Balance Tolerance & Self-Discipline: Mastering Life with Marcus Aurelius

Unpack the relevance of Marcus Aurelius' guidance in today's world, highlighting the need for empathy and self-improvement for a fulfilling life.

Balance Tolerance & Self-Discipline: Mastering Life with Marcus Aurelius

Sunday November 12, 2023,

2 min Read

"Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself." This timeless quote from Marcus Aurelius, the Stoic philosopher and Roman Emperor, encapsulates a profound wisdom that remains as relevant today as it was in ancient times. Aurelius, known for his philosophical work "Meditations," offers a guideline for personal conduct that balances self-discipline with compassion towards others. This article explores the depth and contemporary relevance of this simple yet powerful admonition.

The Essence of Tolerance and Self-Discipline

At its core, Aurelius' advice calls for a dual approach to life: cultivating tolerance towards others while practicing strict self-discipline. Tolerance here is not mere passive acceptance but an active effort to understand, respect, and forgive the flaws and differences of others. It's about recognizing that everyone, including ourselves, is a work in progress, battling their own challenges and limitations.

Conversely, being strict with oneself doesn't imply self-punishment or harshness. Instead, it's about holding oneself accountable, striving for personal growth, and not allowing self-indulgence or complacency. This aspect of the quote underscores the importance of self-regulation and the pursuit of virtue, central themes in Stoic philosophy.

Relevance in the Modern Context

In a world increasingly polarized and intolerant, Aurelius' words offer a much-needed perspective. Tolerance is a crucial ingredient for social harmony and understanding. It fosters an environment where diverse ideas and beliefs can coexist, leading to richer, more inclusive communities.

Similarly, in an age of instant gratification and external validation, the call to be strict with oneself is ever more pertinent. It's a reminder to focus on inner growth and self-improvement, rather than seeking approval or comparing oneself with others.

Implementing Aurelius' Wisdom

How, then, can one live out this wisdom in everyday life? Practicing tolerance could mean actively listening to others, being open to different viewpoints, and showing empathy. It involves recognizing our own biases and working to overcome them.

Being strict with oneself can take the form of setting personal goals, maintaining discipline in daily routines, and being honest with oneself about areas needing improvement. It's about taking responsibility for one's actions and constantly striving to be a better person.

Marcus Aurelius' counsel to be "tolerant with others and strict with yourself" is a timeless principle that promotes balance and growth. By embracing tolerance, we cultivate a more compassionate and understanding world. Simultaneously, by being strict with ourselves, we foster personal integrity and resilience.