Marcus Aurelius placed his ruling faculty, or the conscious and rational ability of his brain, above all else in his life. He focused on maximizing his rational ability and strove to bring a sense of awareness and intentionality to all aspects of his conscious being. To him, recognizing the power and control that he held over his rational brain meant that he had the ability to shape his life by changing his opinions, ideas, perspectives, and thoughts of the world around him. In Meditations he wrote about how one could recognize and take charge of their conscious and how one could view the world from greater perspectives. Aurelius wrote, “What is my ruling faculty now to me? And of what nature am I now Making it? And for what purpose am I now using it? Is it void of understanding?” By framing his conscious decision making ability in this way he was able to put power for his life and his actions into his own hands, or rather into his own rational brain. He looked at the world and saw himself as the primary actor driving the decisions and actions of his life.
This quote is valuable to me because I often feel as though my life is being driven and pulled in multiple directions without my consent or ability to shift and change course. In our busy worlds of 40 hour work weeks, we may often begin to feel as though our routine is set with external forces determining what decisions we make and how we realize those actions. Throughout Meditations Aurelius writes about the importance of being aware of our actions and retaining control over our rational brain, but in the quote above he shows us exactly how he practiced developing a rational brain.
Simply asking ourselves questions and focusing on ourselves wont create the lives we want to lead, but if we can build Aurelius’ questions into every fabric of our being, then we can begin to morph our lives into something greater. Recognizing that we have the ability to be rational beings and that we have the ability to control our lives through the thoughts and perspective we adopt, will help us to build powerful habits that allow us to constantly grow. The self-awareness that stems from the constant questioning of how we are applying the rational faculties of our mind will slowly allow us to ensure that we are always making decisions for reasons that are deliberately judged and not based in impulsivity.