A Thanksgiving Meditation From Nearly Two Millennia Ago

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On this Thanksgiving holiday, as we each pause to give thanks, I turn to a wise piece of advice from the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, whose book of meditations has remained in print (to the envy of all authors) since his death in 180 A.D.

Here is that Thanksgiving advice, from book seven of his Meditations:

Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.

Not bad, eh? And as long as we’re on the subject, here’s another of my favorite meditations, this from book four:

The man whose heart is palpitating for fame after death does not reflect that out of all those who remember him everyone himself will be soon dead also, and in the course of time the next generation after that, until in the end, after flaring and sinking by turns, the final spark of memory is quenched. Furthermore, even supposing that those who remember you were never to die at all, nor their memories to die either, yet what is it to you? Clearly, in your grave, nothing; and even in your lifetime, what is the good of praise–unless maybe to subserve some lesser design. Surely, then, you are making an inopportune rejection of what Nature has given you today, if all your mind is set upon what men will say of your tomorrow.

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