At the age of 17 Marcus Aurelius was adopted, he was made heir to the throne of Rome. Born into a wealthy family, Aurelius was primarily raised in a household of his grandfather. From the start his defining characteristic was in pursuit of knowledge, he was drawn to philosophy and he was particularly interested in Stoicism.
According to legend, the old Emperor Hadrian took notice of him after a close up with death, and impressed with a young Aurelius, Hadrian adopted him into his line of succession. Aurelius upheld his duty to the state for over 20 years, through the death of Hadrian and throughout the rule of Antoninus Pius, until the day he became the Emperor of Rome.
Meditations is one of the influential works of stoicism.There isn’t much left to be said about it that hasn’t been said before. It’s a timeless manual for living a balanced life. More than the philosophy, however, it also gives us insight into the clarity with which Marius Aurelius thought. He very much saw the world as it was rather than as he hoped it would be. That may not sound like an accomplishment, but it’s rarer than most of us would like to think. The application of this kind of awareness pays dividend in every aspect of life and we can dissect Aurelius story to break down how it can be deliberately nurtured
The Problem of Having an Efficient Brain
Every day, we’re loaded with external stimuli, and if we were to take all of that in each one of these stimuli, we wouldn’t be able to function properly. It would overwhelm our brain, and we would cease to operate in a way that would allow us to attend to our daily opportunities. As a result, the brain has efficiency filters. It’s good at figuring out what information we need and when. It knows that if you’re in a busy restaurant, for example, the sound of the person you’re talking to is more important than the background noise, so it adjusts. This mechanism, however, comes with an unintended side effect. The byproduct is that sometimes, attention isn’t fully deployed to certain areas of importance unless it’s we’re active in directing it there. With efficiency, there’s a compromise.