At the present day, the most important aspect of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations comes in the form of advice concerning pain, illness, anxiety, and loss. In the time of the pandemic, much of Auerlieus’s philosophies sound relevant, due to the fact that he lived through and even wrote The Meditations during plagues. As such, the book offers ways in which it can be possible to cope and develop a psychological resilience to the events occurring during the pandemic. It is the innate belief of a Stoic philosopher that true good is within the character and actions of a person, and the belief has a strong distinction between what we can and cannot control.
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It can also be referred to as the dichotomy of control, which states that what happens to a person is never in their complete control, unlike their actions and thoughts, which are. He believes that “everything that happens, happens as it should, and if you observe carefully you will find this to be so” (Aurelius, 2002). This can work to alleviate stress, as one can come to realize that though the pandemic is happening it is not within the control of any individual, while an individual’s response and attitude during the pandemic is.
More advice can be taken from Aurelius in the beginning of The Meditations in which he describes the qualities in the people he admires. He is able to hypothesize about which virtues exist in him that can assist with the present situations, which then leads to asking about how others are able to cope with a similar situation. From a Stoic perspective, a person is able to consider character strengths, such as wisdom, self-discipline, or patience, in oneself and others in times that are full of adversity. Following the advice of Aurelius, a person can expand on their better qualities during a time of adversity such a pandemic in their daily life and interactions with others.
Aurelius, Marcus. The Meditations. Random House, 2002.