Top 5 Marcus Aurelius Quotes to Inspire Self Mastery

Stoic philosophy traces its roots to ancient Greece. Concerned with living a good life, many of its practical prescriptions are just as profound and necessary today.

I just finished ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius. It’s counted as one of the main ancient stoic texts, alongside Seneca’s ‘On the Shortness of Life’ and ‘Enchiridion’ by Epictetus.
In previous posts, I described Stoicism as a philosophy of self responsibility. Here are my favorite quotes from this most recent reading:

5) “Guard also against another kind of error: the folly of those who weary their days in much business, but lack any aim on which their whole effort, nay, their whole thought is focused.”

If Meditations has a theme, it’s the wise allocation of focus and mental energy.

In this quote, Aurelius warns against a common problem that many face today. Even among those who do take up self-development, without a clear vision and determination, their efforts are often scattered in various directions and they’re unable to capture the maximum reward.

4) “Do not copy the opinions of the arrogant, or let them dictate your own, but look at things in their true light.”

On one hand, this sounds obvious. Yet how often are people trusted based on confidence and swagger alone. Instead of be swayed of “influencers” and personalities, examine things for yourself to discover the truth. Be willing to entertain ideas without accepting them.

3) “Think not, ‘this is a misfortune,’ but ‘to bear this worthily is good fortune.’ :

Stoic philosophy sees merit in facing discomfort and difficulty, if for no other reason than to prepare oneself for inevitable discomforts and difficulties. Thus, misfortune, when faced well, is thought of positively.

2) “Accustom yourself to giving careful attention to what others are saying, and try your best enter into the mind of the speaker.”

Was Stephen Covey influenced by Marcus Aurelius? This quote bears a striking resemblance to, “seek first to understand, then to be understood,” one of the famous Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

1) “Most of what we say and do is not necessary, and its omission would save both time and trouble. At every step, therefore, a man should ask himself, ‘Is this one of the things that are superfluous?’ Moreover, not idle actions only but even idle impressions ought to be suppressed; for then unnecessary action will not ensue.”

According to Aurelius, not only should you by mindful of your actions, you should be mindful of your thoughts. By monitoring and controlling your thoughts, doing the right thing becomes much easier.


There is nothing complex about Stoicism.

It’s simple yet deeply practical. If you’d like to learn other Stoic ways to improve your life, check out this short introduction and be sure to subscribe to The Green Pill Newsletter.

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