Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Summary (Plus PDF)

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Gregory Hays translation version

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius was never meant to be published as a book but in 1558 someone at Heidelberg University in Germany decided that this needs to be read by everyone and learned from the mind of Marcus Aurelius.

Meditations is a journal/notes of Marcus Aurelius and is divided into 12 books. See it as 12 parts combined into the 1 book.

The book has changed the way I see myself and the people around me. So let me tell you a few things that I learned from Marcus (Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher).

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Meditations Summary

First things first, the book has been translated by many authors in many languages but the one that stands out the most is Gregory Hays. 

Just some advice, don’t buy a random copy because not every translation is good, especially those that are available for free.

The book is filled with wisdom but the one that stood out to me was “You have control over your brain, so don’t ruin your life or the movement because of the external factors.”

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius infographics

Only you have the power to make you happy, sad, unhealthy, or even healthy. So don’t give this power to anyone and focus on what you can do and what you can’t.

As someone said “Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle. Some things are within your control and some things are not.”

With that being said, let’s deep dive into the brain of Marcus Aurelius.

I’m keeping my promise, this is the mini-ebook of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. So download right now and read wherever you want for free. Happy Reading.

Reacting to the Emotions 

One of the key differences between animals and humans is emotion, without these, we’re not different from animals.

As Marcus Aurelius says “Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.”

So whenever you feel like your emotions are taking control over you, do this;

  • The first step is to accept the way you’re feeling in the movement. These emotions may be fear, anger, or even sadness.
  • The second step is to identify why you’re feeling angry, sad, or having fear.
  • The last step is to do something about it. Once you become aware of your emotions and find the root, you will come back into the present.

That’s the only thing you can do. You don’t have to blame someone or even yourself for the situation you’re in. 

Let’s say, you’re angry at someone because he or she is saying bad words. Now, ask yourself, why do you care about that person’s opinion? Will arguing with someone for hours make you happy? 

The answer is, to let it go and move on with your life rather than wasting your time on someone else’s opinion.

Don’t give rights to anyone to make you happy, sad, or even angry. Keep all the rights within yourself.

What Fact Says

There are people who react to anything even after knowing the reality. 

For example, when someone asks you what is 0*1, you will say, it’s 0. This won’t affect your way of living life because you know no matter what happens the answer will be 0.

But when someone dies in your family, you won’t see fact as fact. You will rather be sad because one of your loved ones has passed away.

The same can apply in various parts of your life whether it’s in an argument or when you’re feeling sad. 

Ask yourself, whether I have control over this or not. These only questions will free you from that boredom.

Logic or fact will give you the right answers when your emotions take control over your brain, the only thing you have to do is, ask the right questions to yourself otherwise, you will get trapped inside your thoughts for a long time.

Marcus Aurelius believed that everything happens for a reason. This was the reason why even in his hard times, he looked into the facts. 

Be the best version of yourself even in the hard times.

Every Second Matters

As Marcus Aurelius says “Our lifetime is so brief. And to live it out in these circumstances, among these people, in this body? Nothing to get excited about. Consider the abyss of time past, the infinite future. Three days of life or three generations: what’s the difference?”

You don’t have unlimited time, lock this line into your brain till you die and remind yourself whenever you’re wasting your time on things that don’t matter.

  • Do you think that blaming yourself or someone for your past will change a single thing in your life?
  • Do you think getting angry at someone for their opinion will add value to your life?
  • Do you think, thinking about the future all the time will do wonders?
  • Do you think feeling sad because someone doesn’t like you will change anything? 

Why not just be in the present and focus on what matters the most? The future is yet to come and the past has gone, the only remaining thing right now is the present, so focus on that.

Make every single second count as if it is your last. This will give you the power to do the things that matter the most in your life.

To put it into Marcus Aurelius’s words “In your actions, don’t procrastinate. In your conversations, don’t confuse. In your thoughts, don’t wander. In your soul, don’t be passive or aggressive. In your life, don’t be all about business.”

Mistakes are Part of Life

You can’t change the past but you can learn from it and be a better version of yourself. This is the right way to live life, you don’t have to beat yourself up because things didn’t go as you planned. 

Mistakes are part of our life, you have to accept the fact that a mistake has been made and you can’t do anything about it. There is no need to go into the blaming game, be hard on yourself, or go into depression.

Rather, learn from it and make sure you don’t repeat the same in the future. 

Related: 15 Must-Read Books in Life

At the same time, learn from other’s mistakes and never repeat the same ones in your life. As you already know, you don’t have unlimited time to repeat all the mistakes that others have made.

Be better and keep learning. To do that, you can either read a book or spend time with people who are older than you. 

Either way, you will get to learn new things.

Show Some Respect

Helping other people is a good deed, it makes you happy and the person you’re helping to. Help could be in any form whether you can help with your money, your time, your ear, or even with your words.

Don’t be arrogant, share what you know with other people, so they can take advantage. 

There are people who don’t like to give back, even to these people, if you can, help them and don’t expect anything in return.

When you keep expectations, you will feel bad when they refuse to help you back.

So in simple words, be a giver.

As Marcus Aurelius says “We should give as we would receive, cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers.”

Meditations Lessons

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Summary
  1. Always question what you believe in. There is no need to believe in something because thousands of people believe in it.
  2. Emotions make us human but you can’t give your control to someone else. Don’t give the power to anyone to make you happy, sad, or even angry.
  3. Whenever you’re stuck, rely on facts and see the truth.
  4. Time is running as you’re reading this, so make every second count and do the things that matter the most in your life.
  5. You will make mistakes, so don’t blame yourself or the people around you for your mistakes rather learn from them and don’t repeat the same.
  6. Be a giver, you don’t have to keep all the knowledge to yourself.
  7. Be grateful for what you have.  
  8. Control what you can and not what you can’t.
  9. Always be ready to learn whether it is by reading books or spending time with other people.
  10. Focus on today. Yesterday is gone and Tomorrow is yet to come. So it is better you spend your energy on what matters the most in the movement.

Meditations Quotes

“Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretense.”

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.”

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

“The best revenge is not to do as they do.”

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love …”

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”

“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”

“When another blames you or hates you, or people voice similar criticisms, go to their souls, penetrate inside and see what sort of people they are. You will realize that there is no need to be racked with anxiety that they should hold any particular opinion about you.”

“Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now, take what’s left and live it properly. What doesn’t transmit light creates its own darkness.”

“The things you think about determine the quality of your mind.”

“Life is neither good or evil, but only a place for good and evil.”

Meditations Review

You know what? You need to read the Meditations by Marcus Aurelius more than 10 times to truly understand Marcus Aurelius’s mind. 

Meditations weren’t supposed to be read by anyone as it was a journal of Marcus Aurelius and that’s the reason it’s not a typical book. You really have to spend time with the book to understand every single word.

As I have said earlier, get the Gregory Hays translation version. That’s what I found to be more precise.

Whatever I have written is a simplified version of what you will read in the book. So don’t expect this book to be another self-help book that will make you the happiest person in the world. 

It is rather a series of notes that will make you ask questions.

Go read it.

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