During my downtime, I’ve been reading classic non-fiction texts and have been amazed by how great books transcend time. After finishing “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham, I can see why Warren Buffet called it “By far the best book on investing ever written”. Despite the fact Graham’s work was authored in a completely different era, it discusses concrete strategies for identifying stocks that are undervalued with a “margin of safety” that are as applicable today as they were when authored in 1949. Last year, I read “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking and found myself re-reading passages multiple times so as to gain some understanding of the prevailing theories explaining time travel and black holes. The concepts underlining “A Brief History...” are still widely accepted by theoretical physicists, and form the basis for much of what we think we know of the universe nearly 30 years later.
I seek books and resources that challenge my own perspectives in areas where I’m not well-versed. Recently, my interest has been piqued around Philosophy – particularly Stoicism. Stoic philosophy rests on the concept that destructive emotions are the byproduct of errors in judgment, and teaches self-control and fortitude as means for becoming an unbiased thinker. Stoics believed in living in accordance with nature, and valued emotional clarity and alignment between an individual’s beliefs and behaviors.
Interestingly, one of the greatest students of Stoic Philosophy wasn’t just a philosopher, but an emperor. Marcus Aurelius was a true bad ass, who ruled the Roman Empire from 161-180 AD. He’s known as the last of the “Good Emperors” and helped free slaves and protect orphaned children while protecting Rome on multiple fronts. Between fighting Parthinians and Barbarians, Aurelius found time to express and hone his Stoic thoughts in his diary, which was eventually published as the book “Meditations”. Nearly 2000 years later, his teachings and perspective are as applicable today as they were when he wrote them.
Here are a 10 quotes from Aurelius to help improve your day.
“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
“He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.”
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”
“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
“Everything that happens happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so.”
“The only wealth which you will keep forever is the wealth you have given away.”
“Here is the rule to remember in the future, When anything tempts you to be bitter: not, 'This is a misfortune' but 'To bear this worthily is good fortune.'”
“To live happily is an inward power of the soul.”
“Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”
“Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading"