How does one live well? It’s a question that our fellow human beings have been pondering for centuries. Out of that simple question, many philosophies and religions have been born.
But no philosophy does a better job at explaining the ideas for living well in a practical way than Stoicism.
The Emperor-Philosopher Marcus Aurelius, once the most powerful man on earth, was also a practitioner of Stoicism. Marcus wrote a collection of thoughts, ideas, and rules for life in what was later published as Meditation.
He wrote the things in that book for his own use. He was practicing the philosophy of Stoicism. I read that in The Inner Citadel by Pierre Hadot, a book that analyzes Meditations. In that book, I also read that Marcus had 3 rules for life that are found throughout Meditations.
There’s this idea in Eastern and Western philosophy that we must learn how to enjoy the present moment without getting distracted by the past or future.
Ever since the invention of words, the human race has been lost in thought. We are constantly thinking, stressing, worrying, and being preoccupied with a force that seems outside of our control.
That’s why many of us search for refuge in philosophies that promise us inner calm. Stoicism, Mindfulness, Zen—most of us use the teachings to escape our thoughts.
We keep on treating the symptoms by using meditation apps, reading comfortable books and articles, getting rid of our devices, and trying the next solution that promises peace from ourselves.
How often have you finished a book and tucked it away on your bookshelf? Or how often have you borrowed a book, read it, and returned it?
There’s a difference between reading and living a book. Most of us simply read books. And that’s a good thing because you can read hundreds of books, but you can only live a handful.
But why would you even live a book? And what does it mean to live a book?
When you live a book, you make the philosophy of the book your own. You use the ideas in the book as a way of life. I first learned about this idea this year when I read Philosophy As A Way Of Life by Pierre Hadot.