Marcus Aurelius on Disturbance from Within

Marcus Aurelius on Disturbance from Within January 7, 2021

Sagely advice, another classic in the “dichotomy of control” from Marcus Aurelius’ famous Meditations. And after 2020, I couldn’t think of a better quote to ring in the New Year:

“Things have no hold on the soul. They stand there unmoving, outside it. Disturbance comes only from within – from our own perceptions”

Prior to this sentiment, Marcus writes about our “inward power” and how there is always a choice on how we can respond to adversity “by going within” and how “nowhere you can go is more peaceful – more free of interruptions – than your own soul”.

The more I read Marcus, the more I see how the likes of Frankl, Mandela, and others were inspired by Stoic principles; and specifically on this theme of the dichotomy of control – focusing on what you can control and the realization that the choice is always ours on how we respond to adversity.


1) Pages 37-38 in Marcus Aurelius, and Gregory Hays. 2003. Meditations: a new translation. New York: Modern Library.

2) Image: Marcus Aurelius. De seipso, seu vita sua (Xylander, 1558)


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