Stoicism and the Art of Living

These are the best Marcus Aurelius’ quotes. And sayings that can help you overcome an obstacle that comes up in your life. Whether you are going through a loss in your life. Or find yourself drifting apart from you friends, or family.

Marcus Aurelius was a philosopher who once said, “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.

Marcus Aurelius understood the importance of being original and thinking for oneself instead of following the lead of the masses.

He was a larger than life figure. And his thoughts, and actions are still an inspiration today.

 Brand Blanshard put it perfectly. “Few care now about the marches and counter marches of the Roman commanders. What the centuries have clung to is a notebook of thoughts by a man whose real life was largely unknown who put down in the midnight dimness of not the events of the day or the plans of the morrow, but something of far more permanent interest, the ideals and aspirations that a rare spirit lived by.”

Why I Love Marcus Aurelius

If I could have dinner with one figure, it would be Marcus Aurelius.

We see Marcus today as the shining example of Stoicism.

Marcus Aurelius, who ruled the Roman Empire from 161 to 180 CE, was the last of the five good emperors.

It is often said that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Well, Marcus Aurelius is the exception that proves the rule.

The first thing he did after becoming emperor was to give away half his power to his stepbrother.

Fun fact about me! Marcus Aurelius is my great, great, great… etc grandfather. He had a few kids, so there are probably millions of relatives. And this brag is not very stoic of me.

Marcus Aurelius History

Marcus Aurelius was born in Rome on April 26, 121 A.D. to a prominent Roman senator. He was raised in a luxurious home and received a comprehensive education, excelling in literature and philosophy. His father died young, and his education continued with his grandfather. 

He succeeded his adoptive father, Emperor Antoninus Pius, upon his death. As emperor, Marcus Aurelius was known for his philosophical writings, which were compiled into a book titled “Meditations.”

 He was also an effective administrator, strengthening the empire’s economy and military. However, he faced several challenges during his reign including, a war with their rival, the Parthian Empire, a plague that killed thousands of people, and a series of wars with Germanic tribes. 

But he was also the ruler of Rome, during the Pax Romana, a time of peace, and great economic growth throughout the Roman empire. Despite ruling during a war, and seeing the empire through a terrible plague. 

He faced more challenges in life. That can help put these quotes in perspective. Nine of his children died young. It might be why one of his nightly habits, when kissing his kids before going to sleep, he would whisper to himself, “Don’t rush this. This might be the last time you do this. It’s not guaranteed that either of you will make it through the night.”

And this is one part of ancient stoic philosophy that many people have trouble with, even today. The thought that death might visit thee. And we have no control over it. 

Stoics embraced the thought of death. They, and I included, thought that reminding ourselves that we are going to die was a way to remind ourselves to live now. 

Marcus Aurelius Meditations 

Meditations are perhaps the only document of its kind ever made. It is the private thoughts of the world’s most powerful man giving advice to himself on how to make good on the responsibilities and obligations of his positions. Trained in Stoic philosophy, Marcus stopped almost every night to practice a series of spiritual exercises—reminders designed to make him humble, patient, empathetic, generous, and strong in the face of whatever he was dealing with.

Section: To this day, thousands of people turn to these teachings for inspiration and guidance. There are quotes from Meditations on everything from war to family to peace of mind. You can see them everywhere from your Twitter feed to ancient temples. And when you look closely at what he says again and again—and how he says it—you realize that there’s something else going on here. It’s as if Marcus were talking directly to you, as if he wanted to change your life.

 Best Marcus Aurelius’ Quotes for Stoics

Stoic Quotes by Marcus Aurelius’

A rock is thrown in the air. It loses nothing by coming down, gained nothing by going up.

You’re subject to sorrow, fear, jealousy, anger, and inconsistency. That’s the real reason you should admit that you are not wise.

Do not be perturbed, for all things are according to the nature of the universal; and in a little time, you will be nobody and nowhere.

Let not your mind run on what you lack as much as on what you have already.

A man, when he has done a good act, does not call out for others to come and see, but he goes on to another act, as a vine goes on to produce again the grapes season.

As the same fire assumes different shapes when it consumes objects differing in shape, so does the one self take the shape of every creature in whom he is present.

It is not events that disturb people; it is their judgments concerning them. 

“Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.”

The first step: Don’t be anxious. Nature controls it all.

The second step: Concentrate on what you have to do. Fix your eyes on it. Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being; remind yourself what nature demands of people. Then do it, without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy.

“The universe is transformation; our life is what our thoughts make it.”

“Anything in any way beautiful derives its beauty from itself and asks nothing beyond itself. Praise is no part of it, for nothing is made worse or better by praise.”

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.

Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish.

Today I escaped all circumstances, or rather I cast out all circumstances, for it was not outside me, but within my judgments

All disturbances arise solely from the opinions within us. All disturbances arise solely from the opinions within us.

We are too much accustomed to attribute to a single cause that which is the product of several, and the majority of our controversies come from that.

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thought.

It’s silly to try to escape other peoples faults. They are inescapable. Just try to escape your own.

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?

Top 10 Marcus Aurelius Quotes

It is hard to choose the best Marcus Aurelius quotes. But here are some of the best. 

You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. Today I escaped anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my perceptions – not outside. – Perhaps my favorite Marcus Aurelius quote.

It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” -Marcus Aurelius

Objective judgment, now, at this very moment. Unselfish action, now, at this very moment. Willing acceptance, now, at this very moment – of all external events. That’s all you need.

Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now, take what’s left, and live it properly.

“Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature’s delight.”

If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs you, but your judgment about it. And it is in your power to wipe out this judgment now.

If someone can 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.

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?

To live the good life: We have the potential for it. If we can learn to be indifferent to what makes no difference.

But the man motivated by desire, who is mastered by pleasure, seems somehow more self- indulgent, less manly in his sins.

Marcus Aurelius Quotes Death

It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.

What we do now echoes in eternity.

Consider that before long you will be nobody and nowhere, nor will any of the things exist that you now see, nor any of those who are now living. For all things are formed by nature to change and be turned and to perish in order that other things in continuous succession may exist.

Stop whatever you’re doing for a moment and ask yourself: ‘Am I afraid of death because I won’t be able to do this anymore?’

“Do not act as if you had ten thousand years to throw away. Death stands at your elbow. Be good for something while you live and it is in your power.”

“The act of dying is one of the acts of life.”

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.

The memory of everything is very soon overwhelmed in time. But death and life, honor and dishonor, pain and pleasure – all these things equally happen to good men and bad, being things which make us neither better nor worse. Therefore, they are neither good nor evil.

Let each thing you would do, say, or intend, be like that of a dying person.

Remember: Matter. How tiny your share of it. Time. How brief and fleeting your allotment of it. Fate. How small a role you play in it.

About death: Whether it is a dispersion, or a resolution into atoms, or annihilation, it is either extinction or change.

On the fear of death: A man who fears death either fears the wrong thing or is doing something wrong. 

How soon will time cover all things, and how many it has covered already? Marcus Aurelius.

Be not deceived; for thou shalt never live to read thy moral commentaries, nor the acts of the famous Romans and Grecians; nor those excerpta from several books; all which thou hadst provided and laid up for thyself against thine old age. Hasten therefore to an end, and giving over all vain hopes, help thyself in time if thou carest for thyself, as thou oughtest to do.

When jarred, unavoidably, by adversity revert at once to yourself and don’t lose the rhythm more than you can help

Marcus Aurelius Quotes on Life

Do every act of your life as if it were your last.

Treat whatever happens as wholly natural; not novel or hard to deal with; but familiar and easily handled.

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.

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

Don’t be overheard complaining… Not even to yourself.

The rational animal is consequently also a social animal.

Life is short – the fruit of this life is a good character and acts for the common good.

Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. – This is a great quote for positive thinking. 

We live only now. Everything else is either passed or is unknown.

To live a good life: We have the potential for it. If we can learn to be indifferent to what makes no difference. 

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.

To live happily is an inward power of the soul.

The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.

How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything which happens in life.

The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.

Live out your life in truth and justice, tolerant of those who are neither true nor just.

The more we value things outside our control, the less control we have. Marcus Aurelius.

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.

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.

He who follows reason in all things is both tranquil and active at the same time, and also cheerful and collected.

“Where a man can live, he can also live well.”

Let men see, let them know a real man who lives as he was meant to live.

Life is short. That’s all there is to say. Get what you can from the present – thoughtfully, justly.

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

Marcus Aurelius Quotes on Work

In a word, if there is a god, all is well; and if chance rules, do not also be governed by it.

True good fortune is what you make for yourself. Good fortune: good character, good intentions, good actions.

Glory’s an empty, changeable thing, as fickle as the weather.

Poverty is the mother of crime.

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

Receive wealth or prosperity without arrogance; and be ready to let it go. 

You can commit injustice by doing nothing.

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.

When they’re really possessed by what they do, they’d rather stop eating and sleeping than give up practicing their arts

Be content with what you are, and wish not change; nor dread your last day, nor long for it.

True good fortune is what you make for yourself. Good fortune: good character, good intentions, good actions.

You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you.

For God’s sake, stop honoring externals, quit turning yourself into the tool of mere matter, or of people who can supply you or deny you those material things.

“Begin. To begin is half the work, let half still remain; again begin this, and thou wilt have finished.”

Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too

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?

Your three components: body, breath, mind. Two are yours in trust; to the third alone you have clear title.

Marcus Aurelius Quotes Love

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 opinions of himself than on the opinions of others.

Confine yourself to the present.

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.

To love only what happens, what was destined. No greater harmony. 

Adapt yourself to the things among which your lot has been cast and love sincerely the fellow creatures with whom destiny has ordained that you shall live.

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

Marcus Aurelius Quotes Purpose

So I look for the best and am prepared for the opposite.

Is any man afraid of change? What can take place without change? What then is more pleasing or more suitable to the universal nature? And can you take a hot bath unless the wood for the fire undergoes a change? And can you be nourished unless the food undergoes a change? And can anything else that is useful be accomplished without change? Do you not see then that for yourself also to change is just the same, and equally necessary for the universal nature?

When someone is properly grounded in life, they shouldn’t have to look outside themselves for approval. Marcus Aurelius.

Nothing happens to anyone that he can’t endure.

Nothing natural is evil. Marcus Aurelius.

Nothing happens to any man that he is not formed by nature to bear.

That which is not good for the bee-hive cannot be good for the bees.

Remember: Matter. How tiny your share of it. Time. How brief and fleeting is your allotment of it. Fate. How small a role you play in it. Marcus Aurelius.

Everything that happens, happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so.

No man can escape his destiny, the next inquiry being how he may best live the time that he has to live.

When someone is properly grounded in life, they shouldn’t have to look outside themselves for approval. Marcus Aurelius.

Ambition means tying your well-being to what other people say or do. Self-indulgence means tying it to the things that happen to you

Marcus Aurelius Quotes on Leadership

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

Whatever happens to you has been waiting to happen since the beginning of time.

Straight, not straightened.

Receive without pride, let go without attachment. When you have assumed these names – good, modest, truthful, rational, a man of equanimity, and magnanimous – take care that you do not change these names; and if you should lose them, quickly return to them.

What illusion about myself do I entertain?

A man should be upright, not be kept upright.

If it’s not right, don’t do it. If it’s not true, don’t say it.

“The best revenge is to be unlike him, who performed the injury. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.

Marcus Aurelius

Each of us needs what nature gives us, when nature gives it. Marcus Aurelius.

Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears. Marcus Aurelius.

A man’s worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions.

Good Morning Quotes

When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural.

Snow endures, but for a season, and joy comes with the morning.

‎”Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busy-body, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial

In the morning, when thou risest unwillingly, let this thought be present – I am rising to the work of a human being. Why then am I dissatisfied if I am going to do the things for which I exist and for which I was brought into the world?

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive-to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love

Powerful Marcus Aurelius Quotes

marcus aurelius' quotes

Compassion. Unwavering adherence to decisions once he’d reached them. Indifference to superficial honors. Hard work. Persistence.

Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter.

The present is all that they can give up, since that is all you have, and what you do not have, you cannot lose.

Yes, keep on degrading yourself, soul. But soon your chance at dignity will be gone. Everyone gets one life. Yours is almost used up, and instead of treating yourself with respect, you have entrusted your own happiness to the souls of others.

Do external things distract you? Then make time for yourself to learn something worthwhile; stop letting yourself be pulled in all directions.

For there is one universe made up of all things, and Gods who pervades all things, and one substance, and one law, one common reason in all intelligent animals, and one truth

Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.

These are some of the best quotes by Marcus Aurelius’. My favorite stoic philosopher, but there are also some great stoic quotes by Epictetus. And in my opinion, one wisest historical figure. There are several possible lives we can live. All the paths we can take. But these Marcus Aurelius’ Quotes can keep you on the right path. 

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