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Pearls of wisdom from Rome’s greatest emperor.

Photo by Simone Savoldi on Unsplash

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 into what the actual figure was like in real-life. He was considered to be the epitome of Plato’s ideal of the philosopher-king. …

Your choices affect more than just yourself.

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Photo by Ali Abdul Rahman on Unsplash

The flight you’ve booked from London to Dubai is about to take off. You’ve flown many times but the sensation of hurtling into the sky in a metal fuselage is still unnerving.

After a few minutes of ascending towards the heavens, the plane stabilizes and goes into cruise mode. The seat belt sign is switched off and you begin to relax.

You have seven hours ahead of you. The thought of how to keep yourself occupied enters your mind. The multimedia system in front of you has the latest films and TV series, a great way to pass the time. …

5 valuable lessons from an eye-opening experience

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Photo by Elevate on Unsplash

When I moved to New Zealand for a year back in 2014, I never imagined I’d end up working for conmen. Yet, within two weeks of landing in the country, I was.

I didn’t know they were conmen when I took the job, but halfway through my first day working for them it became apparent they were.

Back in 2014, Christchurch was in the midst of a rebuild following the impact of a devastating series of earthquakes in 2011. The city had been flattened and resembled a warzone, not a modern, thriving metropolis.

Walking around the city centre, all you saw were broken buildings, a cathedral held in place by steel supports and roads that were broken and bruised. It was unlike anywhere I’d ever been before. It was also a place where work, specifically construction work, was easy to find. …

Making sense of a complicated and uncertain world

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Photo by Phil Shaw on Unsplash

Whether you like it or not, politics affects everyone. All of the freedom we possess is fragile even if it feels like it will always be there.

The past four years have seen a sea change in politics across the globe. The election of Trump and the Brexit vote in the UK have shown that unexpected changes can occur. Trump, in particular, is a sign that democracies can be subverted if we’re not careful.

Participation in a democracy requires citizens to be well-read, informed and willing to compromise with one another. In recent years, that’s not been the case. …

The linear life path is finished

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Photo: Aziz Acharki/Unsplash

When I was growing up, I had all sorts of dreams about how my life would turn out. Maybe I’d be a footballer, a lawyer, or an astronaut. At the age of five, anything seemed possible!

As the years progressed, and I became older and (hopefully) wiser, the dreams ceased. I had little idea of what I wanted to do. I wasn’t good enough to be a footballer, practising law didn’t seem too exciting, while the thought of sitting on top of thousands of gallons of rocket fuel before being launched into space didn’t fill me with ease!

I did what most of us end up doing. I hoped I’d find a nice stable job once I left school and graduated from university. If I couldn’t fulfil my dreams, at least I could assure myself I’d have a comfortable job to fall back on. …

#3 Spend On What You Enjoy, Cut Back on What You Don’t

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

When I was younger, I thought managing my money was a task so complex, I’d never master it.

Investing, choosing a savings account, opening a pension, all of them appeared to be almost impossible to fathom. So, for the majority of my early adult years, I had my bank account and one savings account.

I moved a small amount of money into my savings account and never thought about it again. Do you know what happened next? Nothing. I didn’t bother to move any more money into my savings account or consider opening an investment account. …

Even if there was, there isn’t any more

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Photo by rob walsh on Unsplash

The scenes yesterday in the American capital were something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. Protestors storming Congress at the behest of a charlatan who cannot accept that he lost an election.

Had these scenes occurred in any other country, we’d rightly label it as a ‘failed state.’ Yet, it happened in the world’s most powerful democracy.

Interrupting the democratic process because hardcore supporters objected to the result of the election is something you’d expect to see in countries that were labelled as ‘shithole countries’ by Trump. Now, Trump’s arrogance and bravado have come home to roost.

Let’s be clear about what this was. An attempt by a minority of people to overturn a legitimate democratic result. Trump has had close to two months to present legal challenges which back up his claims of electoral fraud. …

How our environment shapes our behavior.

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Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

We all think we have freedom. We instinctively crave it, but are we truly free?

Jean-Jacques Rousseau famously said that “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” This comment referred to the general population in France during the Ancien Regime, but his thoughts are still relevant today.

We are now at a point where almost every aspect of our lives is under surveillance. From the plethora of CCTV cameras in our cities to the data we send every day to the likes of Apple, Google, and Facebook, we’re under constant surveillance.

Most of us have nothing to fear from the level of surveillance in our lives. Hopefully, the majority of people in society are not planning to commit heinous crimes. Yet the rise in surveillance since the turn of the millennium does raise some important questions from a philosophical angle. …

The lessons you can learn from the lives of others

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Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

Self-help is a huge industry. Go onto Amazon, type self-help in the search bar and you’ll be bombarded with thousands of recommendations. While some of these books will be useful, the majority of them aren’t.

A more helpful category of books, which are often overlooked, is biographies. Whether it’s the autobiography of a famous figure or the thoughts of a biographer on figures from the past, you can learn more from these books than you might think.

I believe it’s easier to learn from the lives of others than it is to wade through multiple self-help books. When you read a biography, you get an intimate look into the life of that individual. …

6 stories that could define the new year

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Photo by Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash

2020 has been a year few of us saw coming. A novel virus rampaging across the planet, destroying lives and economies in its wake. This wasn’t on my list of what might happen on January 1, 2020!

Yet, here we are approaching the end of a year few of us have ever seen before. With this year drawing to a close, what happens in the new year is of the utmost importance.

From a political perspective, there are lots of stories to contend with. What will a Joe Biden administration look like? Have we seen the end of Donald Trump as a political force? …

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