The Marcus Aurelius guide to success

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Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor.

If you’ve seen the film Gladiator, you might remember Aurelius (Richard Harris) discussing battle plans with his general, Maximus (Russell Crowe) and his son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) during their campaign in Germany.

Ironically, while Aurelius is celebrated as one of the five best Emperors, his sociopathic son Commodus is widely considered one of the worst.

Indeed, some historians believe Commodus murdered his father during their German sojourn and subsequently ushered in the decline of the Roman empire.

Unlike his son, Aurelius had a sensible and thoughtful approach to life. He wrote regularly in a journal he called The Meditations.

The Meditations is a series of useful life hacks.

One of my favorite hacks is devising a list of 25 things you want to achieve in a given time frame, after which you circle five of the most important.

You do nothing else on the list until you’ve done these five things.

This narrow focus commits your energy to achieving those goals.

It’s amazing that Aurelius’ insights still provide advice and guidance nearly two thousand years later.

If Commodus had taken heed of The Meditations, the outcome for Rome may have been quite different.

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Sue Bell

Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

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