Marcus Aurelius, from Exhortations to Himself

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After you achieve those things called good, modest, true, rational, equanimous, and magnanimous, be sure you don’t start redefining the words! Remember that the term “rational” is intended to signify a discriminating attention to everything and freedom from negligence. “Equanimity” is voluntarily accepting what comes your way. “Magnanimity” is choosing generosity and forgiveness over selfishness, intelligent action over fame and even death.

If you live with these as they are defined rather than attempting to fool others into thinking you have them, you will become a new person and have a new life.

However, to continue as you are is to be torn to pieces by the life you are living. It is the actions of the stupid, and those too fond of merely staying, like someone mauled by a wild animal who knows death is inevitable but merely wants to live.

So, achieve these few words, and if you are able to live according to them, you will be happy. But if you begin to falter, go somewhere private and find them again, even if it kills you.

It helps to remember first principles. That which does the work of a fig tree is a fig tree. That which does the work of a dog is a dog. That which does the work of a bee is a bee. That which does the work of a human being is a human being. (X.10)

Poet, Senior Minister at First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, a Humanist congregation. Amazon author's page

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