Positive Quotes- Marcus Aurelius

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive- to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”  

Marcus Aurelius

Anytime I read something like this, the same thing happens; I go into critical thinking mode and begin to do what I do best- doubt.  If I implemented the proposed process into my daily life, I feel that, at least at first, it would go something like this:

“Okay, I’m awake.  What was that I was supposed to do…oh yeah!  Alright, think about what a privilege it is to be alive.  Breathe deeply, be thankful for my thoughts, my ability to enjoy or experience pleasure, the numerous sources of love in my life.  That’s all nice, but what about what a burden it is to know of the consequences of death, to know that everyone I love will die?  Or what about my ability to experience pain, sorrow, or to hate?  And my thoughts?!  Am I supposed to buy that it’s such a privilege to have the ability to think?  There’s no telling how many times my thinking got me in trouble.  In fact, I feel like negativity is the myelin sheath, or the aura of my thoughts.”

I know that initially, I would lose so much positive thought just because my mind likes to think about ‘buts’.  It comes from a good place, which makes it all the more eye-gougingly complicated for me to understand.

When I really break it down, I don’t truly believe that the source of my thoughts is a negative place, but because of the way it works (or doesn’t), it still produces much negativism.  I’m particularly concerned with fairness, because I think it can be achieved, but because of this, anytime I think something positive, my mind, wanting to be honest with itself, reminds me of some opposite situation in which the statement being made becomes utterly false.

All that being said, I really like this quote; I respect where it’s coming from, because I believe that if we all took a little more time to simply be alive and ponder how unlikely it is that we even exist, maybe we’d start concerning ourselves with more wonderful things and stop allowing establishments to brainwash us into believing that money’s going to make anything better.  It is my firm belief that it won’t.

Positive thinking practice on the other hand, I think that has some actual value.  It sounds ‘hippy dippy’ I know, but have you ever just examined your money?  I take out a dollar bill from time to time and just examine it closely.  I come to the same conclusion:  This thing is useless.  It literally cannot do anything useful in a practical sense.  Positive thinking, however, can spur you to create something beautiful, be more productive and positive at work, or maybe even to simply relax.  These are all things that are practically useful to us in our everyday lives.

In essence, these posts are, for me, putting into practice what this quote suggests.  I do want to start turning my thoughts toward happier subjects, because while I know that the sad stuff is out there, I don’t have enough time in this existence to allow myself to get bogged down with it.

All in all, what I like about this quote is that it is subtly clever in a couple of ways.  First, it sets up an expectation of what it means to be alive- to breath, to love, to think, etc.  While I would argue that feeling pain is also part of life, what it means to actually live, like love, is so subjective that you have to be the one to define what it means to yourself, therefore, in the scope of this quote, I think Marcus is trying to remind us that we have control over the thought processes of our minds and that we have to come to terms with what it means to be alive.

Second, it focuses on universal themes.  It asks us to practice.  It asks us to change our lives by altering how we respond to the new day.  The actual act of what it wants us to do is noticeably close to prayer, but because of those universal themes that most everyone should be able to agree on, it urges us to act in unison without the baggage of religious diversity.

Can you imagine how different our world would be if everyone did what this quote asks everyday?  It would give us something else to talk about when we got to work that day.  Instead of the age old bullshit greeting of “how are ya”, we’d say, “I woke up this morning and realized just how mind-blowing and amazing it is that I continue to exist from moment to moment.”  To me, hearing about each person’s revelations as they matured into more and more positively oriented people would be so much more productive and interesting than the idle, awkward chatter of the stress riddled, self serving, confused children most of us are today, and I currently count myself among those numbers.

But I’d like to change it.  I want my mind to be bursting with the possibilities of life rather than squandering what little of it I have to the sickness of depressive thought.  Am I cynical?  Yeah, mostly.  So my question is:  is that something that I have the ability to change?


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