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The Exceptional Life and Lessons of Marcus Aurelius, The Philosopher King

The Exceptional Life and Lessons of Marcus Aurelius, The Philosopher King

Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher, remains one of the most fascinating individuals in history. Despite having absolute power, he defied the notion that such power corrupts absolutely. Born not into a royal family, but chosen and groomed for power at a young age, he showed a unique sense of humility and wisdom.

One of the first acts he undertook with his newfound power was to share it with his brother. This act of selflessness would go on to define his reign and his personal life, providing inspiration for millions of people over the past 2000 years since his passing.

Marcus Aurelius' wisdom has been shared with people from all walks of life, including professional athletes, special forces soldiers, senators, and CEOs. His teachings and lessons on stoicism offer timeless guidance for living a better life.

In the depths of the Antonine Plague, a devastating pandemic that killed millions and decimated Rome's economy, Marcus Aurelius displayed his sense of duty and empathy for his people. He walked through the imperial palace and marked items for sale, later selling them on the palace lawn for two months. His actions sent a clear message that he would not prioritise his own comfort and needs over those of his people in a time of great struggle.

One of Marcus Aurelius' key teachings is that obstacles in life present opportunities for growth and change. No matter what impediments we may face, there is always an alternative path available to us. Stoic philosophy teaches us that we may not control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond.

Procrastination is another area where Marcus Aurelius offers guidance. He emphasises the importance of action, encouraging us to take the first step in achieving our goals. Instead of putting things off until tomorrow, we should strive to be good today.

Marcus Aurelius' morning routine also serves as an example of how well-structured habits can set us up for success. Rising early, despite not wanting or needing to, he would engage in journaling and meditation before focusing on the most important tasks of the day. His disciplined approach to mornings allowed him to own the day from the beginning.

Self-discipline is a critical aspect of Marcus Aurelius' teachings. It's important to remember that self-improvement should be directed at oneself, not at controlling or criticising others. Tolerance towards others while being strict with oneself is a key principle of stoicism.

One of the most powerful lessons from Marcus Aurelius is the concept of amor fati, or love of fate. Embracing whatever life throws at us and using it to grow and learn is a vital stoic teaching. Additionally, focusing on contributing to the common good and helping others is central to living a fulfilling life.

Lastly, the reminder of our mortality - memento mori - encourages us to live each day as if it could be our last. Life is fragile and fleeting, and seizing the day is an essential lesson to take from Marcus Aurelius and stoic philosophy.

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