Roman Emperor, known for Stoic tome Meditations
Marcus Aurelius, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus
Roman Emperor, known for Stoic tome Meditations
You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you.
When you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, remember that your defining characteristic— what defines a human being — is to work with others. Even animals know how to sleep. And it’s the characteristic activity that’s the more natural one — more innate and more satisfying.
So you were born to feel nice? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?
At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?
Everything is banal in experience, fleeting in duration, sordid in content; in all respects the same today as generations now dead and buried have found it to be.
Everything is only for a day, both that which remembers and that which is remembered. Observe constantly that all things take place by change, and accustom thyself to consider that the nature of the universe loves nothing so much as to change things which are and to make new things like them. For everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be.
All things fade and quickly turn to myth.
Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, sea-shores, and mountains; and thou too art wont to desire such things very much. But this is altogether a mark of the most common sort of men, for it is in thy power whenever thou shalt choose to retire into thyself. For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retire than into his own soul, particularly when he has within him such thoughts that by looking into them he is immediately in perfect tranquility; and I affirm that tranquility is nothing else than the good ordering of the mind. Constantly then give to thyself this retreat, and renew thyself; and let thy principles be brief and fundamental, which, as soon as thou shalt recur to them, will be sufficient to cleanse the soul completely, and to send thee back free from all discontent with the things to which thou returnest.
A man should always have these two rules in readiness. First, to do only what the reason of your ruling and legislating faculties suggest for the service of man. Second, to change your opinion whenever anyone at hand sets you right and unsettles you in an opinion, but this change of opinion should come only because you are persuaded that something is just or to the public advantage, not because it appears pleasant or increases your reputation.
The happiness and unhappiness of the rational, social animal depends not on what he feels but on what he does; just as his virtue and vice consist not in feeling but in doing.
What we do now echoes in eternity.
So you know how things stand. Now forget what they think of you. Be satisfied if you can live the rest of your life, however short, as your nature demands. Focus on that, and don't let anything distract you. You've wandered all over and finally realized that you never found what you were after: how to live. Not in syllogisms, not in money, or fame, or self-indulgence. Nowhere.
Asia and Europe: tiny corners of the Cosmos. Every sea: a mere drop. Mount Athos: a lump of dirt. The present moment is the smallest point in all eternity. All is microscopic, changeable, disappearing. All things come from that faraway place, either originating directly from that governing part which is common to all, or else following from it as consequences. So even the gaping jaws of the lion, deadly poison, and all harmful things like thorns or an oozing bog are products of that awesome and noble source. Do not imagine these things to be alien to that which you revere, but turn your Reason to the source of all things.
Do not waste what remains of your life in speculating about your neighbors, unless with a view to some mutual benefit. To wonder what so-and-so is doing and why, or what he is saying, or thinking, or scheming -- in a word, anything that distracts you from fidelity to the ruler within you -- means a loss of opportunity for some other task.
Life is opinion.
Dig within. Within is the wellspring of Good; and it is always ready to bubble up, if you just dig.
Pass then through this little space of time conformably to nature, and end thy journey in content, just as an olive falls off when it is ripe, blessing nature who produced it, and thanking the tree on which it grew.
No one loses any other life than the one he now lives, nor does one live any other life than that which he will lose.
A noble man compares and estimates himself by an idea which is higher than himself; and a mean man, by one lower than himself. The one produces aspiration; the other ambition, which is the way in which a vulgar man aspires.
Whoever does wrong, wrongs himself; whoever does injustice, does it to himself, making himself evil.
Observe always that everything is the result of change, and get used to thinking that there is nothing Nature loves so well as to change existing forms and make new ones like them.