Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was a Roman emperor and a Stoic philosopher. The interesting thing about this emperor was while he had access to all luxury, in fact, there was not a single person alive in his era, in his part of the world with as much affluence as him. He was the single most powerful person globally, yet he lived a life of such staunch discipline.
His preoccupation was not only, not enjoying pleasures, but simultaneously honouring his internal philosophies. He was the most service-oriented leader. While his predecessors were enjoying sex slaves, drinking lots of wine and gambling, and everyone after him had the same mindset, the overall enjoyment of Roman culture. Here Marcus stood a quintessential paradigm man with real regality and morality in his actions.
The philosophy he brought into the light was the Stoic philosophy. Stoicism in its essence means to simply not be occupied with the things outside your locus of control.
A stoic knows the human tendency to control his surroundings. Stoicism also cures anxiety and depression. A stoic focus on things in his locus of control like his thoughts and actions, the things outside his locus of control, he simply accepts them as the fate of the divine universe as if it was the will of God. This gives his life Freedom and Fearlessness.
With that being said, here are seven benefits you can experience from adopting a Stoic practise into your life in 2021.
1) You'll care less what people think.
2) You'll waste less time.
3) You'll remember what's in your control.
4) You'll stop being so distracted.
5) You'll stop being so anxious.
6) You'll be more grateful.
7) You’ll want less
Here is how one can be a Stoic in the modern world:
1) Meditate on death - A common phrase in the Roman era was "Memento Mori" which literally means, "Remember you will die". When Roman generals returned from victory, and the whole crowd was cheering for them, they would keep a person near them whispering "Memento Mori", not to demotivate or distress them, but to keep their perspective right on the stuff that mattered, their internal principles. That the accolades of the crowd was temporary and not in their control, what was in their control was their conduct.
In this scene of the movie, Fight Club,
Tyler Durden gives the narrator a chemical burn, while the narrator is shrieking in pain and agony, Tyler tells him, "First, you're gonna have to know, not fear, but know, someday you're gonna die, it is only after we've lost everything that we are free to do anything". When the narrator gains his equilibrium then he is liberated from the pain.
Once you meditate on death you realize why you found peace in a meditation on death. It helps you face the truth of your life. When we stop hiding from the truth of our lives, we realize this whole thing, all of it, is enough. And that feels good.
2) Mentally rehearse your day - One of the greatest disciplines to start your day with is to rehearse or script your day, it has been documented many times, athletes perform better when they rehearse their plays, the same goes for business pitches and almost everything.
Don't just mentally rehearse your day, but mentally rehearse the challenges and the adversities you might face during your day.
Marcus Aurelius quotes this in his book Meditations- "When you wake up in the morning tell
yourself, the people I deal with today will be meddling, dishonest, ungrateful, jealous, arrogant and surly".
3) Daily ethical mindfulness: A stoic is conscious about his day to day activities, he does not think of the past or the future, he stays in the now or the present, and instead he keeps a check on the ethics of his activities. Right from the moment he wakes up, till he closes his eyes at night.
4) Bird's Eye meditation: Every once in a while, meditate and look at your life as if you're watching yourself from the sky, or as a third party, your actions, your thoughts, and how your life is playing out in the grand scheme of things. While doing this also keep in mind the suffering of the world and compare your sufferings, look at how small/big they are. Detach yourself from the idea of you and see how insignificant your sufferings are, and how lucky you are to have what you currently have. Look at your life from a bird's eye perspective and give yourself advice from a pull-back awareness; Ponder upon your life as if it weren't your own, you were watching your life in the great scheme of cosmos from above.
“Do not indulge in dreams of having what you do not have. Remember the blessings you do possess, and think of how you would crave for them if they were not yours.”~Marcus Aurelius
5) Keep an evening or weekly philosophical diary: What have I accomplished, done wrong (condemn the actions, not your self), and have missed.
6) Negative Visualization: a technique the Stoics called "the premeditation of evils" can help to sap the future of its anxiety-producing power. The psychologist Julie Norem estimates that about one-third of Americans instinctively use this strategy, which she terms "defensive pessimism." Positive thinking, by contrast, is the effort to convince yourself that things will turn out fine, which can reinforce the belief that it would be absolutely terrible if they didn't.
Thanks for reading, hope everyone is staying safe.
Memento Mori brotha! We must serve Marcus Aurelius.