Marcus Aurelius’ Daily Affirmation
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 he 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.
It is a worthwhile exercise to write oneself such an affirmation, a daily reminder of one’s place in the universe, and of one’s weaknesses for the simple sake of self-betterment and resolution. I keep this quote next to Franklin’s 13 tenets.
Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
Franklin’s Free and Easy Society had a list of worthwhile questions to be asked again and again:
1. 1. Have you met with any thing in the author you last read, remarkable, or suitable to be communicated to the Junto? particularly in history, morality, poetry, physics, travels, mechanic arts, or other parts of knowledge?
2. What new story have you lately heard agreeable for telling in conversation?
3. Hath any citizen in your knowledge failed in his business lately, and what have you heard of the cause?
4. Have you lately heard of any citizen’s thriving well, and by what means?
5. Have you lately heard how any present rich man, here or elsewhere, got his estate?
6. Do you know of any fellow citizen, who has lately done a worthy action, deserving praise and imitation? or who has committed an error proper for us to be warned against and avoid?
7. What unhappy effects of intemperance have you lately observed or heard? of imprudence? of passion? or of any other vice or folly?
What happy effects of temperance
? of prudence? of moderation? or of any other virtue?
9. Have you or any of your acquaintance been lately sick or wounded? If so, what remedies were used, and what were their effects?
10. Who do you know that are shortly going [on] voyages or journeys, if one should have occasion to send by them?
11. Do you think of any thing at present, in which the Junto may be serviceable to mankind? to their country, to their friends, or to themselves?
12. Hath any deserving stranger arrived in town since last meeting, that you heard of? and what have you heard or observed of his character or merits? and whether think you, it lies in the power of the Junto to oblige him, or encourage him as he deserves?
13. Do you know of any deserving young beginner lately set up, whom it lies in the power of the Junto any way to encourage?
14. Have you lately observed any defect in the laws, of which it would be proper to move the legislature an amendment? Or do you know of any beneficial law that is wanting?
15. Have you lately observed any encroachment on the just liberties of the people?
16. Hath any body attacked your reputation lately? and what can the Junto do towards securing it?
17. Is there any man whose friendship you want, and which the Junto, or any of them, can procure for you?
18. Have you lately heard any member’s character attacked, and how have you defended it?
19. Hath any man injured you, from whom it is in the power of the Junto to procure redress?
20. In what manner can the Junto, or any of them, assist you in any of your honourable designs?
21. Have you any weighty affair in hand, in which you think the advice of the Junto may be of service?
22. What benefits have you lately received from any man not present?
23. Is there any difficulty in matters of opinion, of justice, and injustice, which you would gladly have discussed at this time?
24. Do you see any thing amiss in the present customs or proceedings of the Junto, which might be amended?
25. Any person to be qualified as a member was to stand up, lay his hand upon his breast, and be asked the following questions, viz.
26. Have you any particular disrespect to any present members? Answer. I have not.
27. Do you sincerely declare that you love mankind in general, of what profession or religion soever? Answer. I do.
28. Do you think any person ought to be harmed in his body, name, or goods, for mere speculative opinions, or his external way of worship? Answer. No.
29. Do you love truth for truth’s sake, and will you endeavor impartially to find and receive it yourself, and communicate it to others? Answer. Yes.