One of the main ideas in the philosophy of stoicism is the ability to control the mind and the thoughts that we have. When we practice stoicism we are building our self-awareness so that we can reflect on not just our actions and decisions, but also the thoughts that we have. We are able to use an increased self-awareness to better organize our thoughts and begin to think in a better way. Marcus Aurelius wrote a note to himself in his book that would be published as Meditations, and in his note he address the idea that we can build our mind up through thought and self-awareness to where we can have an internal place of safety and comfort. “Tranquility is nothing else than the good ordering of the mind,” Aurelius wrote in the middle of a passage about desire and distress.
When I first read and highlighted this quote I left myself a note saying, “no matter what happens around us, the mind can be peaceful and tranquil through the control of our thoughts.” This idea encompasses what Aurelius was writing about in the larger section from which I took this quote. He is addressing the idea that we are sovereign over our mind and that no one can tell us how to think, what to think, how to react or feel, or how to behave in any situation. For Aurelius, the idea of mental sovereignty meant that he had the power to control himself in any situation and that he could determine who he was in any situation.
Through meditation and self-awareness Marcus Aurelius explains that we can learn to become more egalitarian and magnanimous in our lives. He encourages us to live comfortably and simply, and to not let ourselves be guided by passion as opposed to reason. When we practice self-awareness we are able to recognize parts of ourselves that are not treating others fairly or are allowing other people to shake our mind. By focusing inward and recognizing our emotions and reactions we can change the way we think and the way we behave. Ultimately, this recognition will give us greater control and focus throughout our lives, and it will allow us to become more temperate and peaceful in our actions, decisions, and interactions with others.