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Two thousand years after he lived, Marcus Aurelius is still a go-to favorite for quotes on how to approach life, love, and death. Why is that? After all, he never intended for his thoughts to be published… yet here we are.
More than 2000 years later, the words of Marcus Aurelius still resonate so deeply with many of us, as he provides answers to some of life's biggest questions. If you want to know what really matters in life, you will likely find some useful advice in his words.
What You Will Learn
Who Was Marcus Aurelius and Why Do We Quote Him?
Aurelius was a Roman statesman and stoic philosopher who lived from 121 to 180 AD. He was born in Rome to a wealthy family, educated in Greek, Latin, and classical literature. Marcus was groomed for leadership by his uncle, Titus Aurelius Antoninus, who adopted him as a son.
Best known as the Roman Emperor from 161 – 180, he is credited for being a wise, reasonable ruler, a deep thinker, and a victor over enemies that tried to invade the empire. Under his leadership, Parthian, Armenian, and Germanic tribes were defeated.
He wrote Meditations, a book of wise sayings grounded in Stoic philosophy. Stoicism is a way of thinking based on the need to be wise, virtuous, devoted to reason and not controlled by emotion. The intelligence, depth, and humor in Marcus Aurelius' quotes have kept them popular over the centuries.
But don’t just take my word for it… read for yourself!
Quotes on Life
- To live happily is an inward power of the soul.
- Confine yourself to the present.
- He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs, or a bee makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season without thinking of the grapes it has borne.
- 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.
- Poverty is the mother of crime.
- Anger cannot be dishonest.
- Natural ability without education has more often raised a man to glory and virtue than education without natural ability.
- To understand the true quality of people, you must look into their minds, and examine their pursuits and aversions.
- Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish.
- How much time he saves who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks.
- Let not your mind run on what you lack as much as on what you have already.
- Each day provides its own gifts.
- Begin – to begin is half the work, let half still remain; again begin this, and thou wilt have finished.
- Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.
- The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing.
- Here is the rule to remember in the future, when anything tempts you to be bitter: not, ‘This is a misfortune, but ‘To bear this worthily is good fortune.'
- That which is not good for the beehive cannot be good for the bees.
- 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.
- He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.
- How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.
- You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.
- The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.
- Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears. The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.
- 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.
- Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
- Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.
- In reading and writing, you cannot lay down rules until you have learned to obey them. Much more so in life.
- Stick to what's in front of you – idea, action, utterance.
- You don't have to turn this into something. It doesn't have to upset you. Things can't shape our decisions by themselves.
- Consider frequently the connection of all things in the universe and their relation to one another. For things are somehow implicated with one another, and all in a way friendly to one another.
- Whatever anyone does or says, I must be emerald and keep my color.
- 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.
Marcus Aurelius Quotes on Love
- 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.
- Love the little trade which thou hast learned and be content therewith.
- When we consider we are bound to be serviceable to mankind, and bear with their faults, we shall perceive there is a common tie of nature and relation between us.
- Leave other people's mistakes where they lie.
- Let your one delight and refreshment be to pass from one service to the community to another, with God ever in mind.
- To love only what happens, what was destined. No greater harmony.
Marcus Aurelius Quotes on Death
- Be content with what you are and wish not change; nor dread your last day, nor long for it.
- Death, like birth, is a secret of Nature. Death is a release from the impressions of the senses, and from desires that make us their puppets, and from the vagaries of the mind, and from the hard service of the flesh.
- The act of dying is one of the acts of life.
- How many together with whom I came into the world are already gone out of it.
- The only wealth which you will keep forever is the wealth you have given away.
- Glory arrives too late when it comes only to one's ashes.
- Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature's delight.
- All things are in the act of change; thou thyself in ceaseless transformation and partial decay, and the whole universe with thee.
- “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.
- Do every act of your life as if it were your last.
- It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.
Final Thoughts on Marcus Aurelius Quotes
After reading this, I’m certain most of you can find at least a few quotes to relate to. Quotes we recognize and admire… quotes that speak to who and where we are at this moment in time.
Personally speaking, researching and reading over these quotes has inspired me change some things, not only with regards to my behavior, but in how I think as well. (Learn more about the stoic virtues here.)
If any of these Marcus Aurelius quotes have inspired you to up your game when it comes to making the most of your days, you should definitely check out this article on building new habits that stick!
Finally, if you want to use these quotes to make a lasting change to your life, then watch this free video that details the 7-minute habit for planning your day to focus on what's truly important to you..