In A Nutshell – The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Here are a few of my favourites to give you an idea of what to expect from this excellent book ~ Nuxgallica
An Emperor’s Guide to Mastery
from the paraphrase rendering by Sam Torode based on a translation by George Long.
Remember how long you’ve put off truly living your principles;
how many opportunities you’ve squandered.
Look at the universe of which you are a part. Realize that
you exist within its constant flux, that your days are numbered,
and that if you don’t clear the clouds from your mind now, you
may never have another chance.
Every moment, focus your attention and perform the task at
hand with simplicity, efficiency, and dignity. Fill your mind with
thoughts of love, freedom, and justice, leaving no room for negative
and destructive thoughts.
If you live every moment as if it were your last — putting
aside all carelessness, fear, anger, unreason, hypocrisy, selfishness,
and dissatisfaction — you will find salvation.
You need only hold onto these few principles and you can
live in peace and contentment, watching things come and go in
the stream of life. This is how the gods live.
Don’t waste the rest of your life worrying about what others
think and do. Direct your thoughts to a useful end. When you
dissipate your mental energy on things you can’t control, you
lose the opportunity to accomplish something yourself.
Cease all useless thoughts. Fretting about others — What is she
doing? What is she thinking? What is she planning? — keeps you from
exercising your own power.
Endeavor to live such that, if someone were suddenly to ask,
“What are you thinking about?” you could give a quick and
confident reply, saying something simple, clear, and edifying —
not something that would make you blush.
Those who dwell on useful and uplifting thoughts — uncorrupted
by pleasure, unharmed by pain, unprovoked by insult,
standing up for justice, defending what is right, accepting their
lot in life without complaint, and not prying into the minds of
others — are the true ministers of the gods, for they’re exercising
the spark of divinity within themselves.
They remember that every other person is their brother or
sister, and treat them accordingly. They mind their own business,
make sure their own actions are virtuous, and trust that
whatever life gives them is for their benefit.
Those who live this way disregard both the praise and scorn
of those who live otherwise.
Principles can’t die; they can only be forgotten.
I resolve to remember my principles, to dwell upon them,
and to fan my thoughts into a fire that will not be blown out by
the winds of circumstance.
My thoughts, opinions, and interpretations are all in my
power to choose. Why, then, am I continually entertaining
worries and fears?
I will not allow things outside my mind to affect my mind. I
will not let external events shake and shatter my inner peace. I
will not waste my energy on things outside my control.
I will return to my principles and renew my life.
Everywhere and at all times, it is in your power to accept your
present circumstances, be kind to those around you, and cultivate
true and useful thoughts.
Stick to these ruling principles. Don’t look at how others
behave and try to imitate them; look straight to where nature
and reason lead you.
Don’t be pulled off course by the desires of your body,
either. Reason was made to rule over the body — not the other
If you’re upset by something outside you, it’s not the thing itself
that upsets you, but your opinion of it. And it’s in your power
to wipe away that opinion immediately.
If your own thoughts are causing you pain, who’s keeping
you from changing them?
Or, do you feel ashamed because you aren’t doing what you
know you ought to be doing? Then do it.
Is there an obstacle blocking your way? Make it part of your
plan and turn it to your advantage.
What if it kills you? Then you’ll leave this world contentedly,
as someone who pursued a worthy goal to the end — not as
a coward who gave up and stopped trying.
When others try to hurt you, they hurt themselves. When they
cheat or steal from you, they impoverish their own character.
Leave wicked deeds where they happen. Don’t pick them up
and carry them forward in the form of resentments.
Today, I freed myself from trouble. Or rather, I wiped it out-
for my trouble was caused by my opinion of things, so I changed
the story I was telling myself.
Outside things, people, events, and circumstances are just that —
outside us. Do they carry preconceived opinions and judgments,
which they insert into our minds? No!
Our minds alone are responsible for our judgments, opinions,
and interpretations. Don’t be fooled by how things first
appear — examine everything in the light of reason.
You ask the gods to give you what you desire and deliver you
from what you fear.
I don’t know whether the gods hear and answer our prayers,
or not. Either way, why not pray for the strength to let go of
your desires and fears? Wouldn’t it be better to be content with
what you already have and to fear nothing?
Try praying this way — for an inner change, rather than an
outer one — and see what happens.
Rationality is the quality of seeing past appearances to discern
the true nature of things. We call a person rational who is
evenhanded and unprejudiced.
Equanimity means the calm acceptance of all that exists and
all that happens.
Magnanimity means greatness of spirit, unmoved by the lure
of pleasure, the lust for fame, and the fear of death.
If you strive to be rational, equanimous, and magnanimous —
not merely to be publicly called by these adjectives — you will
completely transform your life.
The person who follows reason is simultaneously active and
peaceful, cheerful and resolute.
Stop wasting energy in fear and procrastination. Your job is
to see what needs to be done and then do it. If you see the way
forward, proceed without looking back. If you are unsure which
way to go, stop and find a trustworthy guide.
If something blocks your way, make that obstacle a stepping
stone on your journey. If you fail or die, it will be in pursuit of
a worthy goal — there’s no shame in that.
Just as those who try to block your path can’t stop you from
acting according to reason, they also can’t make you hate them.
Your thoughts and feelings towards people, things, and events
are within your sphere of power, not theirs.
Remain calm in the face of those who try to hinder or harm
you, so you can think clearly and find a way forward. If you
become angry and hateful, you focus on the obstacle and lose
sight of your goal.
In order to act well in this world, you must first accept it.
Justice, generosity, and gratitude flow from a mind that embraces
all things, in harmony with our nature as rational and
Injustice, selfishness, and fear flow from a mind that complains
about and fights against things as they are, straying from
reason and society.