“Monday 5 Things”™….. Meditations of a Philosopher King …..

Dsc 2969 1Photo: D. Paul Graham, ‘Shop Keeper’, Skopje, Macedonia circa 2016

“Monday 5 Things”™….. Meditations of a Philosopher King …..

A good friend of mine has been going through a particularly tough valley at this point in his life. He mentioned to me that his daughter has ordered him a copy of ‘The Meditations’. It’s been one of my go-to books during challenging times in my life. Just over 1,800 years ago, Rome was ruled by the very popular emperor Marcus Aurelius for whom the last decade of his life was in turmoil. He wrote 12 volumes on his stoic beliefs that were compiled into a book called “The Meditations”. The book, which reads almost like a diary, was a good reminder of the choices we can all make to remain positive despite the painful side of life that we all experience from time to time. Today M5T looks at some of the musings of an emperor who has been called a Philosopher King.

1. Find peace within yourself

Aurelius wrote that we often withdraw from problems, responsibilities, and unmet reconciliation by retreating physically and emotionally. He encouraged brief meditations, for me it’s prayer, where you can quiet your mind and focus on resolutions. Definitely a good way to start a Monday morning, or any morning for that matter.

2. Turn a difficulty into an opportunity

A stoic has been defined as someone who “transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking.” Aurelius wrote: “Something happens to you. Good. It was meant for you by nature, woven into the pattern from the beginning… Get what you can from the present — thoughtfully, justly.”

3. Worry is negative energy

Don’t spend time worrying about toxic people who have no positive impact on you or others. Our energy is limited and time here on earth is finite so why worry about what other people, who are likely inconsequential to your life, are doing, thinking, or saying about you or others? Aurelius said, “A key point to bear in mind: The value of attentiveness varies in proportion to its object. You’re better off not giving the small things more time than they deserve.” In other words, don’t sweat the small stuff.

4. Take responsibility

No one other than yourself responsible for your happiness. “Choose not to be harmed — and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed — and you haven’t been,” Aurelius He also wrote that we shouldn’t let adulation from others skew our thinking, nor should we define ourselves by the perception that others have of us because the only way someone can truly harm you is if they change your character.

5. Keep progressing

Aurelius had a recurring theme of how our time here on earth is diminutive, and that even the most famous and celebrated people are washed away by time. (King Solomon also had something to say about this). When Aurelius questioned the point of life, he concluded that we all have a unique journey. He says that the mark of our personal progress is found through committing to help others which in turn will connect us more intimately with the human experience. I found it interesting that in his final years of his life, he kept reminding himself not to slow down. “Do what nature demands,” he writes to himself. “Get a move on — if you have it in you — and don’t worry whether anyone will give you credit for it. And don’t go expecting Plato’s Republic; be satisfied with even the smallest progress and treat the outcome of it all as unimportant.”

Here’s to a week of finding inner peace, identifying the blessing of difficulties, and making your own unique progress in life.

© 2022 D. Paul Graham, all rights reserved.

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For over 10 years, D. Paul Graham has published “Monday 5 Things” ™, also known to readers as M5T ™.  Each Monday, Paul shares his observations, thoughts and passions on people, life, and culture.