140 Marcus Aurelius Quotes

You’re sure to get a peek of your inner consciousness with these Marcus Aurelius quotes. And if what you need is a little push in the right direction, then maybe these notes from the last of the Five Good Emperors are perfect for you!

We’ve gathered 140 quotes from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations in hopes that they can serve as daily reminders for us to build good habits and strive to find the good that’s innate in all of us.

Check out the complete list below.

Best Marcus Aurelius Quotes

1. “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”

2. “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.”

3. “It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”

4. “Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: what fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?”

5. “You have power over your mind—not outside events. Realize this and you will find strength.”

6. “The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.”

7. “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.”

8. “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

9. “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

10. “If it is not right, do not do it; if it is not true, do not say it.”

11. “The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.”

12. “Accept the things to which fate binds you and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.”

13. “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.”

14. “Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars and see yourself running with them.”

15. “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.”

16. “The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.”

17. “The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.”

18. “If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.”

19. “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 opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.”

20. “Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”

Marcus Aurelius Quotes on the Motivation to Do Good

21. “How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.”

22. “Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look.”

23. “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

24. “What we do now echoes in eternity.”

25. “Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.”

26. “For it is in your power to retire into yourself whenever you choose.”

27. “Perfection of character is this: to live each day as if it were your last—without frenzy, without apathy, without pretence.”

28. “Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.”

29. “A man’s worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions.”

30. “Perfect tranquility within consists in the good ordering of the mind—the realm of your own.”

31. “Do what you will. Even if you tear yourself apart, most people will continue doing the same things.”

32. “Whoever does wrong, wrongs himself; whoever does injustice, does it to himself—making himself evil.”

33. “Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish.”

34. “The happiness of those who want to be popular depends on others; the happiness of those who seek pleasure fluctuates with moods outside their control; but the happiness of the wise grows out of their own free acts.”

35. “Dig within—within is the wellspring of good; and it is always ready to bubble up, if you just dig.”

36. “Take full account of what excellencies you possess, and in gratitude, remember how you would hanker after them, if you had them not.”

37. “That which is really beautiful has no need of anything; not more than law, not more than truth, not more than benevolence or modesty.”

38. “A man must stand erect, not be kept erect by others.”

39. “Every living organism is fulfilled when it follows the right path for its own nature.”

40. “Adapt yourself to the life you have been given; and truly love the people with whom destiny has surrounded you.”

41. “A wrongdoer is often a man who has left something undone, not always one who has done something.”

42. “Neither worse, then, or better is a thing made by being praised.”

43. “Observe the movements of the stars as if you were running their courses with them, and let your mind constantly dwell on the changes of the elements into each other. Such imaginings wash away the filth of life on the ground.”

44. “The blazing fire makes flames and brightness out of everything thrown into it.”

45. “In the life of a man, his time is but a moment, his being an incessant flux, his sense a dim rushlight, his body a prey of worms, his soul an unquiet eddy, his fortune dark, his fame doubtful. In short, all that is body is as coursing waters, all that is of the soul as dreams and vapors.”

46. “Live out your life in truth and justice, tolerant of those who are neither true nor just.”

47. “Look beneath the surface; let not the several qualities of a thing nor its worth escape thee.”

48. “That which is not good for the swarm, neither is it good for the bee.”

49. “Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.”

50. “Do not think that what is hard for you to master is humanly impossible; and if it is humanly possible, consider it to be within your reach.”

51. “Never forget that the universe is a single living organism possessed of one substance and one soul—holding all things suspended in a single consciousness and creating all things with a single purpose that they might work together spinning and weaving and knotting whatever comes to pass.”

52. “As far as you can, get into the habit of asking yourself in relation to any action taken by another: ‘What is his point of reference here?’ But begin with yourself, examine yourself first.”

53. “No one loses any other life than the one he now lives, nor does one live any other life than that which he will lose.”

54. “A man should always have these two rules in readiness. First, to do only what the reason of your ruling and legislating faculties suggest for the service of man. Second, to change your opinion whenever anyone at hand sets you right and unsettles you in an opinion, but this change of opinion should come only because you are persuaded that something is just or to the public advantage, not because it appears pleasant or increases your reputation.”

55. “The happiness and unhappiness of the rational, social animal depends not on what he feels, but on what he does; just as his virtue and vice consist not in feeling but in doing.”

56. “And in the case of superior things like stars, we discover a kind of unity in separation. The higher we rise on the scale of being, the easier it is to discern a connection even among things separated by vast distances.”

57. “Do not be ashamed of help.”

58. “Kindness is unconquerable, so long as it is without flattery or hypocrisy. For what can the most insolent man do to you, if you contrive to be kind to him, and if you have the chance, gently advise and calmly show him what is right, and point this out tactfully and from a universal perspective. But you must not do this with sarcasm or reproach, but lovingly and without anger in your soul.”

59. “Everything in any way beautiful has its beauty of itself, inherent and self-sufficient. Praise is no part of it.”

60. “You need to avoid certain things in your train of thought—everything random, everything irrelevant, and certainly everything self-important or malicious.”

61. “Will any man despise me? Let him see to it. But I will see to it that I may not be found doing or saying anything that deserves to be despised.”

62. “The honest and good man ought to be exactly like a man who smells strong, so that the bystander as soon as he comes near him must smell whether he chooses or not.”

63. “Be your own master, and look at things as a man, as a human being, as a citizen, as a mortal creature.”

64. “Nothing is more scandalous than a man that is proud of his humility.”

65. “Give up your thirst for books, so that you do not die a grouch.”

66. “To read with diligence; not to rest satisfied with a light and superficial knowledge, nor quickly to assent to things commonly spoken.”

67. “Anywhere you can lead your life, you can lead a good one.”

Marcus Aurelius Quotes on Change and the Uncertainty of Life

68. “Do every act of your life as though it were the very last act of your life.”

69. “You always own the option of having no opinion. There is never any need to get worked up or to trouble your soul about things you can’t control. These things are not asking to be judged by you. Leave them alone.”

70. “Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future too.”

71. “Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun. If you do not, the sun will soon set, and you with it.”

72. “How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything which happens in life.”

73. “Observe always that everything is the result of change, and get used to thinking that there is nothing nature loves so well as to change existing forms and make new ones like them.”

74. “The memory of everything is very soon overwhelmed in time.”

75. “Confine yourself to the present.”

76. “Pass then through this little space of time conformably to nature, and end thy journey in content, just as an olive falls off when it is ripe, blessing nature who produced it, and thanking the tree on which it grew.”

77. “The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing, in so far as it stands ready against the accidental and the unforeseen, and is not apt to fall.”

78. “No one can lose either the past or the future—how could anyone be deprived of what he does not possess? It is only the present moment of which either stands to be deprived, and if this is all he has, he cannot lose what he does not have.”

79. “What we cannot bear removes us from life; what remains can be borne.”

80. “Life is opinion.”

81. “All things fade and quickly turn to myth.”

82. “Everything—a horse, a vine—is created for some duty. For what task, then, were you yourself created?”

83. “It loved to happen.”

84. “The time is at hand when you will have forgotten everything; and the time is at hand when all will have forgotten you. Always reflect that soon you will be no one, and nowhere.”

85. “Everything that happens, happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so.”

86. “Everything is banal in experience, fleeting in duration, sordid in content; in all respects the same today as generations now dead and buried have found it to be.”

87. “Everything is only for a day—both that which remembers and that which is remembered.”

88. “Fame after life is no better than oblivion.”

89. “When force of circumstance upsets your equanimity, lose no time in recovering your self-control, and do not remain out of tune longer than you can help. Habitual recurrence to the harmony will increase your mastery of it.”

90. “We are the other of the other.”

91. “All of us are creatures of a day—the rememberer and the remembered alike. All is ephemeral—both memory and the object of memory.

92. “For outward show is a wonderful perverter of the reason.”

93. “Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be.”

94. “Whatever time you choose is the right time—not late, not early.”

95. “All things from eternity are of like forms and come round in a circle.”

Marcus Aurelius Quotes on Death and Stoicism

96. “When another blames you or hates you, or people voice similar criticisms, go to their souls, penetrate inside and see what sort of people they are. You will realize that there is no need to be racked with anxiety that they should hold any particular opinion about you.”

97. “Do not act as if you were going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over you. While you live, while it is in your power, be good.”

98. “Here is a rule to remember in future when anything tempts you to feel bitter: not ‘This is misfortune,’ but ‘To bear this worthily is good fortune.’”

99. “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.”

100. “You are a little soul carrying about a corpse, as Epictetus used to say.”

101. “Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now, take what’s left and live it properly. What doesn’t transmit light creates its own darkness.”

102. “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

103. “Nothing happens to anybody which he is not fitted by nature to bear.”

104. “Receive without conceit, release without struggle.”

105. “Life is neither good or evil, but only a place for good and evil.”

106. “Whatever anyone does or says, I must be emerald and keep my color.”

107. “Humans have come into being for the sake of each other, so either teach them, or learn to bear them.”

108. “Accept whatever comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more aptly fit your needs?”

109. “Regain your senses, call yourself back, and once again wake up. Now that you realize that only dreams were troubling you, view this ‘reality’ as you view your dreams.”

110. “If you are pained by external things, it is not they that disturb you, but it is your own judgement of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgement now.”

111. “Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.”

112. “Misfortune, nobly born, is good fortune.”

113. “Be like the cliff against which the waves continually break; but it stands firm and tames the fury of the water around it.”

114. “Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been.”

115. “Death smiles at us all; all we can do is smile back.”

116. “I was once a fortunate man, but at some point, fortune abandoned me. But true good fortune is what you make for yourself. Good fortune—good character, good intentions, and good actions.”

117. “In the morning when thou risest unwillingly, let this thought be present—I am rising to the work of a human being. Why then am I dissatisfied if I am going to do the things for which I exist and for which I was brought into the world?”

118. “Unhappy am I because this has happened to me. Not so, but happy am I, though this has happened to me, because I continue free from pain—neither crushed by the present nor fearing the future.”

119. “No man is happy who does not think of himself so.”

120. “It is not the actions of others which trouble us—for those actions are controlled by their governing part—but rather it is our own judgments. Therefore, remove those judgments and resolve to let go of your anger, and it will already be gone. How do you let go? By realizing that such actions are not shameful to you.”

121. “All things of the body stream away like a river, all things of the mind are dreams and delusion; life is warfare, and a visit to a strange land; the only lasting fame is oblivion.”

122. “Time is like a river made up of the events which happen, and a violent stream; for as soon as a thing has been seen, it is carried away, and another comes in its place, and this will be carried away too.”

123. “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.”

124. “Anger cannot be dishonest.”

125. “It is within our power not to make a judgement about something, and so not disturb our minds; for nothing in itself possesses the power to form our judgements.”

126. “When men are inhuman, take care not to feel towards them as they do towards other humans.”

127. “Look to nothing, not even for a moment, except to reason.”

128. “It is a ridiculous thing for a man not to fly from his own badness, which is indeed possible, but to fly from other men’s badness, which is impossible.”

129. “Today I escaped anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions—not outside.”

130. “The sexual embrace can only be compared with music and with prayer.”

131. “He is so rich, he has no room to shit.”

132. “In an expression of true gratitude, sadness is conspicuous only by its absence.”

133. “Today I escaped all circumstances, or rather I cast out all circumstances, for it was not outside me, but within my judgements.”

134. “Ambition means tying your well-being to what other people say or do. Self-indulgence means tying it to the things that happen to you. Sanity means tying it to your own actions.”

135. “A better wrestler, but not a better citizen, a better person, a better resource in tight places, a better forgiver of faults.”

136. “Everywhere, at each moment, you have the option: to accept this event with humility, to treat this person as he should be treated, to approach this thought with care, so that nothing irrational creeps in.”

137. “A key point to bear in mind: the value of attentiveness varies in proportion to its object. You’re better off not giving the small things more time than they deserve.”

138. “Never wilt your soul, never be just good, simple or unpolished. Manifest more than the body that surrounds yourself.”

139. “Remember, nothing belongs to you but your flesh and blood—and nothing else is under your control.”

140. “To pursue the unattainable is insanity, yet the thoughtless can never refrain from doing so.”

Which of These Marcus Aurelius Quotes Make You Want to Live Your Best Possible Life?

Meditations, as narrated by Marcus Aurelius, is a written account that gives light to how one of the most powerful men during his time was able to rise above the challenge and maintain his composure—striving to keep the world under his rule virtuous, just, and humane. In his teachings he demonstrates that the good is within all of us—in our own actions and temperaments.

Do you think these quotes from Marcus Aurelius are still relevant today? How do you think we can apply his teachings to our day-to-day experiences? Let us know in the comments section below.

Amy Finn

Hi. I'm Amy, the founder of this blog. I love quotes and enjoy sharing the best ones with you.

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