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June 14, 2024

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Introduction: Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD, is often remembered not only for his reign but also for his profound philosophical reflections captured in his private journal known as “Meditations.” Among the many timeless insights contained within this work is the maxim, “I do what is mine to do: the rest does not disturb me.” This succinct statement encapsulates a core principle of Stoic philosophy and offers a guiding light for navigating life’s challenges with tranquility and purpose.

Stoicism and Inner Peace: Stoicism, an ancient Greek philosophy, teaches the cultivation of inner tranquility and moral virtue in the face of life’s uncertainties. Central to Stoic teachings is the idea of focusing on what lies within our control, while accepting with equanimity that which does not. Marcus Aurelius exemplified this Stoic ethos in both his personal life and his leadership as Emperor.

“I do what is mine to do”: This simple yet profound declaration by Marcus Aurelius reflects his commitment to fulfilling his duties and responsibilities to the best of his ability. In a world fraught with distractions and external pressures, Aurelius emphasizes the importance of staying true to one’s principles and obligations, regardless of external circumstances.

For Aurelius, doing what is “mine to do” implies acting with integrity, wisdom, and virtue in every situation. Whether it be matters of governance, personal conduct, or moral choices, he believed in aligning his actions with the highest ideals of Stoic philosophy.

“The rest does not disturb me”: The latter part of Aurelius’ maxim highlights the Stoic principle of detachment from external outcomes. While he recognized the importance of exerting effort and diligence in his endeavors, Aurelius also understood the futility of becoming overly attached to outcomes beyond his control.

By relinquishing attachment to external outcomes, Aurelius attained a sense of inner peace and freedom from anxiety. He accepted that despite his best efforts, some things would inevitably unfold according to the whims of fate or the actions of others. Instead of allowing such uncertainties to disturb his tranquility, Aurelius focused on maintaining his inner equilibrium and moral integrity.

Applying Aurelius’ Wisdom Today: The wisdom encapsulated in Marcus Aurelius’ maxim remains as relevant today as it was in ancient Rome. In a world characterized by constant change and uncertainty, his teachings offer valuable guidance for cultivating resilience, wisdom, and inner peace.

In practical terms, Aurelius’ maxim encourages us to:

  1. Identify our duties and responsibilities, both personal and professional, and commit to fulfilling them with excellence.
  2. Practice mindfulness and self-awareness to discern what lies within our control and what does not.
  3. Cultivate emotional resilience and detachment from external outcomes, recognizing that true fulfillment comes from aligning our actions with our values, rather than from external validation or success.

Conclusion: Marcus Aurelius’ maxim, “I do what is mine to do: the rest does not disturb me,” serves as a timeless reminder of the power of Stoic philosophy to guide us towards a life of purpose, virtue, and inner tranquility. By embracing this Stoic ethos and aligning our actions with our principles, we can navigate life’s challenges with grace and resilience, ultimately finding fulfillment in the pursuit of moral excellence.


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