The most important question to ask yourself

One of the most powerful people in the history of the world. A man who ruled over an empire so vast, that it would take months to get from one end to the other. A man who was loved by his citizens and feared by his enemies.

Marcus Aurelius.

The last of the good emperors.

What did he demand of himself? What did he ask himself throughout his life? In his notebook to himself – the book which eventually became Meditations – he asked:

“Love only whatfalls your way, and what is fated for you. What could suit you more than that?”

Interesting question indeed.

Amor Fati.

Love of fate.

I’ve talked about this elsewhere on the blog. We must love what comes our way, and desire nothing more. This is a way of thinking, a way of acting, a way of life, which is suitable for emperors, slaves, rich men and presidents alike.

Elsewhere in the Roman Empire a man called Epictetus taught similar lessons to his students. Let your mind be unaffected, regardless if you are held a slave or have your freedom.

Thomas Jefferson died with a copy of Meditations on his nightstand and many of the most respected people of our day from Tim Ferriss over Charlie Munger to President Barrack Obama have all confessed to being heavily influenced by stoicism. And no wonder!

The ideas espoused through stoic philosophy are incredibly powerful when applied thoughtfully.

We mustn’t wish for things to be any other way than they are, and we must always strive to make the most of our current situation with the resources we have available.

Keep our focus on what we can do, and apply ourselves to the best of our ability with all we have.

And never forget that one day we will die. Somehow that is a sobering thought. It puts things into perspective. I understand that it is not a pleasant thought, and you might not want to think about it. I get that.

But nevertheless, there is yet to be a person who has survived old age.

With that in mind, making the right decisions about what matters and what doesn’t becomes exponentially easier.

More than anything stoicism is the needle which keeps our moral compass pointing north. We won’t always make the perfect decision, but more often than not we will have a solid framework to make the best decision given the information we have available at any given time.

Stoicism is one of the most powerful thinker-tools available in the world today, and if you haven’t already read letters from a stoic by Seneca that is one of the best and most enjoyable places to start.

What is your favorite line from the Stoics?

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