In Meditations, Marcus Aurelius focuses on the power of our minds and how we can change our thoughts to improve the way we move through the world. He focuses on self-awareness and the importance of recognizing how we behave and react to things and events in our lives. By taking control of our thoughts and actions we give ourselves the power to guide our life in a way that is the most productive and helps us be the best possible version of ourselves.
When it comes to our behaviors and reactions Aurelius writes, “It is in our power to have no opinion about a thing, and not to be disturbed in our soul, for things themselves have no natural power to form our judgements” (emphasis mine). What Aurelius is saying in this quote is that we can decide how we will react to events in our world and that we shape the way that our lives play out. In the general course of our lives we can change the way we think about and perceive events that we deem to be negative if we can refocus our thoughts and find a positive perspective.
Changing our thoughts means that we have to recognize that no event and no thing has power over our individual faculties of mind. We always have control over our mind even if we have lost all else. Certainly this is a great challenge during major life challenges like illness, foreclosure, and death, but recognizing your own ability to control your faculties of mind can help give you a stillness during the tempest, and return power to your situation. Aurelius argues that this ability allows us to abandon the idea that something is either good or bad, and gives us the skill to evaluate the world in a more complete manner. It is in our power to decide whether we think something is good or bad, an it is up to us to determine how any event or item impacts our life.