20 Timeless Teachings from Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius
For me, studying philosophy is like reading an instruction manual for life that was written by some of the greatest minds to ever grace the human race. It was Epictetus who once said, “Philosophy does not promise to secure anything external for man, otherwise it would be admitting something that lies beyond its proper subject-matter. For as the material of the carpenter is wood, and that of statuary bronze, so the subject-matter of the art of living is each person’s own life.”
One of my absolute favorite schools of philosophy is that of Stoicism. The modern definition of “stoic” is: a person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining. This definition comes from the Stoic philosophy’s belief that moral and intellectual virtue was the key to happiness, no matter your circumstances. Stoicism was not just an idea, it was a way of life that put an emphasis on what you did, and not what you said.

One of the most famous and influential Stoic philosophers was Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Between the years of 170 and 180 AD, while on a campaign in Europe, Aurelius wrote Meditations. To this day, Meditations is considered to be a “literary monument to a philosophy of service and duty, describing how to find and preserve equanimity in the midst of conflict by following nature as a source of guidance and inspiration.”

Here are 20 of the most inspiring, uplifting, and powerful quotes from Meditations:

“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love …”
“The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.”
“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.”
“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”
“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.”
“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.”
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking.”
“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.”
“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.”
“I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.”
“Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”
“The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.”

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