Tag: stoicphilosopher

How the wise view time

I don’t know when it all started maybe a couple years ago, but I came to the realization that my time on this earth was limited. This begins to happen for most of us once we realize what is left in terms of years is only a fractional portion of the time we have already lived. This only becomes more acute as you progress from your 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and so on. It’s not so much anxiety, but it becomes more of a value proposition, weighing the value of time against the way you live your life. You begin to question how you are spending your time and why you spend this limited time working at a job that maybe pays well, but doesn’t support the value of time paradigm that you now find yourself so acutely aware of.

Maybe you find yourself trading that precious commodity, your time for the accumulation additional wealth. I think this is a trigger for a lot of people in their 50’s and 60’s who begin thinking about retirement. You begin to realize the opportunity cost of staying at your less than fulfilling job. You become preoccupied thinking of all the things you want to do that you just don’t have time to pursue. I know for myself things like a career path, promotions, and all those other things that seemed important in my 40’s occupy little space in my mind today. This understanding of the value of time, which you should have had all along becomes so much more important than the accumulation of wealth and the agony that often accompanies it. Instead of mellowing out as we age, we often become less tolerant of the bullshit and wish for more autonomy and freedom to pursue what really matters to us.

The feeling of regret for not realizing this long ago comes up and you may feel you have wasted years or even decades running on the hamster wheel for monetary rewards. Then again maybe you have had a great career, but realize it’s time to pack it in and start something new. In either case you are faced with the decision to keep doing the same old thing or break free and use the remaining days, months, or years to do something else. If you are a fan of the stoics you will find a lot of material devoted to death and the importance of living life in a meaningful way. One of my favorite quotes is from Marcus Aurelius:

Don’t let your fears or habits dictate how you will live your life. Be like the wise person and give your time the value it so rightly deserves.

Namaste

Not for appearance sake

One of the themes I understand from studying the Stoics like Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius is the idea that above all you should do the right thing. Another way of putting this is to be a good person, first and foremost. Doing the right thing is not done for accolades or praise, but simply because it is the right thing to do. If you find yourself more concerned about how the things you do are perceived by others then you are missing the point.

Maybe you are not doing the right thing or being a good person because you find it inconvenient taking too much effort. Being lazy or selfish is not an excuse for shirking your responsibilities and doing what is right. The stoic ideal requires self-discipline and adhering to the principle of doing good. A selfish me oriented attitude will never result in doing the right thing, nor will living a life focused on impressing other people.

Put your ego aside today and think is what I am doing the right thing, is it good for the world, or is it self serving?

There is such a thing as an honorable life, but it is not easy. Doing the right thing is difficult in this me oriented world, but you have greatness inside you and you just need to release it.

Ask yourself today, as Epictetus would, am I doing this for the sake of appearance or because it is the right thing to do?

Namaste

 


This post was proofread by Grammarly.

 

Focusing on your purpose

It is one of the fundamental laws in life, that you have finite time, and using it for any particular purpose is where you will see results, not elsewhere. Let’s take an example say you work 60 hours a week at your job, but you would like to be a writer. Now that book you have wanted to write will not magically write itself, as almost every waking hour is dedicated to your work, i.e. not writing. It’s called a tradeoff, this is what life is one tradeoff after another. You spend your time doing this and you can’t do that other thing. The problem is not that we are making tradeoffs, it is often that we are focused on the wrong thing.

If you really want to work 60 hours a week on your job because you love your work then, by all means, do it, but be aware you may be giving up family, friends, hobbies, and relaxation. We have created a society where many of us can work from anywhere and we have so many tools that make this possible. I am constantly being interrupted by messages sent to my phone by various apps that I feel like I am never off the clock. To make it worse we have a global workforce, where you will often work with team members in China, Europe, India, Mexico, and the United States just to name a few. What this means is early meetings and late meetings the day is being stretched and so are we. What used to be a manageable length day now becomes a marathon.

Just remember you get what you focus on and nothing else. Make a habit from time to time to analyze what you are spending your time on and weighing it against where you want to go.

Namaste

 

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It’s the truth I’m after

This is one of my favorite quotes from Marcus Aurelius who was the Roman Emperor 161 to 180 CE and a pretty awesome Stoic Philosopher. Let’s take a look at what this quote really means:

“It’s the truth I am after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.”

Sometimes I like to draw a parallel between Stoicism and Buddhism, but in Buddhism, the truth is known and it is referred to as the Four Noble Truths. That doesn’t mean Buddhists don’t seek the truth, they certainly do, my reference is to what the Buddha taught as the ultimate truth in the Four Noble Truths. Here Marcus Aurelius is seeking the truth and reminding us that the truth cannot harm us. We can seek the truth or as he says we can live in self-deceit and ignorance. I think this quote by Marcus Aurelius is inspirational and prescriptive, seek the truth, and avoid fooling yourself and being ignorant.

What other way should you live your life, but seeking the truth? Seeking the truth means being inquisitive, learning, and not being satisfied with bullshit explanations. Don’t believe the stories people tell you, when they want you to do things, question them. Your favorite word as a truth seeker is “why”. As a truth seeker, your life will have more meaning and you will enrich your understanding of the world.

Go ahead my friend the world needs more Truth Seekers! 

Namaste

 

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About Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius (/ɔːˈrliəs/ or /ɔːˈrljəs/;[1] LatinMarcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher. He was the last of the rulers known as the Five Good Emperors (a term coined some 13 centuries later by Niccolò Machiavelli), and the last emperor of the Pax Romana, an age of relative peace and stability for the Roman Empire. He served as Roman consul in 140, 145, and 161.

Marcus was born during the reign of Emperor Hadrian to the emperor’s nephew, the praetor Marcus Annius Verus (III), and his wife the heiress Domitia Lucilla. Following the death of his father, Marcus was raised by his mother and grandfather Marcus Annius Verus (II). After Hadrian’s adoptive sonAelius Caesar, died in 138, the emperor adopted Marcus’ uncle Antoninus Pius as his new heir. In turn, Antoninus adopted Marcus and the son of Aelius, Lucius (later to rule as Emperor Lucius Verus alongside Marcus). Hadrian died that year and Antoninus became emperor. Now heir to the throne, Marcus studied Greek and Latin under tutors such as Herodes Atticus and Marcus Cornelius Fronto. He kept in close correspondence with Fronto for many years afterwards. Marcus married Antoninus’ daughter Faustina in 145. Antoninus died following an illness in 161.

The reign of Marcus Aurelius was marked by military conflict. In the East, the Roman Empire fought successfully with a revitalized Parthian Empire and the rebel Kingdom of Armenia. Marcus defeated the MarcomanniQuadi, and Sarmatian Iazyges in the Marcomannic Wars; however, these and other Germanic peoples began to represent a troubling reality for the Empire. He modified the silver purity of the Roman currency, the denarius. The persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire is believed to have increased during his reign. The Antonine Plague broke out in 165 or 166 and devastated the population of the Roman Empire, causing the deaths of five million people. Lucius Verus may have died from the plague in 169.

Unlike some of his predecessors, Marcus chose not to adopt an heir. His children included Lucilla, who married Lucius, and Commodus, whose succession after Marcus has become a subject of debate among both contemporary and modern historians. The Column and Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius still stand in Rome, where they were erected in celebration of his military victories. Meditations, the writings of “the philosopher” – as contemporary biographers called Marcus, are a significant source of the modern understanding of ancient Stoic philosophy. They have been praised by fellow writers, philosophers, monarchs, and politicians centuries after his death.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Aurelius

Accept whatever comes to you

Marcus Aurelius was one of the few great Emperors of Rome and a Stoic Philosopher. Most of what he wrote was targeted at himself, creating a philosophy of  life for him to follow. His destiny was to become the Emperor of Rome, and this was something he felt that he needed to accept. I’m sure this wasn’t an easy decision for him, as the weight of the Empire was squarely placed on his shoulders. You might equate it to being the President or Prime Minister, except that in Roman times you were not only the leader, but often considered a God.

Each of has a destiny that is set forth for us even though sometimes we don’t realize it and often we fight against it and are not accepting. This quote is more about living your life in acceptance of what unfolds and understanding that this acceptance turns out to be what you need. When I say a destiny I’m not saying it is predetermined, but that this destiny evolves and we either accept it, or we fight against it. Acceptance will provide happiness and fulfillment, where fighting against it will result in resentment and pain.

This is one of the Stoic themes that life should be lived with acceptance and you should appreciate what life provides for you. This doesn’t mean you can’t aspire to something else, it just means that you should not get caught up in forever wanting something you don’t have.

What will it be for you, acceptance of the destiny that is unfolding for you, or rejecting what is transpiring in your life?

Namaste

 

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Marcus Aurelius (/ɔːˈrliəs/ or /ɔːˈrljəs/;[1] LatinMarcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher. He was the last of the rulers known as the Five Good Emperors (a term coined some 13 centuries later by Niccolò Machiavelli), and the last emperor of the Pax Romana, an age of relative peace and stability for the Roman Empire. He served as Roman consul in 140, 145, and 161.

Marcus was born during the reign of Emperor Hadrian to the emperor’s nephew, the praetor Marcus Annius Verus (III), and his wife the heiress Domitia Lucilla. Following the death of his father, Marcus was raised by his mother and grandfather Marcus Annius Verus (II). After Hadrian’s adoptive sonAelius Caesar, died in 138, the emperor adopted Marcus’ uncle Antoninus Pius as his new heir. In turn, Antoninus adopted Marcus and the son of Aelius, Lucius (later to rule as Emperor Lucius Verus alongside Marcus). Hadrian died that year and Antoninus became emperor. Now heir to the throne, Marcus studied Greek and Latin under tutors such as Herodes Atticus and Marcus Cornelius Fronto. He kept in close correspondence with Fronto for many years afterwards. Marcus married Antoninus’ daughter Faustina in 145. Antoninus died following an illness in 161.

The reign of Marcus Aurelius was marked by military conflict. In the East, the Roman Empire fought successfully with a revitalized Parthian Empire and the rebel Kingdom of Armenia. Marcus defeated the MarcomanniQuadi, and Sarmatian Iazyges in the Marcomannic Wars; however, these and other Germanic peoples began to represent a troubling reality for the Empire. He modified the silver purity of the Roman currency, the denarius. The persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire is believed to have increased during his reign. The Antonine Plague broke out in 165 or 166 and devastated the population of the Roman Empire, causing the deaths of five million people. Lucius Verus may have died from the plague in 169.

Unlike some of his predecessors, Marcus chose not to adopt an heir. His children included Lucilla, who married Lucius, and Commodus, whose succession after Marcus has become a subject of debate among both contemporary and modern historians. The Column and Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius still stand in Rome, where they were erected in celebration of his military victories. Meditations, the writings of “the philosopher” – as contemporary biographers called Marcus, are a significant source of the modern understanding of ancient Stoic philosophy. They have been praised by fellow writers, philosophers, monarchs, and politicians centuries after his death.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Aurelius

 

The shorter and nobler life

What is Epictetus saying when he would prefer a shorter life than one that is longer but of less account? Remember though he qualifies it with a shorter and nobler life, and the word nobler is the key. There are two definitions for noble with one being “one of the nobility or a higher class”, but Epictetus was referring to “having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals.” I think this also speaks to the stoic principle that your time on this earth is limited and it is up to you to make the most of it, and living a noble life does just that.

You are bestowed with the power of choice, and you can choose to live your life as a shining example for this world, or you can waste your time and live aimlessly. You know what is the correct choice, so today seek to live a noble life.

Namaste

 

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Epictetus (/ˌɛpɪkˈttəs/;[1] GreekἘπίκτητοςEpíktētosc. 50 – 135 AD) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was born a slave at HierapolisPhrygia (present day PamukkaleTurkey) and lived in Rome until his banishment, when he went to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece for the rest of his life. His teachings were written down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses and Enchiridion.

Epictetus taught that philosophy is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are beyond our control; we should accept calmly and dispassionately whatever happens. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epictetus