Marcus Aurelius Nighttime Routine: (What is it & can you do it?)

In this brief guide, we will discuss the Marcus Aurelius Nighttime Routine, and some reviews by people who have tried the Marcus Aurelius Nighttime Routine.

Marcus Aurelius Nighttime Routine

The Marcus Aurelius Nighttime Routine was a part of the Roman Emperor’s life for many years, and it consists of three main parts: Contemplation of the Sage, A view from Above, Physical Exercise, Meditation, Review of the day and Journaling.

Marcus Aurelius nighttime routine first and foremost consisted of the contemplation of the sage, which includes considering how one makes decisions, and this phase often makes use of the question, “What would so-and-so person do?”, and Marcus Aurelius asked himself, “What would Zeno do?”.

Zeno was the Greek philosopher who came up with the concept of Stoicism and Marcus Aurelius based a lot of his meditations and decision-making processes in his idea of what this Greek philosopher would do.

Some modern stoics also suggest that one might consider what their best traits are, or what their ideal version would look like, and then make decisions based on what their ideal version might do.

The benefit of this stage is that it allows you to detach from emotions that may get in the way of making good decisions, and you are able to make decisions in a way that makes you feel good about them, and more in control, because you know that they were made from the perspective of someone or something you respect and admire.

This manner of decision-making ensures that you have more faith in your decisions as well, which then improves how you view the outcomes of your decisions.

In the next stage of Marcus Aurelius’ nighttime routine, one takes A view of the Day, which involves taking a look at oneself from a distance, starting close to oneself and moving back further and further to encompass all the surrounding factors and situations, and taking into account all the other people in one’s circle.

This stage of Marcus Aurelius’s nighttime routine is meant to help the person widen their perspective, to take into account the viewpoint and lives of others sound them, and just as the contemplation stage focuses on getting the person from their real self to their ideal self, this stage allows them to consider their environment as well.

The third stage of Marcus Aurelius’ nighttime routine is physical exercise, but technically this is not done at night, or before bed, and it may be done anytime in the evening.

One can also do the entire routine in the evening, instead of doing it before bed or just as someone is retiring for the night.

The fourth stage of Marcus Aurelius’ nighttime routine is that of Meditation which simply involves looking at the self, taking some time off from thinking and planning, and just focusing on being.

This stage of the nighttime routine needs to be about existing, and the person is required to not make any movements towards changing their thoughts or even their physical condition, which is meant to elicit control in the person.

The idea behind this type of meditation is that it is meant to teach the person to exert better control over their actions even in their daily life outside of meditations, because if they are able to harness and develop their sense of control, they can manage it outside of that situation as well.

The last stage of Marcus Aurelius’ Nighttime Routine is Review of the Day which is essentially going over the happenings of the day in as much of a chronological order as possible, and to go through things that happened to you, things you propagated with your actions, thoughts you had or emotions you experienced.

The idea behind a comprehensive review of the day is to identify what went right and what went wrong, and congratulate yourself for things that went well, so that the likelihood of those things happening again increases.

The person is also able to identify what didn’t go well, and this allows the person to remember the problems, so that they don’t write it off or rationalize it, or simply just forget it.

By doing a review of the day the individual ensures that the things that happened are processed in their conscious mind and have actively become a memory, instead of letting it become repressed and go out of the conscious awareness.

What does Marcus Aurelius’ Nighttime Routine do?

The main purpose of Marcus Aurelius’s nighttime routine and stoicism as a whole is to make decisions more easily and purposefully, live a balanced and tranquil life, and be in control of one’s destiny, accepting things as they come and not being blindsided or staggered by things that life throws your way.

In stoicism, the chief point is that the individual must accept thoughts as they are, and all virtues of the person must result from their acceptance of the present as well as ignorance of the fear of pain and expectations of reward.

True stoics believed that review of the day was important so that the person was in touch with everything that happened to them as well as everything that they did, because total awareness is a key part of stoicism.

Marcus Aurelius nighttime routine is based on ideas and principles that may be seen in the following quotes:

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

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

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

“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.”

Aristotle’s ethics and Stoicism are two main theories of Virtue Ethics that came out of the ancient Greek and Roman cultures, and these aim at finding ways of virtuous living in a more humanistic sense and less spiritual sense.

Who was Marcus Aurelius?

Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Emperor, and he ruled during the phase of the five good emperors; a title given to a dynasty that consisted of some of the best emperors that Rome saw.

The Five Good Emperors title was given by Machiavelli many years after the dynasty has gone out, and he said the following about the emperors who were part of it:

“Titus, Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus, and Marcus had no need of praetorian cohorts, or of countless legions to guard them, but were defended by their own good lives, the good-will of their subjects, and the attachment of the senate.”

Marcus Aurelius was born during the reign of Hadrian to the emperor’s nephew, the praetor Marcus Annius Verus, and the heiress Domitia Calvilla and because his father died when he was five, Marcus was raised by his mother and grandfather. 

The Emperor Hadrian adopted Marcus’ uncle Antoninus Pius as his new heir after his son died, and Antoninus adopted Marcus and Lucius, and after Hadrian died that year, Marcus’s uncle and adoptive father, Antoninus, became emperor. 

Marcus Aurelius became next in line to the throne, and he studied Greek and Latin under tutors such as Herodes Atticus and Marcus Cornelius Fronto and he also kept in close correspondence with Fronto for many years afterwards. 

Marcus Aurelius finally acceded to the throne alongside his adoptive brother, who took the name Lucius Verus in the year 161, and he served till his death in 180, when he was 58 years old.

“I tried the Marcus Aurelius Nighttime Routine”: A Review

Here is the experience of someone who has tried the Marcus Aurelius nighttime routine:

“In the mornings as I’m headed to work or whatever I’m doing first I like to mentally prepare myself for the day ahead, just thinking over principles and ideas. Sometimes I’ll ask myself the question “what kind of creature am I?” and briefly work through my principles from what follows, other times I’ll remind myself that “I don’t just want to go to work today, I want to go to work AND keep my actions in accordance with virtue” (borrowing from Epictetus here, his example is a trip to the public baths).

At the end of the day, I do the nightly review as soon as the lights are all turned off and my head is on my pillow. If I recognize something specific I need to work on, that becomes my theme for the following day – for instance today I focused on appreciating that whatever people do, they are acting in a way that they believe will somehow benefit them, and if they are mistaken they deserve our pity, not anger.”

Another great review of the Marcus Aurelius Nighttime Routine may be found here, and this person lists out all the ways they have found the routine helping them.


In this brief guide, we discussed the Marcus Aurelius Nighttime Routine, and some reviews by people who have tried the Marcus Aurelius Nighttime Routine.

Marcus Aurelius’ Nighttime routine has garnered a lot of attention in recent times as people have turned more and more towards history to make their lives better and learn from distinguished leaders and guides.

Marcus Aurelius was a great personality who has contributed significantly to the field of meditation and self psychology, in a way, by propagating his healthy manner of living and his routines of life that made him who he was.

If you are interested in trying out Marcus Aurelius’ nighttime routine and have questions, or if you have tried it, feel free to reach out to us and tell us how it worked for you or whatever questions you have about it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Marcus Aurelius Nighttime Routine

What was Marcus Aurelius nighttime routine?

Marcus Aurelius’ Nighttime Routine included contemplation, a view from above, physical activity, meditation and review of the day. He also did journaling in his nighttime routine, much like he did in the morning routine.

What was Marcus Aurelius morning routine?

Marcus Aurelius’s morning routine consisted of journaling and preparing for the day, and he wrote about it, “At dawn, when you awake, know that you are getting up to do the work of a human being.” He did his journaling early in the day and his days always began early.

Is Marcus Aurelius a stoic?

Yes, Marcus Aurelius was also a Stoic philosopher and this is evident in his Meditations as well as his contemplation question, which was “What would Zeno do?”.

Marcus Aurelius was keen on living a Stoic life, according to which only virtue is good, only vice is bad, and any decisions that the person makes must not be based on the fear of pain or the expectation of reward, but the simple reason that they must be made.

What did Marcus Aurelius die of?

It is not known exactly what Marcus Aurelius died of, but he died on March 17th, 180 AD.


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