for peace. Peace of mind, peace in the family, peace in societal structures. If you’ve done everything in your power to be virtuous and do the right thing, then you can be at peace within yourself.