Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of Rome during
the 2nd century A.D., the last in a line of
five emperors known to have ruled Rome with
authority, humanity, and competence.
During his tenure, the Roman Empire suffered
from a severe pandemic in the form of the
Antonine Plague that broke out in 165 and
devastated the population of the Roman Empire,
causing the deaths of five million people.
In the face of disaster, instead of worrying
and panicking or fleeing away like the other
wealthy officials, Aurelius advocated a calm
rationalism and kept Rome together.
He passed legislation subsidizing the cost
of funerals to keep bodies from piling up
in the streets.
When the army was short on recruits, he conscripted
When the army could not pay the cost of new
soldiers needed to replace the dead, he sold
off his imperial possessions to finance the
Instead of worrying, he was able to see a
problem, solve it, then see another problem
and solve that one too without giving way
During his rule, Aurelius found the time to
construct a series of autobiographical writings,
now known as the Meditations.
These Meditations are regarded as some of
the greatest works of philosophy, which is
why in this video we will be using some of
his wisdom as motivation to help keep you
from worrying and stressing too much about
the ongoing pandemic as well as all the other
things that we tend to worry about in our
everyday, modern lives.
Everything is just history repeating
Marcus 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 Coronavirus
as we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic,
with cities and even countries shutting down.
Some of us are in areas that have already
been affected by coronavirus.
Others are bracing for what may come and all
of us are watching the headlines and wondering,
“What is going to happen next?
We don’t know how exactly we’ll be impacted
or how bad things might get and that makes
it all too easy to catastrophize and spiral
out into overwhelming worry and panic.
In his meditations Marcus Aurelius tells life
is 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 through
in the past and are going through the things
you are worried about right now as you are
watching this video.
This means that we experience the same pattern
of life over and over again just with different
formats and with different characters.
He tells us whatever is happening today, has
already happened before.
If the world is facing crises today, the world
has also faced similar crises like that in
the past such as black death, sars, Spanish
flu, ebola, and indeed the antonine plague.
But according to Aurelius tt is just life
manifesting the same patterns.
History taught us that this pattern of life
never changes as long as we live.
Everything is momentary and nothing is truly
So why do we worry so much when it’s just
life repeating itself again and again?
Worry is what happens when your mind dwells
on negative thoughts, uncertain outcomes or
things that could go wrong.
When we think about an uncertain or unpleasant
situation - such as being unable to pay the
rent, or doing badly on an exam - our brains
When we worry, it calms our brains down and
is also likely to cause us to problem-solve
or take action.
In a way, worrying is a way for your brain
to handle problems in order to keep you safe.
Hence worries, doubts, and anxieties are a
normal part of life and while it’s natural
to worry about an unpaid bill, an upcoming
job interview, or a first date, normal worrying
becomes excessive when it’s persistent and
We constantly worry every day about these
“what ifs” and worst-case scenarios”.
We don’t let these anxious thoughts get
out of our head and let negative thinking,
and always expecting the worst take a heavy
toll on our emotional and physical health.
We need to understand that whatever it is
that 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 keep
your calm because we humans are adaptable
creatures and we have a unique capacity to
change along the ever changing pattern of
Ignore the noise
Marcus Aurelius once said “It never ceases
to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than
other people, but care more about their opinion
than our own.”
We live in a very noisy world and our thoughts
are 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 and
At times their noise has a huge influence
in triggering our fears and making us anxious
about ourselves and about the problems we
might face in future.
In return we end up paying way too much attention
to these people and a spend lot of our time
and efforts worrying about what they think
Let us look at this example.
Take worry over losing your job often because
of the world we live in you will be more worried
about what other people like your friends
and family might think of you rather than
concentrating on the ways you could improve
This is because of our innate desire to be
liked by everyone.
So we constantly seek for their approval without
realizing how much this people pleasing attitude
sabotages our self-confidence and contributes
to 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 time
when it came to not being influenced by the
other people’s opinions.
They pointed out that we do not control the
opinions of others, and that things we do
not control are irregular and the more we
keep valuing things that are outside our control,
the less control we will have.
The truth is no matter how hard we try we
can never please 100% of others.
No matter how hard we try, there are always
going to be people who will resent you, will
be jealous of you, judge you, hate you, reject
you and so on.
We worry too much about these people and worry
about nasty things they will say to us if
we do something against their choice.
There are many possible reasons why they say
what they say and why they think what they
It could be ignorance, frustration, jealousy
but they might be telling us about something
we truly lack.
If that’s the case, fix it but being upset
by the rest is a waste of energy.
Worrying about what they say or think about
you as foolish as getting upset about the
Their voice needs to be ignored.
With the ongoing outbreak of the virus, we
may want to ignore the noise created by the
media because those media companies are primarily
focused on profits and so routinely over sensationalize
certain topics by focusing on the ones that
trigger our fear and cause us to worry because
concern means clicks and clicks mean money.
So even more than ever tt’s important to
stay up-to-date with the latest news from
trusted sources regarding the virus, but if
we constantly watch news or read on the internet,
we will start to believe that there is nothing
else going on in the world apart from this
pandemic and that simply is not true.
So it’ s better to spend our time on something
that we can influence like doing something
better for example calling up a long lost
friend and reconnecting or really putting
serious time and energy into hobbies and skills
you want to perfect.
Marcus Aurelius reminds us “Remind yourself
that it is not the future or what has passed
that afflicts you, but always the present.”
Stoic mindfulness is really about seeing what
is up to you in any given situation, focussing
on doing that well and on doing the act with
kindness towards others.
Instead of fearing about the worst possible
outcome about the future, mindfulness means
concentrating on your present and making the
most of it.
So if you are worried about your partner leaving
you, being mindful about it will make you
aware about the problems you are facing with
your partner so that you can work towards
solving them and hopefully avoid the worst
While worrying leads you to fear and panic,
with mindfulness, you are more likely to get
into “the zone” or “flow,” so that
you 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 appreciate
your partner and the relationship you both
You can start being mindful by being conscious
about your eating habits, by going for a walk,
by avoiding multitasking at your work or by
Start with about 5 to 10 minutes per day and
work your way up to about 20 minutes or longer.
The idea is to give your mind a rest from
the constant sensory stimulation of all your
activities, and just allow it to settle down
Particularly now, in 2020 our situation is
one of extreme uncertainty.
We don’t know what will happen, how long
it will last or what things will be like when
One thing we do know, however, is that worrying
about it won’t change the outcome and right
now much of the personal time that used to
be part of our daily routines - commutes,
time alone at home, going to the store just
is not available.
This means it’s extra important to practice
mindfulness to recharge.
You can decide to set time aside each day
to 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 tone
for the day.
Do deep breathing, meditate, exercise, whatever
mindfulness activity works for you.
You can also practice mindfulness as a family.
Designating time to practice mindful activities
as a family will help everyone feel less anxious.
It could be a daily family yoga session, or
a quiet walk in the woods as a group or asking
everyone to mention one good thing they heard
or saw that day over dinner.
Practicing mindfulness helps bring us back
to the present, and keeps us grounded.
Marcus Aurelius succinctly wrote “Life is
That's all there is to say.
Get what you can from the present – thoughtfully,
We humans live in what researchers call a
Delayed Return Environment.
Most of the choices you make today will not
benefit you immediately.
If you do a good job at work today, you'll
get a paycheck in a few weeks.
If you save money now, you'll have enough
for retirement later.
Many aspects of modern society are designed
to delay rewards until some point in the future.
While other animals are worried about immediate
problems like avoiding predators or seeking
shelter from a storm, humans also worry about
potential problems ahead.
Unfortunately, living in a Delayed Return
Environment often leads to chronic stress
and anxiety for humans because the newest
part 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 years
ago, unlike our societal evolution, which
is only accelerating.
Hence, the mismatch between our old brain
and our new environment has a significant
impact on the amount of worry, stress and
anxiety we experience today.
Since we can’t travel back and change the
timeline of our civilization, our best option
is to “shift our worries” from long-term
problems to daily routines that will help
solve those problems.
For example, instead of worrying about living
longer, focus on taking a walk each day.
Instead of worrying about losing enough weight
for the wedding, focus on cooking a healthy
The key insight that makes this strategy work
is making sure your daily routine both rewards
you regularly and stops you from worrying
about future uncertainties.
In other words this strategy is all about
making most of your today, your present.
Similarly if you are worried about the uncertainty
pertaining to this ongoing pandemic, you can
shift your worries by asking yourself - how
can I make most of my day today?
You might realize that you want to read a
book 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 harmful
habits that you never could because of your
work environment or life situation.
If you are uncertain about your job, then
you can shift your worries to learning a new
skill that might serve you as an advantage
in keeping your job or finding a new exciting
Your only purpose is to make most of your
present without worrying too much about your
Marcus Aurelius asks us “Is helping others
less valuable to you?
Not worth your effort?’’
Stoics believe that every moment is just another
opportunity to practice kindness.
When plague and famine hit the empire, dead
bodies started to pile up and even when all
the richest people in the empire fled, Marcus
Aurelius decided to stay in Rome.
He stood bravely and he did everything he
could, summoning priests of every sect and
doctors of every specialty and touring the
empire in an attempt to purge it of the plague,
using every purifying technique known at the
He attended funerals.
He gave speeches.
He showed up for his people, assuring them
that he did not value his safety more than
He kept himself strong for others.
He was not delusional, nor gave people any
false hope or misleading numbers.
In fact, he was deeply moved by the suffering
of the people that he publicly wept after
overhearing someone say, “Blessed are they
who died in the plague.”
A good leader is strong, but feels deeply
the pain of others.
Most of us would like to think of ourselves
as a kind person and want to commit to helping
society, but we end up falling short or failing
to do whatever we said we would do.
Between the business of our daily lives and
excessive worrying of what might or might
not happen in future, we forget the world
around us and others in it that need our
We often do not show kindness, because we
don’t have enough money to donate.
However, there are ways to be kind that don’t
You can be kind by showing respect to others,
by donating your time to helping out a group
You can donate old things that you don’t
need anymore, whether it’s clothes or household
You can volunteer at places all over your
city, most likely.
The truth is that any act of kindness can
help us to demonstrate that positive identity
and make us feel proud of ourselves.
Once we are proud of ourselves and once we
have the self–confidence, we stop worrying
about the unknown.
With this video we have also been given an
opportunity 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-government
organization which is working relentlessly
during this Pandemic to provide relief to
the 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 many
other daily workers who are left with no money
and no means to earn their daily bread or
to buy sanitizers or masks to protect themselves
from this Virus, all because of the lockdown.
This organization is also utilizing funds
to support the Govt.
Administration & hospitals by providing PPE
kits, infrared thermometers and sanitizers
for the doctors and the nurses.
So if you feel like contributing, please click
on the link in the description.
We philosophies for Life, and Aayom Welfare
Society will be grateful for how much ever
you wish to donate because it will be used
to buy the groceries and other hygiene related
supplies to help these people who are in need
and are suffering right now.
Thanks for any support you can offer.
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Thanks so much for watching.