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Pearls of wisdom from Rome’s greatest emperor.

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The first time I learnt about Marcus Aurelius was probably the same time most people became familiar with his name — after watching Gladiator.

In the film, he is portrayed as a wise elder statesmen who knows his reign is coming to an end. Faced with the difficult choice of anointing his narcissistic and sadistic son Commodus, or the General, Maximus, as his successor, he chose the latter.

I won’t spoil the film for you if you haven’t seen it, but things don’t go according to plan.

The Marcus Aurelius that is portrayed in the film is only a glimpse…

Write for your reasons, not the ‘right’ reasons

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Why do you write? It’s a question often asked of writers and even by writers to other writers.

One reason is we assume one must have a reason for doing everything. We work to put a roof over our heads and provide for our family. We watch TV to relax after a hard day or write to express our feelings and share our thoughts with the world.

Most writers have a reason for why they write. But if you were to ask those same writers for the reason they write, you’d get a range of different answers. …

A reading list for the good of the planet

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Wherever you are in the world, climate change is a reality. It doesn’t matter if you live in the Arctic Circle in Norway, or the South Island of New Zealand, climate change affects us all.

I first became interested in climate change when I was a child. The idea the planet may become too hot for us to inhabit was fascinating and terrifying.

I didn’t understand the potential impacts of climate change until I spent a year in Australia. …

Books to keep me company as a castaway

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We have a radio show in the UK called Desert Island Discs.

Guests are asked to select eight songs they’d want with them if they were marooned on a desert island.

It’s an interesting premise and one I thought I adapt for books. Reading is one of my favourite pastimes but what if I was restricted to a certain number of books? Which ones would I choose?

It’s important to note the books wouldn’t be of practical benefit if you were stranded on a desert island. Rather, books which have had a lasting impact on your life.

This could be…

An act of war that led to an act of creative protest

Guernica by Pablo Picasso, 1937.

Guernica is a town in the province of Biscay in the Basque Country, Spain. On 26 April 1937, the town became known around the world. For three hours, the warplanes of the German Condor Legion at the behest of Spanish Nationalists led by General Franco mercilessly bombed the town.

Spain was in the midst of a civil war between the forces of Franco and the ruling Republic. The war, which had begun in 1936, was a brutal battle of attrition set amongst the spectre of totalitarianism sweeping across Europe during the 1930s.

Guernica was being used as a communications centre…

Lockdowns are a blunt tool, but an effective one.

Photo by Sergi Brylev on Unsplash

Wherever you are in the world, you’ve almost certainly been under a lockdown at some during the past year.

The Coronavirus has swept the globe with few countries untouched. What seemed like a curiosity in China in early 2020, quickly became a global health emergency.

I remember watching the news in the early days when the virus broke out in Wuhan. I stared in disbelief at the millions of people stuck in their apartments in order to stop the spread of the virus. Back then, I was certain this would never happen in the West.

I was wrong. As you…

Simple steps you can implement today

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By 2050, it’s estimated there’ll be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

That’s one scary statistic. But that’s only the tip of the plastic garbage heap. Since 1950, the amount of plastic in the world has increased from 2 million tons to 381 million in 2015. 91% of which has never been recycled. When a plastic bag is only used for 15 minutes but can last for a millennium, it’s obvious we have a huge plastic problem.

These statistics are disturbing. Alarm bells should be ringing in your head. We’re turning the Earth into a plastic planet. Thankfully, we’re…

Timeless knowledge from some lesser-known texts

Photo by L’odyssée Belle on Unsplash

With so many books to read, it’s no surprise most of us gravitate to the most popular books. They’re the easiest to remember and it’s all too easy to jump on the bandwagon.

While it’s beneficial to read these books, if everyone else is reading them, you’re not broadening your thinking. You're not striking out and searching for books which fall outside of the most popular lists.

Just because a book isn’t well-known doesn’t mean it’s worth reading. Plenty of books have fallen out of fashion, only for them to re-emerge and become popular once again.

One person’s classic is…

‘I know that I know nothing.’

Statue of Socrates (source)

Socrates is one of the founders of western philosophy. Born in Athens in 470 BC, his teachings are as relevant today as they were in the heady days of Greece.

What’s remarkable about Socrates is that he wrote no texts while he was alive. What we know about Socrates comes from the dialogues of Plato and Xenophon, two of his students.

These dialogues form the basis of Socrates’ philosophy. One of the key components of this is the Socratic method. …

#1. You’re replaceable

Photo: Austin Distel/Unsplash

The office is a strange environment. Hundreds of people working away at various problems while huddled at their desks staring at a screen.

This is one way of looking at how an office works.

Another is to look at the office like a giant social experiment. You can tell a lot about people from how they conduct themselves in an office environment for better and worse.

Some people try to climb the greasy pole by demeaning others. Some people sit at their desk while their life passes them by. While others look around and wonder how they ended up there.

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