Romans Like Aurelius

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius

marcus 3

With all the thinking I have been putting into the last few posts I’ve come to the slow realisation that I have actually managed to inspire myself if perhaps not others. I want to feel I am on the right path and that I am putting the best I can of myself in what I am doing, when I am doing it. The dilemma occurs with maintenance – the daily upkeep is difficult. I thought if I could break it down into points it might be easier but I needed some help.

As soon as I saw the words Marcus Aurelius in the post by Ryan Holiday I knew I had found something that might help me gain perspective. I have made no secret of my fascination with this Ancient Roman and his ability to be as modern today as he was back then. To me his words are common sense. I like that. It is so much easier to learn from common sense.

Prepare For the Hours Ahead

“Marcus Aurelius rose in the morning and did his journaling — preparing himself for what he was likely to face in the hours ahead.” With this quote Ryan introduces us to premeditatio malorum , a Stoic exercise of imagining things that could go wrong or be taken away from us, and preparing ourselves psychologically. It is fitting this becomes the first point.  I am not a Stoic but I do like the way stoicism simplifies things. Preparation is everything and for writers who can be easily distracted this can include a working space, a plan of action both for the day and the future, research time and time for life in general. Writing it down in a journal, diary style makes sense.

Go For a Walk

IMG_0694I remember reading that Judith Wright in her last interview discussed nature as important to people in hospital. Research had shown those exposed to nature during convalescence made a quicker recovery. I can see why it might be true.  Taking a break and experiencing nature means sunlight and fresh air and most of all time away from our challenges. The body needs its rest but so does the mind.  We need to guard our sleep carefully to have energy and clarity but sometimes it isn’t enough.  A walk, even a short one, can restore calm and building this into our daily practice allows it to become a habit.

Read. Read. Read. 

It brings answers, inspires and encourages. How can we not benefit from accumulated wisdom?

Review and reflect

Putting the day up for review is very healthy. We prepare in the morning so at the end of the day we need to reflect and see if improvements can be made. My weakness is not following my preparations, or my planning. (I write it up then forget to do it. Who can relate to this?) Reflecting helps me break this down. Why don’t I? Have I aimed to high? Have I prepared in the right way? Did I need to connect to nature more than I did?

For writers reviews are vital. I review what I read and have always done so. It appears Amazon might now be making this difficult, and I know many are worried and less inclined to review. Others see things differently. They see the necessity of standing strong. Reflection puts things into perspective. We have choices. Whether we review the day or someone’s work, we can choose to adhere to our principles. Getting upset is natural but it eats away at our time and our time is a gift, not one to trivialise and waste. With all the restrictions imposed now about reviews, it is more important to stay stoic and do what you can do, and accept rather than stress about what can’t be done.

The Stoics believed gratitude to be medicinal. “Convince yourself that everything is the gift of the gods,” was how Marcus Aurelius put it, “that things are good and always will be.” Be grateful to rude people, to selfish people, to errors big or small because it helps point out what you don’t want or need in your life. Instead of anger and resentment find a way to do a kindness even for those people who don’t deserve it. It is what we do that matters, not what others do. In this way we lead by example.

“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinions than our own.” – Marcus Aurelius



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