Last year I read the book Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and I found it very inspiring and useful in day-to-day life. I want to share with you my favourite lines from the book Marcus Aurelius Meditations.
Meditations is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from AD 161 to 180, recording his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy. Marcus Aurelius wrote the 12 books of the Meditations in Koine Greek as a source for his own guidance and self-improvement.
31 Insights from Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
- Wherever it is in agreement with nature, the ruling power within us takes a flexible approach to circumstances, always adapting to both practicality & the given event.
- No action should be undertaken without aim, or other than in conformity with a principle affirming to the art of life.
- No retreat offers someone more quiet and relaxation than that into his own mind, especially if he can dip into thoughts there which put him at immediate and complete ease; and by ease I simply mean a well ordered life.
- And here are two of the most immediately useful thoughts you will dip into. First, that the things cannot touch your mind, they are external and inert, anxieties can only come from your internal judgement. Second, that all these things you see will change almost as you look at them, and then will be no more. The universe is change: life is judgement.
- What does not make a human being worse in himself cannot make his life worse either: it Cannot harm him from outside or inside.
- (deep line) many grains of incense on the same altar, one falls to ash first, another later: no difference.
- Within 10 days you will be regarded as a god by those very people who now see you as a beast or baboon – if you return to your principles & the worship of reason.
- The removal of the unnecessary should apply not only to actions but to thoughts also: then no redundant actions either will follow.
- Be like the rocky headland on which the waves constantly break.. It stands firm, and round it the seething waters are laid to rest.
- Continue straight ahead, following your own nature and universal nature: these two have one and the same path
- Display those virtues which are wholly in your power.
- Prayers should be simple & open, or not at all.
- What happens to you is somehow arranged to conduce to your destiny, so welcome all that happens to you, even if it seems rather cruel, because it’s purpose leads to the health of the universe.
- Your mind will take on the character of your most frequent thoughts: souls are dyed by thoughts.
- The intelligence of the whole is a social intelligence.
- Don’t let the impression of other people’s grief carry you away, do not imagine their loss as any real harm – that is the wrong way of thinking. Don’t forget it’s just their toy.
- There was a time when I met luck at every turn.. But luck is the good fortune you determine for yourself: and good fortune consists in good inclinations of the soul, good impulses, good actions.
- The directing mind is that which wakes itself, adapts itself, makes itself of whatever nature it wishes, and makes all that happens to it appear in the way it wants.
- Why am I troubled? Dispersal will come on me, whatever I do. But if the latter is true, I revere it, I stand firm and I take courage in that which directs all.
- When circumstances force you to some sort of distress, quickly return to yourself. Do not stay out of rhythm for longer than you must. You will master the harmony more by constantly going back to it.
- When things have such a plausible appearance, show them naked, see their shoddiness, strip away their own boastful account of themselves. Vanity is the greatest seducer of reason. When you are most convinced that your work is important, that is when you are most under it’s spell.
- Do not imagine that, if something is hard for you to achieve it is therefore impossible for any man: but rather consider anything that is humanly possible and appropriate to lie within your own reach too.
- Death is relief from reaction of the senses, from the puppet strings of impulse, from the analytical mind and from service of the flesh.
- Keep yourself simple, good, pure, serious, unpretentious, a friend of justice, god-fearing, kind, full of affection, strong for your proper work. Strive hard to remain the same man that philosophy wished to make you. Revere the gods, look after men. Life is short. The one harvest of existence on earth is a godly habit of mind and social action.
- He who sees the present has seen all things, both all that has come to pass from everlasting and all that will be for eternity: all things are related and the same.
- You should meditate often on the connection of all things in the universe and their relationship to each other. In a way all things are interwoven and therefore have a family feeling for each other: one thing follows another in due order through the tension of movement, the common spirit inspiring them, and the unity of all being.
- Fit yourself for the matters which have fallen to your lot, and love these people among whom destiny has cast you – but your love must be genuine.
- If you determine that only what lies in our power is good or evil, there is no reason left for us either to charge God to take a hostile stance to a man.
- All that happens to the individual is to the benefit of the whole. You will also see that what benefits one person benefits other people too.
- Just as you are content with the amount of matter allocated to you, so you should be content with your allocation of time.
- No one will prevent you from living in accordance with the principle of your own nature: nothing will happen to you contrary to the principle of universal nature.
How to use these insights in everyday life?
After reading the books it occurred to me how many people would be having trouble implementing these insights. Being a Cognitive Therapist myself I thought about connecting some of the insights from this book with actionable frameworks that we both can use to implement timeless stoic wisdom. I created some videos that might interest you. If you find these videos interesting you may even opt-in for the online course on Applied Meditations of Marcus Aurelius in which I share more such tools & psychological frameworks.