Top 10 Best Quotes from Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius is best known as a Roman emperor who is considered the last ruler of the "Five Good Emperors", as well as being the last ruler in the Pax Romana period. Ruling over the Roman Empire from 161-180, he was otherwise best known for his stoic approaches in life, as well being a stoic philosopher. Being one of the most famous stoics, many of his quotes are still applied in modern real life situations. One of his famous works include "Meditations", most of which consists of his personal quotes regarding on self-improvement.

Stoicism is a school of philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Ancient Greece which emphasizes on practicing virtue and living an ethical life in order to maintain happiness and resilience. These virtues include wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance. One of the goals of the stoics is to live accordingly with nature and to focus on things that are within their control.

This list presents 10 quotes from Marcus Aurelius that can potentially change your outlook in life.
The Top Ten
1 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.

Most of us worry about what circumstances are going to accompany with the future? To make it worse, we often are pessimistic and expect the worst circumstances. Anxiety and fear are often associated with fear of the future. This is just your mind exaggerating about the outcomes. The truth is we don't know how future events may play out. If you realize the event you are worrying is out of control, then it is the right time to do things accordingly in which you can control, and acknowledge and learn from any misfortunes if something wrong happens. Remember the times when you have succeeded yet you first thought you were going to fail at something? So why should the future hinder you?

2 The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.

You have more control over your mind than you think. Yes, things do happen, but it's up to you to react to the situation whether if it's in your control or not. If you have pessimistic ways of thinking or thoughts of ill will, you have the motivation to stop these thought patterns right now. The more you align yourself with those thoughts, the more you are accustomed to sticking to those patterns. Think about it: your brain is like plastic - plastic is easily flexible and so does your brain as it is able to adapt with the environment. Even when it takes effort, identify the source of what makes you feel that way, acknowledge those thoughts, question why you feel that way, then try replacing those with balanced thoughts, then later more positive thoughts. This would slowly accustom you to having a more balanced perspective.

3 You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.

Some of us would attempt to control events in order to align with their expectations. In some cases we don't have the power at all to change events, especially those that are out of our control, but you have control to change your pattern of thinking, how you react to things, and how we make decisions. This doesn't mean we can always avoid subjecting to impulsivity, but being aware of what you are capable with and harnessing the best of it is what the quote is trying to say.

4 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?

When we criticize someone, we may not realize it but you may be projecting your own similar flaws onto them. Whenever we see someone that's the opposite of you, we tend to react to them negatively, but never consider to examine ourselves before criticizing someone for their flaws. You have to keep your house clean or else no one will be convinced of your thoughts as you may be seen as a hypocrite.

This is definitely true. Although I think it's important how you were intending to criticize someone if you were intending to tell them what a pathetic excuse for a human being they are then you had better think long and hard about whether they really deserve it.

However if intended to criticize someone politely and constructively then you probably don't have to worry as much.

5 Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking.

It's human nature to make simple things complicated. In fact, you only need food, water, and a roof on your head in order to live a satisfying life. It's those materialistic possessions that makes us want more and more. There are some poor people who struggle to obtain those basic needs, but still remain themselves content. Happiness is gained when you found meaning of life, and being grateful of whatever you have.

6 How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.

Anger is a pretty tricky emotion to deal with, as anger can shut off one person's clear way of thinking. It's easier than said to be aware of the causes that evoke anger. Although this is a fancy saying of encouraging people to "breathe", think about the times when you're angry, then think about what could've been better to deal with that emotion, or how to avoid the situation that made you feel that way, and how would you "let it out" in more appropriate situations.

7 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."

This can be applied in the context of both failure and hardship. Whenever you worked hard on something to expect something that makes you feel bitter (e.g failure), don't see this as an hopeless disadvantage. Rather, take this as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes. Going through hardship can leave you some valuable lessons in the future, hence the words "good fortune" in the end of the quote.

8 Many lumps of incense on the same altar. One crumbles now, one later, but it makes no difference.

A more oblique saying but still holds a very strong message. This quote is saying that we are all going to end up in the same destination: death. The word "incense" can be interpreted as life. No matter how soon or later we die it does not make a difference. This is not limited to us, but everything as well.

9 Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.

Whenever hardship or failure happens, it is your own will to choose how to react to it accordingly. If you react to it in a negative way, then it can seem like a step backward. But choosing to react to it realistically - such as acknowledging and learning through the problem can lead to a closer step of success. There are difficult situations that we can't accept, but we can always consider there's a valuable lesson behind them.

10 Dwell on the beauty of life

Full quote: Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.

Not exactly a stoic quote, but it really encourages us to appreciate what earth has given to us.

The Contenders
11 Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness.

Continued: – all of them due to the offenders' ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading. Neither can I be angry with my brother or fall foul of him; for he and I were born to work together, like a man's two hands, feet or eyelids, or the upper and lower rows of his teeth. To obstruct each other is against Nature's law – and what is irritation or aversion but a form of obstruction.
It's always expected that you will meet close-minded people who wound potentially insult you. This doesn't mean you are the only one who is experiencing this, and that's okay. But by no means do not let their words eat you, as they ...more

12 The best revenge is not to be like your enemy
13 It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live
14 Our life is what our thoughts make it
15 If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it
16 Humans have come into being for the sake of each other, so either teach them, or learn to bear them
17 Confine yourself to the present
18 A man must stand erect, not be kept erect by others
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