Excerpts from Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor (161-180) and Stoic philosopher.
“At every moment keep a sturdy mind on the task at hand… doing it with strict and simple dignity, affection, freedom, and justice – giving yourself a break from all other considerations. You can do this if you approach each task as if it is your last, giving up every distraction, emotional subversion of reason, and all drama, vanity, and complaint over your fair share. You can see how mastery over a few things makes it possible to live an abundant and devout life…
Were you to live three thousand years, or even a countless multiple of that, keep in mind that no one ever loses a life other than the one they are living, and no one ever lives a life other than the one they are losing. The longest and the shortest life, then, amount to the same, for the present moment lasts the same for all and is all anyone possesses. No one can lose either the past or the future, for how can someone be deprived of what’s not theirs?…
Don’t let your reflection on the whole sweep of life crush you. Don’t fill your mind with all the bad things that might still happen. Stay focused on the present situation and ask yourself why it’s so unbearable and can’t be survived.”
Two Stoic prompts from Ryan Holiday’s The Daily Stoic Journal –
Am I keeping a sturdy mind on the task at hand?
Am I content to be clueless about things that don’t matter?