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Posts Tagged ‘beneficence’

Meditations_AureliusMarcus Aurelius‘ writings are often cited as among the most influential thoughts within the leadership space. As a result, I’m taking my time reading through a translation of his Meditations. He started right off by thanking a group of people who have helped make him the man and emperor that he was by telling the reader what he learned from said person. Here’s what he had to say that he learned his mother:

From my mother, piety and beneficence, and abstinence, not only from evil deeds, but even from evil thoughts; and further simplicity in my way of living, far removed from the habits of the rich.

Aurelius indicated that living simply, unlike the rich patrons he saw around himself, was something worthy of pursuing. This flies in the face of the way we see so many celebrities in our world today living. I’m sure it flew in the face of what was generally believed by the Roman society or Aurelius’ day, which is likely why Aurelius called it out. Actually, everything he said there flies in the face of what is portrayed as “having it made.” His list, broken down:

  • Faith (piety)
  • Being charitable (beneficence)
  • avoiding evil deeds
  • avoiding evil thoughts
  • living simply / plainly

This certainly runs counter to the goal of “partying like a rock star,” doesn’t it? As an emperor he surely could have lived the opposite of all of these points. Other emperors did, both before and after. But that wasn’t Marcus Aurelius’ style. He didn’t need that excess / debauchery. He didn’t see how that allowed him to accomplish what he really wanted out of life and allowed him to live a fulfilled life.

By the way, this isn’t the only reference to living simply and avoiding the trappings of the rich that he gives in the “thank you list.” So if you want to “live like an emperor,” give some thought to Marcus Aurelius’ words.

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