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Marcus Aurelius on the pursuit of recognition

Marcus Aurelius (or Marcus Aurelius) is not only considered a kind-hearted Roman emperor (161 to 180 AD) but also, along with Seneca and Epictetus, one of the last representatives of the late Stoics. He was considered to be very prudent, in keeping with his philosophical outlook. This is also reflected in his following quote.

If you knew the source from which human opinions and interests flow, you would stop striving for people's applause and praise.

Marcus Aurelius

So let's take a closer look at what is meant by this quote.

With this quotation, Aurelius wanted to remind us that most human opinions are based only on base motives and therefore it would be obvious that the applause of their originators would not have any significant value, if only this fact was made true.

As with many things, the knowledge is not the problem, but rather the appropriate action according to the knowledge.

You certainly know a bunch of good advice and proverbs that would obviously have a good effect on you and your environment - if they were lived accordingly. But man has the tendency to shy away from effort and the correct behavior and action is usually associated with effort.

Thus it happens that substantial teachings often degenerate into a kind of platitude, because we deny them their meaning through lack of commitment.

So for Marcus Aurelius it was clear that the pursuit of recognition was, in principle, wasted energy, but he very consciously emphasized that it was of utmost importance to work on being eligible for recognition.

Here are two quotes from the Roman Emperor as an example:

"I want people to see a real man living the way he's supposed to live."

"Don't waste any more time arguing about what a good person should be. Be one."

We are therefore reminded that one is better advised to spend one's efforts on acting sincerely and not on being perceived sincerely.

Marcus Aurelius, by the way, was not the only spirit who uttered this kind of admonition. Throughout history there are similar statements. One of them was the 16th president of the United States of America, who formulated the whole thing like this:

"Don't worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition".

- Abraham Lincoln

In German, then:

"Do not worry if you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition"

I believe it is no coincidence that various successful personalities in human history have similar attitudes. Keeping this fact in mind regularly helps me to act accordingly to be a better person and brings me relief because I can do things for their own sake and not to be liked by people whose interest comes from inferior motives.

By the way, this is also a great quality, because it helps us to occupy ourselves with the right thoughts, which according to Aurelius was also extremely important:

"...from the thoughts the soul takes its color" - Marcus Aurelius

(The link will take you to Luke's article for this quote).


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