The counsels of Maximus taught me to command myself, to judge clearly, to be of good courage in sickness and other misfortunes, to be moderate, gentle, yet serious in disposition, and to accomplish my appointed task without repining. All men believed that he spoke as he thought; and whatever he did, they knew it was done with good intent. I never found him surprised or astonished at anything. He was never in a hurry, never shrank from his purpose, was never at a loss or dejected. He was no facile smiler, but neither was he passionate or suspicious. He was ready to do good, to forgive, and to speak the truth, and gave the impression of unperverted rectitude rather than of a reformed character. No man could ever think himself despised by Maximus, and no one ever ventured to think himself his superior. He had also a good gift of humour.
All that happens is as natural and familiar as a rose in spring, or fruit in summer. Such are disease and death, calumny and treachery, and all else which gives fools joy or sorrow.
Only time can heal what reason cannot.
The rabbit runs faster than the fox, because the rabbit is running for his life while the fox is only running for his dinner
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional
In the morning, when you find yourself unwilling to rise, have this thought at hand: I arise to the proper business of man, and shall I repine at setting about that work for which I was born and brought into the world? Am I equipped for nothing but to lie among the bed-clothes and keep warm? “But,” you say, “it is more pleasant so.” Is pleasure, then, the object of your being, and not action, and the exercise of your powers? Do you not see the smallest plants, the little sparrows, the ants, the spiders, the bees, all doing their part, and working for order in the Universe, as far as in them lies? And will you refuse the part in this design which is laid on man? Will you not pursue the course which accords with your own nature? You say, “I must have rest.” Assuredly; but nature appoints a measure for rest, just as for eating and drinking. In rest you go beyond these limits, and beyond what is enough; but in action you do not fill the measure, and remain well within your powers. You do not love yourself; if you did, you would love your nature and its purpose. Others, who love the art that they have made their own, exhaust themselves with labouring at it unwashed and unfed. But you honour your own nature less than the carver honours his carving, less than the dancer honours his dancing, the miser his gold, or the vain man his empty fame. These men, when desire takes them, count food and sleep well lost if they can better realize the object of their longings; and shall the pursuit of the common good seem less precious in your eyes and worthy of a lesser zeal?
Say this to yourself in the morning: Today I shall have to do with meddlers, with the ungrateful, with the insolent, with the crafty, with the envious and the selfish. All these vices have beset them, because they know not what is good and what is evil. But I have considered the nature of the good, and found it beautiful: I have beheld the nature of the bad, and found it ugly. I also understand the nature of the evil-doer, and know that he is my brother, not because he shares with me the same blood or the same seed, but because he is a partaker of the same mind and of the same portion of immortality. I therefore cannot be hurt by any of these, since none of them can involve me in any baseness. I cannot be angry with my brother, or sever myself from him, for we are made by nature for mutual assistance, like the feet, the hands, the eyelids, the upper and lower rows of teeth. It is against nature for men to oppose each other; and what else is anger and aversion?
Man must consider, not only that each day part of his life is spent, and that less and less remains to him, but also that, even if he live longer, it is very uncertain whether his intelligence will suffice as heretofore for the understanding of his affairs, and for grasping that knowledge which aims at comprehending things human and divine. When dotage begins, breath, nourishment, fancy, impulse, and so forth will not fail him. But self-command, accurate appreciation of duty, power to scrutinize what strikes his senses, or even to decide whether he should take his departure, all powers, indeed, which demand a well-trained understanding, must be extinguished in him. Let him be up and doing then, not only because death comes nearer every day, but because understanding and intelligence often leave us before we die.
Let no action be done at random, nor otherwise than in complete accordance with the principles involved.
Men seek retirement in the country, on the sea-coast, in the mountains; and you too have frequent longings for such distractions. Yet surely this is great folly, since you may retire into yourself at any hour you please. Nowhere can a man find any retreat more quiet and more full of leisure than in his own soul; especially when there is that within it on which, if he but look, he is straightway quite at rest. And rest I hold to be naught else but perfect order in the soul. Constantly, therefore, allow yourself this retirement, and so renew yourself. Have also at hand thoughts brief and fundamental, which readily may occur; sufficing to shut out the discordant clamour of the world, and to send you back without fretting at the task to which you return. For at what do you fret? At the wickedness of mankind. Recollect the maxim that all reasoning beings are created for one another, that to bear with them is a part of justice, and that they cannot help their sin. Remember how many of those who lived in enmity, suspicion, and hatred, at daggers drawn, have been stretched on their funeral pyres, and turned to ashes. Remember and cease from your complaints. Is it your allotted part in the world’s destiny that chagrins you? Be calm, and renew your knowledge of the alternative, that “Either providence directs the world, or there is nothing but unguided atoms;” and recollect the many proofs that the Universe is as it were a state. Do the ills of the body still have power to touch you? Reflect that the mind, once withdrawn within itself, once grown conscious of its own power, has no concern with the motions, rough or smooth, of the breathing body. Remember, too, all that you have heard and assented to concerning pain and pleasure. Are you distracted by the poor thing called fame? Think how swiftly all things are forgotten. Behold the chaos of eternity which besets us on either side. Think how empty is the noisy echo of acclamation; how fickle and how scant of judgment are they who would seem to praise us, and how narrow the bounds within which their praise is confined. All the earth is but a point in the Universe; how small a corner of that little is inhabited, and even there how few are they and of how little worth who are to praise us! Remember then that there ever remains for you retirement into the little field within. And, above all, be neither distraught nor overstrained. Hold fast your freedom: consider all things as a man of courage, as a human being, as a citizen, as a mortal. Readiest among the principles to which you look let there be these two: Firstly, things external do not touch the soul, but remain powerless without; and all trouble comes from what we think of them within. Secondly, all things visible change in a moment, and are gone for ever. Recollect all the changes of which you have yourself been a witness. The world is a succession of changes: life is but thought.
As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters
The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.
We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.
If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable
Events happen as they do. People behave as they are. Embrace what you actually get. It is not things that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance. … Remember to discriminate between events themselves and your interpretations of them.
Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions
Don’t demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do happen, and you will go on well.
The primary indication, to my thinking, of a well-ordered mind is a man’s ability to remain in one place and linger in his own company. Everywhere means nowhere. There is nothing so efficacious that it can be helpful while it is being shifted about. And in reading of many books is distraction. Accordingly, since you cannot read all the books which you may possess, it is enough to possess only as many books as you can read. “But,” you reply, “I wish to dip first into one book and then into another.” I tell you that it is the sign of an overnice appetite to toy with many dishes; for when they are manifold and varied, they cloy but do not nourish. So you should always read standard authors; and when you crave a change, fall back upon those whom you read before.
When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends.
Each day acquire something that will fortify you against poverty, against death, indeed against other misfortunes as well; and after you have run over many thoughts, select one to be thoroughly digested that day.
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing