Begin Each Day By Telling Yourself

Bust of Marcus Aurelius (26 April 121 – 17 March 180) in the Glyptothek, Munich

“Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading. Neither can I be angry with my brother or fall foul of him; for he and I were born to work together, like a man’s two hands, feet or eyelids, or the upper and lower rows of his teeth. To obstruct each other is against Nature’s law – and what is irritation or aversion but a form of obstruction.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations: Book 2, No. 1

A good reminder for those days when you could use a little perspective and distance from the difficult situations presented to us in life. This ties into a lot of things that modern psychology has uncovered, and I wish that we could bring people with this sort of ahead-of-their-time vision into the modern age and let them learn what modern science has taught us. I’ll bet it would be thrilling for them.

Thinking in this way, not just reading it, is one way that we can actually make ourselves happier. Realizing that bad actions are sometimes just born from stupidity and not malice is one trick. Realizing that some people are woefully ignorant of what it means to be good or happy is another. (Although this is more depressing than uplifting. I really do feel sorry for people who lack the the choice to be good or happy because they don’t have certain knowledge.)

I’ll post more Marcus Wisdom in a later post.

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About TheStevenator

My name is Steven Zuber. I am a 23 year old college student, studying cognitive science and whatever else catches my fancy at CSU. In my free time, I study subject that either aren't tought well in school, like math, or aren't covered at all in real classes, like interesting physics and psychology, play video games, and whatever else it is that people do. I'm dating an amazing woman who is currently getting her Master's degree at Columbia University.
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