Marcus Aurelius was Roman Emperor from 161 to 180. He ruled with Lucius Verus as co-emperor from 161 until Verus’ death in 169. He was the last of the Five Good Emperors, and is also considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers. Wikipedia
Don’t spend time worrying about frivolous people who have no positive impact on others.
Your energy and time are both limited, so don’t waste them on what those inconsequential to your life are doing, thinking, and saying.
The duty of a human being is to help others that we share life with, and one should not fill one’s mind with anxiety-inducing, frivolous thoughts, especially since they often lead to negative outcomes.
“A key point to bear in mind: The value of attentiveness varies in proportion to its object,” Marcus writes.
“You’re better off not giving the small things more time than they deserve.”
Live in the present.
“Each of us lives only now, this brief instant. The rest has been lived already, or is impossible to see,” Marcus writes.
There is nothing to be gained from letting your mind live separate from where your body finds itself.
Refrain from imposing your feelings onto reality
The emperor was faced with constant fighting, the rebellion of his general Cassius, the deaths of his wife and close friend, and the realization that his son Commodus was destined to be a bad ruler.
But when he removed his feelings from how he perceived these events, he was able to have empathy for the people who disappointed him and acceptance for the losses that hurt him, since nothing in nature — like death and decay — is evil, he writes
Turn an obstacle into an opportunity.
As Marcus writes: “Something happens to you. Good. It was meant for you by nature, woven into the pattern from the beginning… Get what you can from the present — thoughtfully, justly.”
Find peace within yourself
Marcus writes that people try to retreat from their problems and responsibilities by going somewhere like the mountains or the beach, but that travel isn’t necessary to recollect yourself.
He advocates a kind of brief meditation, where you withdraw into yourself and quiet your mind.
Dont resent people for their character
If someone’s character flaw has caused one of your problems, do not exert energy trying to change that person’s character. Let things go.
“You might as well resent a fig tree for secreting juice,” Marcus writes.
You are the only person responsible for your happiness
Choose not to be harmed — and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed — and you haven’t been,” Marcus writes.
Similarly, do not let adulation from others overwhelm you.
Do not define yourself by others’ perception of you, since the only way someone can truly harm you is if they change your character.
Mortality isn’t going to last forever
“You could leave life right now,” Marcus writes. “Let that determine what you say and think.”
He explains that he should not fear death, but be mindful of the impermanence of the human experience. If he overcomes the fear of death, then nothing else should inspire fear within him. That can free him to accomplish what he feels compelled to do.
It also frees him to see people’s character more clearly, beyond the values imposed by social structure, since “death and life, success and failure, pain and pleasure, wealth and poverty, all these happen to good and bad alike, and they are neither noble nor shameful — and hence neither good nor bad,” he writes.
Marcus regularly ruminates on how an individual’s place in the universe is minute, and that even the most celebrated people are washed away by time. When he wonders, then, what the point of it all is, he concludes that it is about a personal journey.
He notes the importance of meditation and reflection, but judges the mark of personal progress to be through action that helps others and in turn connects you more with the human experience. In his final years, he kept reminding himself that he could not afford to slow down.
“Do what nature demands,” he writes to himself. “Get a move on — if you have it in you — and don’t worry whether anyone will give you credit for it. And don’t go expecting Plato’s Republic; be satisfied with even the smallest progress, and treat the outcome of it all as unimportant.”