Meditations by Marcus Aurelius: A Stoic Summary

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius: A Stoic Summary

Table of contents


Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD, penned his thoughts and Stoic philosophies in a journal which later became known as "Meditations." Even after almost two millennia, his writings still offer invaluable wisdom on how to lead a life in accordance with Stoic principles. This post aims to provide you with a simple yet valuable summary of "Meditations," highlighting its core teachings and offering actionable steps for everyday life.

The Essence of Meditations

At its core, "Meditations" is a guide for self-improvement, resilience, and ethical conduct. Marcus Aurelius emphasizes the impermanence of life, the importance of reason, and the value of focusing on one's own behavior and response to circumstances. Here are some of the key takeaways:

1. Control and Acceptance

Marcus teaches us to distinguish between what we can control and what we cannot. The key is to put all your energy into affecting things you have control over and accept the rest as it is.

2. Mindfulness

Be present in the moment. Marcus often writes about the importance of focusing your mind on the task at hand, appreciating the simple joys of life, and avoiding getting lost in trivial worries.

3. The Impermanence of Life

Everything changes; everyone dies. Recognizing the fleeting nature of life helps you appreciate what you have and makes the pursuit of virtuous living more urgent.

4. Ethical Living

Marcus advises living in harmony with Nature and Reason. According to him, ethical living involves being just in your actions, balanced in your reactions, and committed to your responsibilities.

5. Emotional Resilience

In the Stoic sense, emotional pain is often self-inflicted. Marcus posits that you cannot control others' actions, but you can control your reactions to them. This concept goes a long way in developing emotional resilience.

Read the best quotes from Meditations here and the best Stoic quotes from Marcus Aurelius here.

Practical Application of Marcus Aurelius’ Teachings

1. Morning Preparation

Start your day by reminding yourself of the impermanence of life and focusing on what you can control. This sets the tone for a more thoughtful and purposeful day.

2. Journaling

Like Marcus, you can keep a personal journal to reflect on your actions, thoughts, and feelings. Our app offers a guided journaling experience tailored to these Stoic principles.

3. Emotional Check-ins

Throughout the day, take moments to evaluate your emotional state. Ask yourself if you are allowing external factors to disturb your peace of mind, and if so, realign your thoughts.

4. Evening Reflection

Before you go to bed, think back on the day's events. Were you able to practice self-control, mindfulness, and ethical living? An evening reflection helps you prepare for a better tomorrow.

You can put all of Marcus Aurelius' teachings to practical use in your day-to-day life with stoic.


"Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius is more than just an ancient text; it's a practical guide to living a life full of virtue, wisdom, and inner peace. Whether you're new to Stoicism or a seasoned practitioner, incorporating these principles into your daily routine can have a transformative effect on your well-being.

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