Marcus Aurelius: How to Deal with People

To build some reflection time each morning, I am going to try to post a quote here, now and then. Today is one that I commonly put on my bathroom or bedroom mirror and that came up last night, from the Stoic Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.

“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural.”

― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

[Image: “File:Barns,Forest,Fog,Forest,Fog And The Alps – panoramio.jpg” by Alexander Reuss is licensed under CC BY 3.0]

One thought on “Marcus Aurelius: How to Deal with People

  1. When we know that what we do is “ugly” but we do it anyway, we commit a sin against ourselves that is more harmful than anything that our ugliness might cause in its ripples. And that latter can be pretty bad. Knowing that something is wrong, and yet doing it anyway, breaks a barrier inside us; a barrier that keeps us healthy. Next time we meet that barrier, it is already broken and we won’t feel so bad about doing something ugly. Before long, our whole being becomes ugly and we don’t care. Or we do, but we’ve learned to hide our pain from ourselves. We should all allow that pain to surface, so that we can again choose not to be ugly. It’s not too late to feel remorse and to remove the stain of our past sins. We don’t need to point a finger of blame at anyone else: each of us has enough ugliness of our own.

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