Highlights from his diary that can be used and reviewed daily, in no particular order. Life changing and I can’t recommend this enough. The full book can be found here.

You are watching: To expect bad men not to do wrong is madness


*

Upon Waking:

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? Or have I been made for this, to lie in the bedclothes and keep myself warm?”

BEGIN THE MORNING BY SAYING TO THYSELF, I SHALL MEET WITH THE busy-body, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial.

On living in the present:

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.

Remember how long thou hast been putting off these things, and how often thou hast received an opportunity from the gods, and yet dost not use it.

For the present is the only thing of which a man can be deprived, if it is true that this is the only thing which he has, and that a man cannot lose a thing if he has it not.

Do not act as if thou wert going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over thee. While thou livest, while it is in thy power, be good.

Wipe out the imagination. Stop the pulling of the strings. Confine thyself to the present.

Understand well what happens either to thee or to another.Thou sufferest this justly: for thou choosest rather to become good tomorrow than to be good to-day.

On the shortness of life:

For it is one of the acts of life, this act by which we die: it is sufficient then in this act also to do well what we have in hand.

Be not dissatisfied then that thou must live only so many years and not more; for as thou art satisfied with the amount of substance which has been assigned to thee, so be content with the time.

About death: Whether it is a dispersion, or a resolution into atoms, or annihilation, it is either extinction or change.

From Plato: The man who has an elevated mind and takes a view of all time and of all substance, dost thou suppose it possible for him to think that human life is anything great? it is not possible, he said ”Such a man then will think that death also is no evil.” Certainly not.

Consider thyself to be dead, and to have completed thy life up to the present time; and live according to nature the remainder which is allowed thee.

Consider when thou art much vexed or grieved, that man’s life is only a moment, and after a short time we are all laid out dead.

On materialism:

Commodity of life, and of which fortune gives an abundant supply, he used without arrogance and without excusing himself; so that when he had them, he enjoyed them without affectation, and when he had them not, he did not want them.

Think not so much of what thou hast not as of what thou hast: but of the things which thou hast select the best, and then reflect how eagerly they would have been sought, if thou hadst them not.

At the same time however take care that thou dost not through being so pleased with them accustom thyself to overvalue them, so as to be disturbed if ever thou shouldst not have them.

Adorn thyself with simplicity and modesty and with indifference towards the things which lie between virtue and vice. Love mankind. Follow God.

It is not right to vex ourselves at things, For they care nought about it.

Receive wealth or prosperity without arrogance; and be ready to let it go.

All things are the same, familiar in experience, and ephemeral in time, and worthless in the matter. Everything now is just as it was in the time of those whom we have buried.

On self reliance:

Stand erect, not be kept erect by others.

For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retire than into his own soul, particularly when he has within him such thoughts that by looking into them he is immediately in perfect tranquility;

Our perturbations come only from the opinion which is within.

That we ought not, like children who learn from their parents, simply to act and speak as we have been taught.

Let the part of thy soul which leads and governs be undisturbed by the movements in the flesh, whether of pleasure or of pain;

When thou hast been compelled by circumstances to be disturbed in a manner, quickly return to thyself and do not continue out of tune longer than the compulsion lasts; for thou wilt have more mastery over the harmony by continually recurring to it.

Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig.

The art of life is more like the wrestlers art than the dancers, in respect of this, that it should stand ready and firm to meet onsets which are sudden and unexpected.

But most of all when thou blamest a man as faithless or ungrateful, turn to thyself. For the fault is manifestly thy own, whether thou didst trust that a man who had such a disposition would keep his promise,

Accustom thyself as much as possible on the occasion of anything being done by any person to inquire with thyself, FOR what object is this man doing this? But begin with thyself, and examine thyself first.

On principles/values:

Never value anything as profitable to thyself which shall compel thee to break thy promise, to lose thy self-respect, to hate any man, to suspect, to curse, to act the hypocrite.

Nothing is more disgraceful than a wolfish friendship (false friendship). Avoid this most of all.

As physicians have always their instruments and knives ready for cases which suddenly require their skill, so do thou have principles ready for the understanding of things divine and human, and for doing everything, even the smallest, with a recollection of the bond which unites the divine and human to one another.

The best way of avenging thyself is not to become like the wrong doer.

consider that thou also doest many things wrong, and that thou art a man like others

If any man is able to convince me and show me that I do not think or act right, I will gladly change; for I seek the truth by which no man was ever injured. But he is injured who abides in his error and ignorance.

Penetrate inwards into mens leading principles, and thou wilt see what judges thou art afraid of, and what kind of judges they are of themselves.

On the dangers external influences:

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.

Men despise one another and flatter one another; and men wish to raise themselves above one another, and crouch before one another.

How much trouble he avoids who does not look to see what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only to what he does himself, that it may be just and pure;

look not round at the depraved morals of others, but run straight along the line without deviating from it.

Seventh, that it is not mens acts which disturb us, for those acts have their foundation in mens ruling principles, but it is our own opinions which disturb us.

He who has a vehement desire for posthumous fame does not consider that every one of those who remember him will himself also die very soon;

Does any one do wrong? It is to himself that he does the wrong. Has anything happened to thee?

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.

Does another do me wrong? Let him look to it. He has his own disposition, his own activity. I now have what the universal nature wills me to have; and I do what my nature now wills me to do.

consider how much more pain is brought on us by the anger and vexation caused by such acts than by the acts themselves, at which we are angry and vexed.

How strangely men act. They will not praise those who are living at the same time and living with themselves; but to be themselves praised by posterity, by those whom they have never seen or ever will see, this they set much value on. But this is very much the same as if thou shouldst be grieved because those who have lived before thee did not praise thee.

It is thy duty to leave another man’s wrongful act there where it is.

When thou art offended with any man’s shameless conduct, immediately ask thyself, Is it possible, then, that shameless men should not be in the world? It is not possible. Do not, then, require what is impossible.

On being good:

Have I done something for the general interest? Well then I have had my reward. Let this always be present to thy mind, and never stop doing such good.

to expect bad men not to do wrong is madness, for he who expects this desires an impossibility. But to allow men to behave so to others, and to expect them not to do thee any wrong, is irrational and tyrannical

On self improvement:

Practise thyself even in the things which thou despairest of accomplishing. For even the left hand, which is ineffectual for all other things for want of practice, holds the bridle more vigorously than the right hand; for it has been practised in this.

On faith:

Live with the gods. And he does live with the gods who constantly shows to them, his own soul is satisfied with that which is assigned to him,

Conformably to piety, that thou mayest be content with the lot which is assigned to thee, for nature designed it for thee and thee for it.

Love that only which happens to thee and is spun with the thread of thy destiny. For what is more suitable?

thoughts just, and acts social, and words which never lie, and a disposition which gladly accepts all that happens, as necessary, as usual, as flowing from a principle and source of the same kind.

Nothing happens to any man which he is not formed by nature to bear. The same things happen to another, and either because he does not see that they have happened or because he would show a great spirit he is firm and remains unharmed.

But if we judge only those things which are in our power to be good or bad, there remains no reason either for finding fault with God or standing in a hostile attitude to man.

there must be no love of life: but as to these matters a man must intrust them to the deity and believe what the women say, that no man can escape his destiny, the next inquiry being how he may best live the time that he has to live.

With respect to that which happens conformably to nature, we ought to blame neither gods, for they do nothing wrong either voluntarily or involuntarily, nor men, for they do nothing wrong except involuntarily. Consequently we should blame nobody.

On perspective:

Think of the universal substance, of which thou hast a very small portion; and of universal time, of which a short and indivisible interval has been assigned to thee; and of that which is fixed by destiny, and how small a part of it thou art.

When a man has done thee any wrong, immediately consider with what opinion about good or evil he has done wrong. For when thou hast seen this, thou wilt pity him, and wilt neither wonder nor be angry.

See more: How Is Rubbing Alcohol A Heterogeneous Or Homogeneous Mixture

In everything which happens keep before thy eyes those to whom the same things happened, and how they were vexed, and treated them as strange things, and found fault with them: and now where are they? Nowhere. Why then dost thou too choose to act in the same way?

Every soul, the philosopher says, is involuntarily deprived of truth; consequently in the same way it is deprived of justice and temperance and benevolence and everything of the kind. It is most necessary to bear this constantly in mind, for thus thou wilt be more gentle towards all.