Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of Rome duringthe 2nd century A.
, the last in a line of five emperors known to have ruled Rome withauthority, humanity, and competence.
During his tenure, the Roman Empire sufferedfrom a severe pandemic in the form of the Antonine Plague that broke out in 165 anddevastated the population of the Roman Empire, causing the deaths of five million people.
In the face of disaster, instead of worryingand panicking or fleeing away like the other wealthy officials, Aurelius advocated a calmrationalism and kept Rome together.
He passed legislation subsidizing the costof funerals to keep bodies from piling up in the streets.
When the army was short on recruits, he conscriptedgladiators.
When the army could not pay the cost of newsoldiers needed to replace the dead, he sold off his imperial possessions to finance theeffort.
Instead of worrying, he was able to see aproblem, solve it, then see another problem and solve that one too without giving wayto panic.
During his rule, Aurelius found the time toconstruct a series of autobiographical writings, now known as the Meditations.
These Meditations are regarded as some ofthe greatest works of philosophy, which is why in this video we will be using some ofhis wisdom as motivation to help keep you from worrying and stressing too much aboutthe ongoing pandemic as well as all the other things that we tend to worry about in oureveryday, modern lives.
Everything is just history repeatingMarcus Aurelius says “No matter what happens, keep this in mind: It’s the same old thing, from one end of the world to the other.
It fills the history books, ancient and modern, and the cities, and the houses too.
Nothing new at all”Currently, most of us are rightfully worried about the uncertainties surrounding Coronavirusas we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, with cities and even countries shutting down.
Some of us are in areas that have alreadybeen affected by coronavirus.
Others are bracing for what may come and allof us are watching the headlines and wondering, “What is going to happen next? We don’t know how exactly we’ll be impactedor how bad things might get and that makes it all too easy to catastrophize and spiralout into overwhelming worry and panic.
In his meditations Marcus Aurelius tells lifeis simply history repeating itself.
If you are worried about losing your job, losing your money and your partner leaving you, millions of others have gone throughin the past and are going through the things you are worried about right now as you arewatching this video.
This means that we experience the same patternof life over and over again just with different formats and with different characters.
He tells us whatever is happening today, hasalready happened before.
If the world is facing crises today, the worldhas also faced similar crises like that in the past such as black death, sars, Spanishflu, ebola, and indeed the antonine plague.
But according to Aurelius tt is just lifemanifesting the same patterns.
History taught us that this pattern of lifenever changes as long as we live.
Everything is momentary and nothing is trulynovel.
So why do we worry so much when it’s justlife repeating itself again and again? Worry is what happens when your mind dwellson negative thoughts, uncertain outcomes or things that could go wrong.
When we think about an uncertain or unpleasantsituation – such as being unable to pay the rent, or doing badly on an exam – our brainsbecome stimulated.
When we worry, it calms our brains down andis also likely to cause us to problem-solve or take action.
In a way, worrying is a way for your brainto handle problems in order to keep you safe.
Hence worries, doubts, and anxieties are anormal part of life and while it’s natural to worry about an unpaid bill, an upcomingjob interview, or a first date, normal worrying becomes excessive when it’s persistent anduncontrollable.
We constantly worry every day about these“what ifs” and worst-case scenarios”.
We don’t let these anxious thoughts getout of our head and let negative thinking, and always expecting the worst take a heavytoll on our emotional and physical health.
We need to understand that whatever it isthat we are worrying about, in reality it has happened before.
What seems to be uncomfortable and scary now, will soon be old and familiar tomorrow.
So instead of worrying too much, try to keepyour calm because we humans are adaptable creatures and we have a unique capacity tochange along the ever changing pattern of life.
Ignore the noiseMarcus Aurelius once said “It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more thanother people, but care more about their opinion than our own.
” We live in a very noisy world and our thoughtsare constantly being influenced by the wide variety of noise coming from other people, in the form of their judgments and opinions, who make their decisions based on fear andgreed.
At times their noise has a huge influencein triggering our fears and making us anxious about ourselves and about the problems wemight face in future.
In return we end up paying way too much attentionto these people and a spend lot of our time and efforts worrying about what they thinkabout us.
Let us look at this example.
Take worry over losing your job often becauseof the world we live in you will be more worried about what other people like your friendsand family might think of you rather than concentrating on the ways you could improveyour circumstances.
This is because of our innate desire to beliked by everyone.
So we constantly seek for their approval withoutrealizing how much this people pleasing attitude sabotages our self-confidence and contributesto our worries.
The more we desire the approval of others, the more we become a slave to others.
The ancient Stoics were way ahead of timewhen it came to not being influenced by the other people’s opinions.
They pointed out that we do not control theopinions of others, and that things we do not control are irregular and the more wekeep valuing things that are outside our control, the less control we will have.
The truth is no matter how hard we try wecan never please 100% of others.
No matter how hard we try, there are alwaysgoing to be people who will resent you, will be jealous of you, judge you, hate you, rejectyou and so on.
We worry too much about these people and worryabout nasty things they will say to us if we do something against their choice.
There are many possible reasons why they saywhat they say and why they think what they think.
It could be ignorance, frustration, jealousybut they might be telling us about something we truly lack.
If that’s the case, fix it but being upsetby the rest is a waste of energy.
Worrying about what they say or think aboutyou as foolish as getting upset about the weather.
Their voice needs to be ignored.
With the ongoing outbreak of the virus, wemay want to ignore the noise created by the media because those media companies are primarilyfocused on profits and so routinely over sensationalize certain topics by focusing on the ones thattrigger our fear and cause us to worry because concern means clicks and clicks mean money.
So even more than ever tt’s important tostay up-to-date with the latest news from trusted sources regarding the virus, but ifwe constantly watch news or read on the internet, we will start to believe that there is nothingelse going on in the world apart from this pandemic and that simply is not true.
So it’ s better to spend our time on somethingthat we can influence like doing something better for example calling up a long lostfriend and reconnecting or really putting serious time and energy into hobbies and skillsyou want to perfect.
Practice mindfulnessMarcus Aurelius reminds us “Remind yourself that it is not the future or what has passedthat afflicts you, but always the present.
” Stoic mindfulness is really about seeing whatis up to you in any given situation, focussing on doing that well and on doing the act withkindness towards others.
Instead of fearing about the worst possibleoutcome about the future, mindfulness means concentrating on your present and making themost of it.
So if you are worried about your partner leavingyou, being mindful about it will make you aware about the problems you are facing withyour partner so that you can work towards solving them and hopefully avoid the worstoutcome.
While worrying leads you to fear and panic, with mindfulness, you are more likely to get into “the zone” or “flow, ” so thatyou can complete your work more efficiently and as you have a greater sense of well-being, you will be less stressed.
Mindfulness might even make you appreciateyour partner and the relationship you both share.
You can start being mindful by being consciousabout your eating habits, by going for a walk, by avoiding multitasking at your work or bymeditating.
Start with about 5 to 10 minutes per day andwork your way up to about 20 minutes or longer.
The idea is to give your mind a rest fromthe constant sensory stimulation of all your activities, and just allow it to settle downnaturally.
Particularly now, in 2020 our situation isone of extreme uncertainty.
We don’t know what will happen, how longit will last or what things will be like when it’s over.
One thing we do know, however, is that worryingabout it won’t change the outcome and right now much of the personal time that used tobe part of our daily routines – commutes, time alone at home, going to the store justis not available.
This means it’s extra important to practicemindfulness to recharge.
You can decide to set time aside each dayto practice mindful activities In the morning, before everyone is awake, it can be a great time to really ground yourself.
Morning mindfulness can help set the tonefor the day.
Do deep breathing, meditate, exercise, whatevermindfulness activity works for you.
You can also practice mindfulness as a family.
Designating time to practice mindful activitiesas a family will help everyone feel less anxious.
It could be a daily family yoga session, ora quiet walk in the woods as a group or asking everyone to mention one good thing they heardor saw that day over dinner.
Practicing mindfulness helps bring us backto the present, and keeps us grounded.
Serve yourselfMarcus Aurelius succinctly wrote “Life is short.
That's all there is to say.
Get what you can from the present – thoughtfully, justly” We humans live in what researchers call aDelayed Return Environment.
Most of the choices you make today will notbenefit you immediately.
If you do a good job at work today, you'llget a paycheck in a few weeks.
If you save money now, you'll have enoughfor retirement later.
Many aspects of modern society are designedto delay rewards until some point in the future.
While other animals are worried about immediateproblems like avoiding predators or seeking shelter from a storm, humans also worry aboutpotential problems ahead.
Unfortunately, living in a Delayed ReturnEnvironment often leads to chronic stress and anxiety for humans because the newestpart of our brain, and the part most commonly associated with higher reasoning – the neocortex- has barely evolved since our Paleolithic ancestors around two hundred thousand yearsago, unlike our societal evolution, which is only accelerating.
Hence, the mismatch between our old brainand our new environment has a significant impact on the amount of worry, stress andanxiety we experience today.
Since we can’t travel back and change thetimeline of our civilization, our best option is to “shift our worries” from long-termproblems to daily routines that will help solve those problems.
For example, instead of worrying about livinglonger, focus on taking a walk each day.
Instead of worrying about losing enough weightfor the wedding, focus on cooking a healthy dinner tonight.
The key insight that makes this strategy workis making sure your daily routine both rewards you regularly and stops you from worryingabout future uncertainties.
In other words this strategy is all aboutmaking most of your today, your present.
Similarly if you are worried about the uncertaintypertaining to this ongoing pandemic, you can shift your worries by asking yourself – howcan I make most of my day today? You might realize that you want to read abook and that you never got time to read before or you can start learning a new hobby.
You can use this time to get rid of some harmfulhabits that you never could because of your work environment or life situation.
If you are uncertain about your job, thenyou can shift your worries to learning a new skill that might serve you as an advantagein keeping your job or finding a new exciting career.
Your only purpose is to make most of yourpresent without worrying too much about your future.
Serve othersMarcus Aurelius asks us “Is helping others less valuable to you? Not worth your effort?’’ Stoics believe that every moment is just anotheropportunity to practice kindness.
When plague and famine hit the empire, deadbodies started to pile up and even when all the richest people in the empire fled, MarcusAurelius decided to stay in Rome.
He stood bravely and he did everything hecould, summoning priests of every sect and doctors of every specialty and touring theempire in an attempt to purge it of the plague, using every purifying technique known at thetime.
He attended funerals.
He gave speeches.
He showed up for his people, assuring themthat he did not value his safety more than his responsibility.
He kept himself strong for others.
He was not delusional, nor gave people anyfalse hope or misleading numbers.
In fact, he was deeply moved by the sufferingof the people that he publicly wept after overhearing someone say, “Blessed are theywho died in the plague.
” A good leader is strong, but feels deeplythe pain of others.
Most of us would like to think of ourselvesas a kind person and want to commit to helping society, but we end up falling short or failingto do whatever we said we would do.
Between the business of our daily lives andexcessive worrying of what might or might not happen in future, we forget the worldaround us and others in it that need our help today.
We often do not show kindness, because wedon’t have enough money to donate.
However, there are ways to be kind that don’tinvolve money.
You can be kind by showing respect to others, by donating your time to helping out a group of people.
You can donate old things that you don’tneed anymore, whether it’s clothes or household appliances.
You can volunteer at places all over yourcity, most likely.
The truth is that any act of kindness canhelp us to demonstrate that positive identity and make us feel proud of ourselves.
Once we are proud of ourselves and once wehave the self–confidence, we stop worrying about the unknown.
With this video we have also been given anopportunity to help the people who are suffering because of this ongoing pandemic.
We have partnered with Aayom Welfare Society.
Aayom Welfare Society is a non-governmentorganization which is working relentlessly during this Pandemic to provide relief tothe Poor & Needy in various parts of India.
They are doing this by distributing groceries, masks & sanitizers to the families of Migrant Laborers, domestic helpers, drivers and manyother daily workers who are left with no money and no means to earn their daily bread orto buy sanitizers or masks to protect themselves from this Virus, all because of the lockdown.
This organization is also utilizing fundsto support the Govt.
Administration & hospitals by providing PPEkits, infrared thermometers and sanitizers for the doctors and the nurses.
So if you feel like contributing, please clickon the link in the description.
We philosophies for Life, and Aayom WelfareSociety will be grateful for how much ever you wish to donate because it will be usedto buy the groceries and other hygiene related supplies to help these people who are in needand are suffering right now.
Thanks for any support you can offer.
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Thanks so much for watching.