Marcus Aurelius, one of the more decent Roman Emperors, kept a journal on philosophical topics which is now known as the Meditations, such as how to live well and how to be a good leader. Some of the virtues he reflected on are just as relevant today. I am attempting to apply these same Stoic principles daily.
- Hard Work
Hard work is a desire, not a chore.
Being polite and courteous is a recognition of how your own emotion is not any more important than anyone else’s emotions. It is a mark of equality and self-discipline.
Marcus mentions the ‘Serenity of Temper’. He wants to learn to control his anger because he understands anger is an important emotion to control.Marcus could not let himself make rash and reckless decisions when overcome by anger.
As the richest and most powerful man in the Roman Empire, it’s interesting he valued generosity as one of the most important virtues. He isn’t talking about material wealth. We need to be generous in our thoughts as well as our actions. Generosity is thinking the best of people, and acting accordingly. It’s giving people the chance to be the very best person possible. Instead of judging a person harshly, you judge fairly.
Piety is respect and dedication towards God and religious beliefs. Piety isn’t preaching your beliefs but instead quietly living them. It’s a religious devotion. It’s the application of personal belief, which could be considered pious.
Marcus was rich and powerful and knew it could corrupt. He advocates for simplicity of living ‘unlike the usual lives of the rich’. The only way to balance the extremes between riches and poverty is to live simply. Learn to live with just enough and you will always be happy.
Patience is an important virtue in developing kindness because it recognizes how other people are in different stages of learning and personal development. Parents should be patient towards children, because they are still learning about the world. Others come from different backgrounds and experiences for which we should try to understand and be patient to.
Marcus Aurelius mentioned other virtues but these seem like the most important in the Meditations. Learning to live like a Stoic Roman emperor can be helpful.