9 Stoic Lessons From Marcus Aurelius

David Trammel's picture

Ultimately its not the lessons in how to grow plants, how to repair a broken appliance, how to raise a chicken that people who embrace Green Wizardry learn, which I hope bring about the most change for the better in the Long Descent from this community. It is the lessons in changing the way you think, how you view the World and most importantly, how you act in your Life.

Its not without cause that John Michael Greer says we need a new generation of Wizards, in the mold of the court magicians of the Past. Today is a troubling time. Tomorrow looks like it will be worse.

There are many people in History who rose to the challenges that Life gave them. One of those is the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.


Most of us know him from films and movies. Richard Harris played him briefly in the popular movie "Gladiator". It is that portrayal that I always picture the historic Marcus to have been. Though even the most casual reading of his Life will teach you he was much more than a one dimensional figure. He was a deep philosopher who we know so much about from his own writings. He had a habit of frequent journaling whose which survive to this day. Though to be honest, like any well known and studied writings from history, many of the words attributed to Marcus Aurelius no doubt came from writers after him. Studying those writings then has less with honoring one man, than of learning from a school of thought.

Here are 9 lessons from those writings (watch the video by Ryan Holiday they come from here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heh5XLwZVOY Its a great video.)

1. Put people first - Don't think only of yourself, think how your actions affect those around you.

2. Another path is always open - When you feel stopped on one path, look to another to move forward.

3. Take it step by step - Complicated tasks seem daunting only when view in their total, but easy if broken down into smaller ones.

4. Discard your anxiety - Don't dwell on what you fear, move past it.

5. Well begun is half done - Its cliché but a journey does begin with one step. Take that step now, not tomorrow and make it a good step too.

6. Be strict with yourself - It's called "self" discipline. Be tolerant of other's but strict with yourself.

7. Don’t resent people - Don't compare yourself to other people and be jealous, compare yourself to who you were yesterday and be a little better tomorrow.

8. Ask yourself, “is this essential?” - Get rid of distractions. If half your tasks are unimportant, discarding them means you can devote twice as much time to the remainder.

9. Remember these three things: First, this didn't happen TO you, it happened FOR you. Fate chose this to happen, accept it, embrace it, own it. Second, its about what YOU do for OTHERS, not what you do for yourself. Make the World better. And Third, act like its your last day on Earth, and act accordingly.