The above quote is from one of my favourite books and people in all of history.
I’ve struggled with anxiety for most of my life, most times it has been low level, however I have the rare occasion where it can become extreme and the demons get the better of me which generally results in a crap outcome.
I actually experienced a more extreme episode recently and I’ve been using the time since to get back to what I call my anchors – the things I do in life which keep me focused and full of happy thoughts and keep the anxiety demons away. These anchors are a number of things, generally working out, meditating, eating health food etc but one of the most important for me is reading, as words are one of the most powerful resources we have. They have the power to inflict great pain and bring exceptional joy and love.
Whenever I start to feel the old struggle of anxiety hit me again or I experience a traumatic event, I turn to one book and this book is written by the great roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and called meditations.
Marcus was a great leader of the colossal Roman Empire and he faced many great challenges during his life. The book of meditations was actually Marcus personal diary, where he would remind himself of his own thoughts, what makes a good man and essentially keeping himself on the good path. It was never meant to be seen by any others eyes apart from his own, but thankfully his work has been shared with the world and it’s one of the greatest pieces of philosophy in known human existence.
What the book highlights is that Marcus regardless of his position in the world was just another man and he reminded himself of that daily. Throughout this book it can be clearly seen that the problems we have of today aren’t too dissimilar to what a man of 2000 years ago was also facing, he has similar anxieties about family, wealth and the uncertainty of the path ahead.
Going back to this book 2 – 3 times a year, reminds me that we all feel the same and in many ways it calms my own anxiety to know that I’m not alone in my sometimes irrational way of thinking. Over 2000 years ago Marcus was experiencing the same issues and would remind himself through his diary and everyday practices to live in the moment, to appreciate what is here now.
I could write for days about this book and how it’s helped me, but instead of doing that I invite you to pickup a copy yourself, you’ll find it on amazon for less than £5 and it could really change your life as it has mine.
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
Originally published at medium.com