The Faculties of the Mind

In his collection of thoughts, Meditations, Marcus Aurelius writes about how we should think about our thinking. His book was written as tool for him to return to when he felt as though he was not living to his full potential. Changing the way we think and being aware of the thoughts that we have can help guide us in our life and decisions.  Aurelius encourages us to build awareness of our thoughts, and to create robust mental habits.  He writes, “Reverence the faculty which produces opinion, on this faculty it entirely depends where there shall exist in thy ruling part any opinion inconsistent with nature and the constitution of the rational animal.” What this quote shows is the way that Aurelius thought about our mental state and the ways in which we can strengthen our mind.

Aurelius is focused on how we act and govern ourselves, and the choices that we make throughout the day. He understands that we will always be challenged and that making the best decisions will not always be clear, but his quote shows that we can focus on our thoughts to improve our decision making process. When we become determined to be guided by reason and not passion or desire, we can become more rational in our actions, and we can focus better on the things which we can do to build real value in our lives, in the lives of those we care about, and in our communities.  Finding a way to be mentally strong will help us shape our lives to be fuller and more meaningful.

To do this we must begin to think about our thinking in new ways. We have to understand that our faculties of mind can shape the way we interpret the world, and we can see that our mind can give us the power to change not just who we are, but who we want and expect to become.  When we look at our life and understand that our mind can become isolated from factors around us, we put power and control of our life back on our shoulders. This means that we can be guided by reason above all else, and that reason and logic can be the forces which shape our decisions and reactions.  Aurelius would argue that this is critical to life otherwise one will be tossed about by impulsivity and desire.  Looking at our faculties of mind in this way can help us understand how the world affects us, and how our decisions shape the lives we live.

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