A Reason to Smile

A Reason to Smile

How to be happy and powerful: Advice from the Emperor

This is the absolute best time in history to be alive.

Let me say that again: This is the best time in history to be alive.  No human beings anywhere, ever, have had the level of peace, security, information, education, and freedom that we have now.  For whatever limitations you might be experiencing in your day-to-

The Last Emperor

The Last Emperor

day life, compare your life against that of a person living in the 4th century.  And I don’t just mean common people, even kings and emperors would have dreamed about being able to fly at all, much less around the world in a few hours.  Having electricity, cars, super markets…to be able to access all of the world’s knowledge within a few minutes of using a computer.  Of having an internet *at all*!  If you didn’t have to worry about starving, catching the plague, or being murdered by bandits today, take a second to give thanks for just how blessed and unique of a life you’ve got when compared with the other 20 billion people who have walked this Earth.


However, there are many things that haven’t changed at all.  The fundamental questions: Who we are, where we come from, what is the meaning of life and how are we supposed to live it trouble us as much now as they did 2,000 years ago.  In many ways they are even more important now, since just trying to survive occupies so much less of our time and mental energy.

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (often referred to as “the wise”) was Emperor of the Roman Empire from 161 to his death in 180. He was the last of the “Five Good Emperors”, and is also considered one of the more important philosophers in history.  He left a series of meditations he’d written for himself—never intended to be read by anyone else—that he used to keep himself calm and grounded as a ruler, general, judge, philosopher, husband, and father in the midst of the terrible amount of corruption, wealth, and limitless power that he commanded.  And yes, he’s the Emperor at the beginning of Gladiator…quite frankly, he is my hero!


Here is a short collection of some of his meditations…made even more incredible when you realize that he only intended these to be reminders for himself of how to live.

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”

“Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together,but do so with all your heart.”

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”


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

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

“The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.”

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”

“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.”

“If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.”

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”


You are great, and I love you!

And if you love me back, click ‘share’ up at the top!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:

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