I’m reading up on Marcus Aurelius. I’ve had one of his quotes on my wall for years – too long to not know much about him.
“Uh… he was a Roman Emperor philosopher…?”
Anyway, he lived a fascinating life in a fascinating way.
He, like all stoics, saw anger, hatred and the desire for revenge as irrational.
Yep – he didn’t see them as ‘unwise’ or ‘risky’. Purely irrational. And acting on these passions, as he saw it, was literally madness.
How does that work? Surely anger is useful sometimes, right?
Consider this example:
When Marcus was getting on a bit, one of his generals seized control of Egypt, declared himself emperor of Rome and tried to overthrow him.
This general – Cassius – was someone he trusted with enormous power.
Someone he called a friend.
This was a threat to his life and his legacy. On top of that, it was a personal betrayal.
As soon as Marcus heard the news, he rallied his troops, got down to action… and pardoned Cassius.
And he pardoned all his followers, including the soldiers fighting for him.
He even wrote to the senate to make sure there was no confusion. Personally and legally, he forgave the usurpers before a single battle even took place.
Giving into his emotions would have been foolish and weak. Instead of wailing at the cruel injustice of it all, he took action. He didn’t waste a single moment thinking ill of his new enemy.
What would have been the point?
He mobilised by the time lesser minds would be still in shock.
And what happened to dear, old Cassius?
His soldiers saw two futures:
In one, they would fight a formidable emperor with the full backing of the senate.
In the other, Cassius dies and all is forgiven.
So the rogue general died of rather unnatural causes.
It turns out this forgiveness thing can be pretty powerful, huh?
Now, I’m not at this level yet.
I still succumb to the occasional fits of passion/madness.
I dwell on destructive thoughts, bitterness, revenge fantasies…
But I do so far, far less than I used to. And this change has gotten we through some wildly difficult times. Instead of reacting and burning up my energy with anger, I got to work as best I could.
I didn’t accept the bad situations, but I didn’t surrender control over my emotions to them either.
There are many tips and tricks out there to help you let go of your anger and ego.
The best – by far – are self-hypnosis and meditation.
And you can learn both to an elite level, plus a whole lot more besides, right here: