How Marcus Aurelius prepared for crises
The Roman emperor's morning routine
Welcome to The Stoa Letter, the newsletter on Stoic theory and practice.
Every week we share two emails to help you build resilience and virtue with ancient philosophy. Each email includes one meditation on Stoic theory, one action to do in order to become more Stoic, and links to the best resources we’ve found.
We should expect crises to occur. Whether the cause is personal or impersonal, we will be met with trials. Perhaps, at this very moment, you’re already at the crossroads.
At these times, like Hercules, we are forced to choose what path to take.
Every morning Marcus Aurelius reminded himself that would face:
Each time we face an unruly person we’re at the crossroads. Life is one choice after another. Always between virtue and vice.
Marcus Aurelius reminded himself to choose well. To do this, he reminded himself of his principles. People are unruly because they can’t tell good from evil. But Marcus knows “the nature of the good and seen that it is the right.” He understands the beauty of the noble and just. Moreover, he knows that the wrongdoer and him are in ultimate kinship. Everyone is human. We all share “in the same mind and portion of divinity.” Hence, Marcus Aurelius notes “I cannot be harmed by any of them.”
These principles enabled him to make the right choices, again and again.
What are your principles?
Bring to mind how you will meet the “meddling, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, and unsociable” and keep your principles at hand, for any crises you may face today.
📖 Meditations 2.1 ends with these lines:
💥 An amusing note from a reader. Advice he received from his mother on anger:
🚀 We just launched a series of Crisis meditations in Stoa. Each meditation is meant for a specific situation you may face – whether it’s anxiety, anger, or an important event. Use them to take 2 - 5 minutes to reflect and center yourself on what’s important. Remember, a crisis is just another decision point.
What did you think about today's letter?