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Why Filipinos Should Read: ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius

by Bryan Meniado

Happy New Year! I hope 2023 is treating you well so far. As we inch closer to February, I hope that many of us are still optimistic and hanging on to our respective New Year’s resolutions (if any!). While it may be difficult for some to remain positive amid the pandemic, poor economy, and personal struggles, be reminded that we can still try to change and improve on things every day all throughout the year. As they say, take it one step at a time; if you fall, then stand up and try again, no matter if it’s at the beginning of the year or otherwise. 

In search of hope and motivation for 2023, I picked up the book Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, who was the Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD. The book had long been sitting on my never-ending to-be-read pile. I had always wanted to delve more into philosophy but because of my other reading interests, it had to wait for a while. 

So for this month’s WFSR, I would like to share about this classic work by Marcus Aurelius, a compilation of his private notes and ideas on Stoic philosophy which is divided into 12 books. These notes were never meant to be published as they were personal guides of Marcus Aurelius to himself on how to think better; to manage his emotions; to overcome adversities; and to thrive and live a good life. 

Since its first print edition in 1559, Meditations has been translated and reprinted numerous times and has become one of the most cited works in the genre of self-help and personal development. Without further ado, here are 10 nuggets of wisdom I learned from the book. I hope that more readers will pick it up and be inspired by its lessons. 

  1. Life is difficult and bad things will happen, but you can get through all of it. 
  1. Accept that some things are beyond your power. Let go of the things you can’t control. 
  1. You may not be able to control everything or everyone, but what you can control is yourself.
  1. The universe will do its job, so don’t worry as everything will fall into place in due time. 
  1. You will meet bad people and experience bad things. It’s up to you how you respond to such. Master your own emotions, manage your anxiety.  
  1. Don’t compare yourself to others; look inward not outside. 
  1. Learn to find peace within yourself and not in other people or places. 
  1. Converse with yourself to know what you truly value. Think deeply as thinking is power. 
  1. Remember that change is constant and you can always renew yourself. If you are in a bad situation right now, it will eventually change. If you are like this or that at the moment, you will eventually change. 
  1. Bear in mind that you are not the only one who’s dealing with your problems. Listen and communicate. Learn from other people’s experiences. 

These points summarize my learning from my first reading of Meditations. Surely, there are way more things one can pick up from the book. It’s not the kind of book that you only read once. (Speaking of books that I should read again: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl) As author and modern Stoic Ryan Holiday puts it: it’s a book that you should read and reread many times because you don’t step on the same river twice. You’ll learn something new and more every time. With that, I’m looking forward to reading it again and seeing what it teaches me next time.




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