Marcus Aurelius: How to Think Clearly

Marcus Aurelius: How to Think Clearly

At 17 Marcus Aurelius was adopted it made him heir to the throne of Rome Born into a wealthy family. Aurelius was primarily raised in a household of his grandfather Both his parents passed away relatively early in his life From the start his defining characteristic was his pursuit of knowledge He was drawn to philosophy and he was particularly interested in stoicism A subset based on the notion that behaviors not thoughts or words should define virtue According to legend the old emperor Hadrian took notice of him after a brush with death and impressed with a young Aurelius Hadrian adopted him into his line of succession Aurelius upheld his duty to the state for over 20 years through the death of Hadrian and throughout the rule of Antoninus Pius Until the day he became the emperor of Rome There’s much uncertainty regarding the details of Marcus Aurelius story It’s almost 2,000 years old and most sources are questionable at best The clearest image of the man is painted through a series of notes he wrote to himself, known by the name of “Meditations” “Meditations” is one of the most influential works of stoicism. There isn’t much left to be said about it that hasn’t been said before. It’s a timeless manual for living a balanced life More than the philosophy, however, it also gives us an insight into the clarity with which Marcus Aurelius thought He very much saw the world as it was rather than as he hoped it would be That may not sound like an accomplishment, but it’s rarer than most of us would like to think The application of this kind of awareness pays dividends in every aspect of life and we can dissect Aurelius’ story to break down how it can be deliberately nurtured First the hurdle Every day we’re loaded with external stimuli and if we were to absorb each one of these stimuli we wouldn’t be able to function properly It would overwhelm our brain and we would cease to operate in a way that would allow us to attend to our daily responsibilities As a result the brain has efficiency filters, it’s good at figuring out what information we need and when It knows that if you’re in a busy restaurant, for example, the sound of the person you’re talking to is more important than the background noise, so it adjusts. This mechanism, however unfortunately also comes with an unintended side effect The byproduct is that sometimes attention isn’t fully deployed to certain areas of importance unless we’re active in directing it there With efficiency, there’s compromise Michael Caine is a cognitive psychologist at the University of North Carolina who studies the interaction between memory and attention In one of his experiments. He sampled students for their thoughts at eight random times in a day for a week Out of 124 participants he found that on average people were thinking about something entirely different to what they were doing about 30% of the time This is a conservative number compared to the results turned up by similar work and it shows how easy it is to neglect relevant information and fall into the trap of our brain’s default setting There are three ways to fight this One train yourself to fight the autonomous loop Throughout “Meditations” Aurelius is active in pointing out the value of looking beyond what we intuitively see on the surface in daily life to better understand the world. In his own words “Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life” Although attention doesn’t automatically lend itself to each relevant piece of information. We can train our brain to be more proactive By keeping this fact at the top of our mind we can paint a more representative picture of the world That’s where the awareness and clear thinking begin Set a few times in your day to really look and to listen Be deliberate in seeking to bypass the compromised made by the autonomous brain. There’s a lot out there and a lot of it matters Two. harness objectivity through another pair of eyes One of the cornerstones of awareness is objectivity It’s a kind of neutrality that aims to see the world as it is and not through personal judgment and bias It’s not easy to cultivate By design our senses absorb information in relation to where we are what we’re doing and how we feel The world bombards us with stimuli and these stimuli follow a different neural pathway in each of us We all make sense of them differently We predominantly go through life understanding the world and influencing our behavior Like we’re at the center of reality and that everything around us derives its importance according to how it fits into our narrative It warps our perception of our surroundings and how they unfold In cosmology the Copernican principle states that Earth has no privileged position in the universe In spite of its importance to us on a grander scale it’s very unimportant The same reasoning applies to people Despite the intensity with which we feel and sense much of what happens in the broader world isn’t just about us There’s a larger picture and there’s more going on. The sooner We can put aside our personal biases the sooner we can understand reality for what it is rather than how we feel about it It’s a crucial distinction Throughout his work one thing that stands out about Aurelius is his profound ability to step away and out of his own mind and see the world and himself Without emotional attachment, it helps explain the depth of his insights He was able to expand this circle of awareness by tuning himself out and by aspiring to see things from a pair of eyes With more than just a singular perspective. It’s a very practical tactic and most of us don’t use it enough Step outside your own shoes Conceptualize your observations as if you’re in the body of someone else around you and try to harness objectivity through a different host of eyes. Three, routinely seek out ways to declutter the mind One of the distinguishing aspects of meditations is that Aurelius didn’t write it for anyone other than himself By all accounts. It appears to be a very personal journal there isn’t much coherence or structure to how it’s presented This tells us that his purpose for writing wasn’t necessarily to share his wisdom But it was likely to practice clearing out and organizing his own mind There’s a lot of sense in doing that and a look into the work of Dr. James W Pennebaker explains. Why? Pennebaker is a pioneer in writing therapy and the professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin American Psychological Association has recognized his work on the benefits of journaling as some of the most important in the field In 1994, Pennebaker and his team split people who had been out of a job for eight months into three groups the First was asked to write about their layoff and how they felt about it The second was invited to write that about nothing in particular and the final group was given no writing instructions The participants that recorded their layoff experiences were notably more likely to find new jobs in the aftermath of the study By writing they were able to formally declutter the stress and the noise in their minds and become more aligned with what they were feeling It gave them the push they needed to grasp where they were and where they needed to go Similar studies by Pennebaker have shown the benefits of journaling ranged from helping people better manage trauma to a bolstered immune system By journaling, Aurelius was able to extract the information restlessly roaming around in his mind, and organize it into concrete principles He could strive towards. For others the same effect is reached through meditation nature walks or even certain types of exercise The human mind is extremely noisy but by creating a routine that allows us to clear it up we can make it less so By building a habit that focuses on ordering our thoughts we can declutter the complexity that comes with living in an increasingly busy and crowded world Awareness is defined as a state of being conscious. Conscious of relevant knowledge, conscious of surroundings, and conscious of personal feelings and thoughts It’s a state of mind that aims to understand reality as close to the truth as possible Marcus Aurelius is known today as what the Greek philosopher Plato characterized as a philosopher king A political leader who actively aspired to wisdom and was primarily driven towards knowledge A leader who relentlessly asked what it means to live well More than his virtues and desires, however what drove Aurelius to successfully lead one of the most powerful empires in history was his ability to leverage the clarity of his mind The scope of your awareness defines the outer limit of what you can accomplish The more you know, the more accurately you can understand your surroundings The better you are organizing your thoughts the more possibilities lie ahead of you The ability to think clearly is a keystone advantage and it can be acquired like any other skill… Practice

100 thoughts on “Marcus Aurelius: How to Think Clearly

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

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  • Perhaps you should stop thinking that the Earth has no privileged position in the universe and rethink the Copernican Principle.  Ever consider that?  Or do you just assume the Copernican Principle is correct?  We happen to be in a very privileged position in the universe.  If we weren't in the VERY position, life would not exist–that's privilege!

    Stop looking at things the way you want them to be and consider that.

  • You lost me at (paraphrasing) "He saw the world as it was, rather than how he wanted it to be". He may have been a good philosopher, but he most definitely had blind spots–take, for example, his wife, who's chastity he praises in the introduction to his Meditations. He was either speaking incredibly ironically, or was unaware that she had basically prostituted herself to most of the Senate at that point (okay, maybe not quite that bad–but his contemporaries put it in such terms, and she certainly wasn't chaste or loyal)! Then there was his son, something that any discussion of Marcus Aurelius must address; that apple fell FAR from the tree!

  • first utube video watch in 2019, well for a while as well, impressive and well made well done, although if I may offer some criticism, the appeal's to (cartman accent) authority … was a little overdone, if the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge say 1+1=2 or wee jock mcplop the toilet cleaner at the municipal sewage works say 1+1=2 … which argument is more or less correct because of their title and position ? the argument is everything, title position may hold some historical relevance but little else, thank you for reading this

  • So.. you want me to write just to sneak into my work and get in my mind lol 🤔 SMH y'all messed that up already.

  • Its so great to be in todays time with its collection of knowledge and experiences passed down from almost mythical eras.wonder how future modern scholars would see todays era among others.

  • “If you are pained external events, it is not them that harm you but your judgement of them, it is within your power to overcome these judgments now” – Marcus Aurelius, philosopher king. If you study stoicism it has the power to change your perspective of handling day to day life. Stoicism Birthed Christianity which was heavily manipulated for the worse, I’m glad to see the stoic movement is gaining traction en masse

  • When my dear husband died suddenly and unexpectedly Meditations was the first book I turned to. My concentration for anything else was severely curtailed by shock. The quotations and observations within got me through. So many times it felt as tho he knew exactly what I was facing and speaking directly to me. Those horrible early days of losing my love were guided by words of this man 2,000 years later.

  • I don't know Marcus Aurelius launched genocidal wars against the Germanic tribes and that only partially successful, he made his son the nut bag Commodus as his successor instead of adopting an adult experienced person, and his wife somewhat bumbling betrayed him forcing Aurelius to kill a good general. One has to question the wisdom of Marcus Aurelius.

  • « -FIRST! Principles Clarice! Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing, ask : what is it in itself? What is its nature? What does he do this … man you seek …?
    – He kills women …
    – NO! That is incidental. »

  • 3:30 the sword you drew in the hands of the legionaire is a cutlas. A sword that would not be invented until 1,500 years after Marcus Aurelius. Jus sayin'.

  • the biggest factor is time spent studying something, even if it is something very very simple. even something we knew 200 years ago. example, my experience is it takes at least 5 years of full time study to cross the 98% threshold on 'Climate'…. but for that one today you have to also be fairly isolated socially… or culturally… during your studies or you will still buy into a high level of nonsense. evidence for this is rather abundant.

  • Ancient Greek Philosophy taught in a way a school pupil could understand is perhaps, along with ethics and aethetics the most important subject not taught in most schools. Greek philosophy sets the foundation for acquiring true lasting happiness in life.

  • I was thinking of somethign else while watching this…
    besides, my brain normally turns off as soon as somebody tells me "listen, this is important…(follows the story)".

  • at 04.31 harness objectivity. He shows a very subjective globe that is set with europe and america in view and at the top. ironic.

  • I'm not completely sure you're qualified to infect people's minds with this particular form of philosophy. I somewhat agree with you for the most part. but however what you're speaking about seems like an insult my intelligence. Probably just me I don't seem to fit within normality. If you think you can wake them up with this approach go for gold brother we need all the help we can get.

  • I think I'm going to come off social media for a while. Unfortunately I do get work through a business page, but really think I'm going to see if I can deactivate my personal account for a while and see the difference x

  • i'm writing songs, while writing for work while listening to this video and typing this comment

  • 'What is real for you…is real for YOU'. -lrh. 'What is real for two or more…is a matter of AGREEMENT' -ogl.

  • By the loss of his parents he dedicated his life to knowledge and his own progression into a most esteemed stature. Luckily for us he left a journal behind.

  • Thanks I’m going to start going to daily mass. Meditation, exercise, objective, nutrition, practice daily , then write about it.

  • I don't like your voice because your voice is not clear… You have some speech defect… You are a handicapped guy… Fuck this worst channel.. Please guys unsubscribe this damn worst channel

  • Great information. But once again, why the music? So many YTers do this and it ruins the video. Also, when you read, don't use that constant "up up up up, down down up down" cadence for every sentence. It's very distracting.

  • Do you play the anthem music to annoy us?
    Or to test our ability to concentrate?
    Either way, we don't need it.
    It's not inspiring.
    Your voice is fine.

  • Marcus Aurelius likely didn't know about the traditions of Meditation being practiced in the East I'd guess he would be very encouraged by their directness and efficiency for thinking clearly

  • Sorry, but because the narrator's vocal pattern– Starting Out very high and slowly becoming… (lower throughout each sentence), I was unable to concentrate on what he was talking about, no matter how hard I tried. 🙁

  • They failed as philosophers and, hype about ancient philosophy is bullshit. How can you take an example from slave owners? I don't understand how ppl can think about Romans as an example of society… Well, maybe that's why our civilization is so fucked up too? Same with our law, which is based on roman law.. broken

  • My mind couldn't adjust to the distraction of the annoying music, so had to give thumbs down and quit at 2.00. Sorry

  • YT is ok for me if I use it for positive things like travel, or education. But east to be dragged down by silly. And negative comments.

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