Taking it Back to When Empire Wasn’t Just a Television Show
So these posts are something that I wanted to add to my site to chronicle books that I’ve read that have changed my outlook on life in some way, especially with regards to reflecting on life and how to get the most out of it. I’m a firm believer in the old canard: “In order to know where we’re going, we have to understand where we’ve been.” We owe a lot of our culture and modern world to the ancient Romans here in the west. One can learn a lot of things from studying this ancient culture, and you should seriously take a look at it if you haven’t, but one particularly interesting Emperor, in his spare time, left us with a handy guide of his thoughts on the world, what was important, and how to go about life.
Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, which can be picked up for free at www.gutenberg.org, or checked out of a library, or if you have to own a hard copy from amazon.com here… Meditations for only a buck! However, you manage to get a hold of it, it’s worth your time to learn a few things about living well. If you can’t read it, grab the audio book and listen in the car on the way to work! Meditations from Audible!
So Who the Heck was this Dude, and Why Should I Read His Thoughts
Well, glad you asked! Marcus Aurelius (click the name to learn more!) was one of those famous Emperors of Rome that we hear about who ran things in the late second century for a pretty interesting twenty odd years. He was considered as the last in the line of “good” emperors, as he was extremely competent and was thrust into multiple roles in during his reign, many of which he wasn’t necessarily qualified for at the start. Yet, he sucked it up and figured that it was the Emperor’s job to get things done, no matter how difficult, so he went out and got things done.
Marcus was a student of the stoic philosophy that was popular in certain circles at the time. Stoicism is one of those really old school philosophies that basically sought to give you a better life by getting rid of your destructive impulses and use clear and unbiased thinking to help promote a good and logical life. While there is quite a bit more to Stoicism than that, we’re definitely interested in the way stoics look around themselves and try to logically figure out the way things work, and trying to take destructive emotions out of the equation. That’s what we’re all about at True Viking Wisdom right there!
Ok, Enough Ancient History, What Will Reading this Get Me?
Reading through Marcus’s thoughts through the different phases of his life and career will get you some good inspiration on how to lead a purposeful life. Marcus also had quite a lot to say on what makes a good man and an effective leader. One of the running themes also seems to be getting down to what is really important, which I think that a lot of people just don’t take the time to think about these days. One nugget of wisdom that has stuck with me personally throughout the years: “If thou art pained by any external thing, it is not this that disturbs thee, but thy own judgment about it. And it is in thy power to wipe out this judgment now.” There are a few different ways to look at this, but I’ve tried to learn to not worry about things outside my control, and to analyze things that are giving me trouble to try to find a new perspective.
Marcus’s book is full of thought provoking ideas and quotes. It is my belief that reading through it will help you learn how to take a look at things from a different perspective. It’s one of those works that has influenced quite a few pretty smart thinkers over the years, so you at least owe it to yourself to take a look in your downtime.
Sometimes the old school classics are the best ways to get a new perspective on things. Do your wisdom muscles a favor and give them some solid exercise with our good buddy Aurelius’s thoughts, and I hope that you get something out of it!
For these weekly articles on books to read, I’m not looking to exhaustively review the book itself, as I want to leave it to the reader to get their own insights out of the material without me leading them in any way. I will say a few things on the book, it’s basic purpose and what I got out of it in a general way. If anyone has a book that they would like to share, please leave a comment. I’m always looking for interesting reads or new audio books to listen to while exercising and commuting.
Until next time everyone!