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 gladiators.

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 effort.

Instead of worrying, he was able to see a problem, solve it, then see another problem

and solve that one too without giving way to panic.

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 novel.

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 become stimulated.

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 uncontrollable.

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

life.

2.

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 greed.

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 about us.

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 your circumstances.

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

think.

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

weather.

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.

3.

Practice mindfulness 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 outcome.

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

share.

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 meditating.

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 naturally.

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

it’s over.

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.

4.

Serve yourself Marcus 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 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

dinner tonight.

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

career.

Your only purpose is to make most of your present without worrying too much about your

future.

5.

Serve others 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 time.

He attended funerals.

He gave speeches.

He showed up for his people, assuring them that he did not value his safety more than

his responsibility.

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

help today.

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 involve 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’t need anymore, whether it’s clothes or household

appliances.

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.

If you enjoyed this video, do make sure to check out our full Stoicism playlist and for

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Thanks so much for watching.