There’s a lot going on in your life. Good for you. It’s a sign of success. It’s also a burden, a source of stress. You’ve got projects wrapping up. You’ve got projects starting soon. You’ve got a long to-do list, a lot to look forward to, a lot to worry about.
So as you feel yourself getting overwhelmed today, pause for a second and think about Marcus Aurelius. Imagine all that he had going on, being the emperor and all. Imagine the plagues and the warfare that kept him far from home. Imagine the big family, imagine the losses and the tragedies. Imagine all the people that wanted things from him. Imagine all the things he wanted to do.
Then remember his advice to himself. “Don’t let your reflection on the whole sweep of life crush you,” he said. “Don’t fill your mind with all the bad things that might still happen. Stay focused on the present situation.” Seize the present moment, he said, concentrate on it like a Roman. Don’t get distracted. Don’t dwell on regret, don’t give into anxiety. Look at what is in front of you, look at it with everything you have.
The present moment is the same for everyone, he said, no matter their job, no matter how well or how terribly things have been going. The present is all anyone possesses. To waste it, to let it escape you, to fritter it away with fear or frustration, is not only to set yourself up for failure, it is a rejection of a beautiful gift.
Focus on the now. Be where you are…while you still can.
P.S. This was originally sent on January 25, 2021. Sign up today for the Daily Stoic’s email and get our popular free 7-day course on Stoicism.