Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is a profound and pragmatic collection of series of personal writings from AD 161 to 180 which records the Roman emperor’s private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy, in which readers can utilize the former emperor’s writings as an excellent source of guidance and self-improvement in life. Each section provides introspective and insightful commentary regarding various metaphysical and ethical subjects such as the possibility of an afterlife and being indifferent to the chaotic forces of everyday life. Meditations seeks to understand how to live the best stoic life possible, in which Marcus Aurelius utilizes succinct yet practical dialogues in order to lead him to a greater understanding of what a fulfilling life entails.

Meditations is divided into 12 books that follow various periods of Aurelius’ life, in which he undertakes a simplified and straightforward tone within his writing that reflects his own Stoic perspective on life. Aurelius advocates for finding one’s place in the universe and to recognize that everything came from nature, and so everything will return to its place of origin eventually. Aurelius also mentions the importance of maintaining focus without any distractions while maintaining strong ethical principles and upholding traditional moral values. His Stoic ideas often involve avoiding indulgence in sensory affections, in which it would  free a man from the pains and pleasures of the material world. He claims that the only way a man can be harmed by others is to allow his emotional reactions to overpower his logical thinking. 

The core idea that Meditations conveys with considerable clarity is that our minds have great power, in which people can decide how they perceive events and that they always have the choice to be virtuous and morally upright. This ability to instantly erase any negative impressions from the mind of the individual shows that people are completely in control of their own thoughts and actions, in which Aurelius states that “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” The most significant lesson in Meditations relates to mortality and the shortness of life, in which individuals abstain from trivial earthly matters and instead focus on finding meaning and purpose in an individual’s life.