He likened his relation to bad people to them being different body parts of the same person. Good and bad people are both part of the same universal nature and they are meant to interact and cooperate. Marcus Aurelius—and indeed all the Stoics—believed that we were part of an inner-connected organism. That you couldn’t hurt one person without hurting them all. “What injures the hive, injures the bee,” he said. “The best revenge,” he said, “is not to be like that.” Meaning: When you hurt others, you hurt the group and you hurt yourself.
It is against nature to despise evil people and try to avoid them. When we find ourselves judging others, we ought to consider our own faults first. Then we will find that we are less prone to blaming them. Rather than judge and be disturbed by others, which sets us up for disappointment and distress, we ought to focus on self-improvement.
“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.”
“If it is not right, do not do it, if it is not true, do not say it.”
“The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
“Concentrate every minute like a Roman—like a man—on doing what’s in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly, with justice. And on freeing yourself from all other distractions. Yes, you can—if you do everything as if it were the last thing you were doing in your life, and stop being aimless, stop letting your emotions override what your mind tells you, stop being hypocritical, self-centered, irritable. You see how few things you have to do to live a satisfying and reverent life? If you can manage this, that’s all even the gods can ask of you.”
“We all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.”
“Not to feel exasperated, or defeated, or despondent because your days aren’t packed with wise and moral actions. But to get back up when you fail, to celebrate behaving like a human—however imperfectly—and fully embrace the pursuit that you’ve embarked on.”
“How easy it is to repel and to wipe away every impression which is troublesome or unsuitable, and immediately to be in all tranquility.”
“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.”
“Ambition means tying your well-being to what other people say or do… Sanity means tying it to your own actions.”
“Discard your misperceptions. Stop being jerked like a puppet. Limit yourself to the present.”