Ancient Rome

Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Has Life Advice That Will Definitely Get You Out of Bed in the Morning

Nothing beats a cozy bed on a chilly morning. Nothing, that is, except busting out into a big world bursting with opportunity and contributing to society like the capable, unique human being that you are! Okay, got a little carried away there. But if you're Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, that type of thinking is right on the money.

Your Ancient Life Coach

Marcus Aurelius, Stoic philosopher and emperor of Rome 161-180 A.D. penned what would much, much later become one of history's most influential and admired books, "Meditations." A "life-enhancing work," this text holds gems of wisdom that are more than applicable to people today. Specifically, this book grabs your Netflix-binging lazy moments by the shoulders and rattles them into action. If you're feeling like you want to lie snuggled up in bed for a few more hours, let Aurelius' writings jolt you to your senses:

"At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: 'I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I'm going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?'"

Let's imagine a rebuttal. "But Marcus," you think to yourself, "beds feel nice, and I'm happy and comfortable. Have you felt this sherpa blanket?" This justification for laziness is the mind's natural inclination. But Aurelius has a response worthy of a life coach:

"So you were born to feel 'nice'? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don't you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you're not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren't you running to do what your nature demands?"

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

Aurelius' inspiring, borderline threatening musings reflect his Stoic beliefs. Stoicism, an ancient Greek philosophy developed by Zeno of Citium around 300 B.C., teaches the development of self-control to overcome destructive emotions. But wanting to sleep isn't destructive, right? We need to sleep sometime! Well, our ol' pal Aurelius is two steps ahead of you there:

"Agreed. But nature set a limit on that — as it did on eating and drinking. And you're over the limit. You've had more than enough of that. But not of working. There you're still below your quota.

"You don't love yourself enough. Or you'd love your nature too, and what it demands of you. People who love what they do wear themselves down doing it, they even forget to wash or eat. Do you have less respect for your own nature than the engraver does for engraving, the dancer for the dance, the miser for money or the social climber for status? When they're really possessed by what they do, they'd rather stop eating and sleeping than give up practicing their arts.

"Is helping others less valuable to you? Not worth your effort?"

Harsh words from 2,000 years ago. If you'll excuse us, we've got some practicing to do.

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Written by Joanie Faletto January 2, 2018

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