1. Be the same in all circumstances – intense pain, the loss of a child, chronic illness.
2. 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 or 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 obstructions.
3. Discard your thirst for books, so that you won’t die in bitterness, but in cheerfulness and truth.
4. Yes, keep on degrading yourself, soul. But soon your chance at dignity will be gone. Everyone gets one life. Yours is almost used up, and instead of trading yourself with respect, you have entrusted your own happiness to the soul of others.
5. If there was anything harmful on the other side of death, they would have made sure that the ability to avoid it was within you. If it doesn’t harm your character, how can it harm your life?
6. All you have to do is to be attentive to the power inside you and worship it sincerely.
7. That the longest-lived and those who will die soonest lose the same thing. The present is all that they can give up, since that is all you have, and what you do not have, you cannot lose.
8. Accept death in a cheerful spirit, as nothing but the dissolution of the elements from which each living thing is composed.
9. Don’t waste the rest of your time here worrying about other people – unless it affects the common good. It will keep you from doing anything useful. You’ll be too preoccupied with what so-and-so is doing, and why, and what they’re saying, and what they’re thinking, and what they’re up to, and all the other things that throw you off and keep you from focusing on your own mind.
10. Let the spirit in your represent a man, an adult, a citizen, a Roman, a ruler. Taking up his post like a soldier and patiently awaiting his recall from life. Needing no oath or witness. Cheerfulness. Without requiring other people’s help. Or serenity supplied by others. To stand up straight – not straightened.
11. Your ability to control your thoughts – treat it with respect. It’s all that protects your mind from false perceptions – false to your nature, and that of all rational beings. It’s what makes thoughtfulness possible, and affection for other people, and submission to the divine.
12. Forget everything else. Keep hold of this alone and remember it: Each of us lives only now, this brief instant.
13. Stop drifting. You’re not going to re-read your Brief Comments, your Deeds of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, the commonplace books you saved for your old age. Sprint for the finish. Write off your hopes, and if your well-being matters to you, be your own saviour while you can.
14. Nowhere you can go is more peaceful – more free of interruptions – than your own soul.
15. The world is nothing but change. Our life is only perception.
16. Death: something like birth, a natural mystery, elements that split and recombine. Not an embracing thing. Not an offence to reason, or our nature.
17. Choose not to be harmed – and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed – and you haven’t been.
18. People who are excited by posthumous fame forget that people who remember them will soon die too. And those after them in turn. Until their memory, passed from one to another like a candle flame, gutters and goes out. But suppose that those who remembered you were immortal and your memory undying. What good would it do to you? And I don’t just mean when you’re dead, but in your own lifetime. What use is praise, except to make your lifestyle a little more comfortable? You’re out of step – neglecting the gifts of nature to hand on someone’s words in the future.