Wisdom of Life

Marcus Aurelius: On the Wisdom of Man, Character and Life

“Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look.”

“Life is neither good or evil, but only a place for good and evil.”

“A person’s worth is measured by the worth of what he values.”

Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them. When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love

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 have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way. The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts. Our life is what our thoughts make it.

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. The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking. The happiness of those who want to be popular depends on others; the happiness of those who seek pleasure fluctuates with moods outside their control; but the happiness of the wise grows out of their own free acts.

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy. The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.

Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present. Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future too. Here is a rule to remember in future, when anything tempts you to feel bitter: not “This is misfortune,” but “To bear this worthily is good fortune.

Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, without apathy, without pretence. Casting aside other things, hold to the precious few; and besides bear in mind that every man lives only the present, which is an indivisible point, and that all the rest of his life is either past or is uncertain. Brief is man’s life and small the nook of the earth where he lives; brief, too, is the longest posthumous fame, buoyed only by a succession of poor human beings who will very soon die and who know little of themselves, much less of someone who died long ago.

Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. 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. You always own the option of having no opinion. There is never any need to get worked up or to trouble your soul about things you can’t control. These things are not asking to be judged by you. Leave them alone.

The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury. If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it. Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?

Live a good life. Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter. Cold or warm. Tired or well-rested. Despised or honored. Dying… or busy with other assignments. Because dying, too, is one of our assignments in life.

Do not act as if you were going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over you. Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun. If you do not, the sun will soon set, and you with it. While you live, while it is in your power, be good. Do every act of your life as though it were the very last act of your life. It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.

“Dig within. Within is the wellspring of Good; and it is always ready to bubble up, if you just dig.”

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

“And remember… that very little is needed to make a happy life.

***

~Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was a Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher. He was the last of the rulers known as the Five Good Emperors, and the last emperor of the Pax Romana, an age of relative peace and stability for the Roman Empire.

Excerpts from Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

©Excellence Reporter 2021

Categories: Wisdom of Life

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