Picture Marcus Aurelius writing these words to himself in the middle of a desolate military camp. He’s the world’s most powerful man, and accordingly, was also hated, envied, targeted. He’s got incredible power but also incredible responsibility. He’s exhausted but also in his element.
So what does he decide to write to himself?
“Concentrate every minute like a Roman— like a man— on doing what’s in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly, with justice. And on freeing yourself from all other distractions. Yes, you can— if you do everything as if it were the last thing you were doing in your life, and stop being aimless, stop letting your emotions override what your mind tells you, stop being hypocritical, self-centered, irritable.”
Fast forward to the present: You are not the Emperor of Rome. You face challenges that, thankfully, are for the most part, not matters of life and death. The fate of millions of people doesn’t hang on your decisions.
So what’s distracting you? What’s preventing you from focusing on the things that matter? Why can’t you focus on this moment here—like a Roman, like a dutiful citizen and an adult? What emotions are you letting cloud your judgement? What keeps you from being truthful, generous, and even-tempered?
The answer is nothing.