Here, I will share my contemplations upon reading the published personal journal of Marcus Aurelius, a roman emperor from 161-180 AD. Thoughts mainly stemmed from Stoicism, and Marcus Aurelius used the notes for guidance and self improvement. It’s a translated book by Gregory Hays, or you can read it online.
For this and upcoming posts I attempt to dissect quotes I favour upon reading the book.
I was once a fortunate man but at some point fortune abandoned me.
But true good fortune is what you make for yourself. Good fortune: good character, good intentions, and good actions.
To never rely on good fortune. Accept that good fortune is created rather than bestowed. Wishing good fortune is futile upon reading this pithy quote. Hard reminder that one shall not wish for good fortune in dire needs. Instead, thou shall work towards developing a good character, having good intentions, and good actions. In time to come, good traits will bring good fortune.
“Fortune favours the prepared mind.” — Louis Pasteur
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” — Seneca the younger
You know these quotes.
You know in order to have what people call ‘luck’, you need to be prepared.
You know you need to do the hard work.
You know you need to put in the hours.
You know you need to stay focused.
You know you need to keep going after the grind.
You know you need to say no to distractions.
You know you need to have an unhealthy obsession in perfecting your craft.
You know you need to work.
You know you need to develop good character.
You know you need to train your mind.
You know you need to empower your mind with knowledge and skills.
You know you need to build the life your want.
You know you need there’s nothing stopping you from getting what you want, except yourself.
They like to be the most stressed out — “I’m so stressed out!”
They like to be the one who slept the least — “I only had 3hrs of sleep, for the whole week!”
They like to be wronged — “I was unfairly treated!”
They like to think that they have the toughest breakup — “He/she treated me like a doormat!”
They like to think that they have the toughest job — “My job sucks!”
They like to think they are the poorest — “I have no money!”
The list goes on. It never ends. It’s a toxic mindset that resolves around scarcity, negativity, and victimhood.
They are the victims of their stories.
You know the quote “People want to see you doing well, just not better than them?” That’s one of the most detrimental mindset anyone can have.
Picture this, an executive puts in 60hours a week produces the same output compared the another executive who puts in the standard 40hours. Guess you should know who will cry victim by now. Now 60hour exec wants 40hour exec to work as much and 40hour exec wants to share how he/she works so the output can be compounded but victimhood theory is preventing it from happening. Resulting in the situation withering like a graceful flower all because selfish 60hour exec had a victim mentality — “I want everyone to suffer what I went through just because I had the toughest life there is in human history.” Depressing, but alarmingly true.
If we refer to Dan Harmon’s story circle above, which is a format what most stories uses, we understand that the victim is stuck cycling between stages 1-3. There’s discomfort and dissonance between being uncomfortable, feeling inadequate, and dipping into unknown territories.
But stage 4-6 is what really matters. It’s what separates victims from heroes. The hero accepts the reality. Adapts to circumstances by figuring out what it takes to get out of it. Sets out on a journey that will bring them out of the shithole. Despite getting what they want, they have to pay a price. The price usually means saying no.
Stop living in victimhood, start being the hero of your own story. That requires going through obstacles and pain. Nothing worth having ever comes easy. Almost everything requires a price, and the price is hard work.