Throughout Meditations Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius encourages us to maintain an even temperament, especially in our interactions with others. He focuses on the idea that we will see the world as we choose to see it, with positives and negatives projected onto the world by our own mind. Aurelius believes that our opinions shape the reality of the world around us, and he writes about ways that we can take control of our thought process to change our opinions and perspectives. This is clear in his writing of other people and our interactions with others,
“Suppose any man shall despise me. Let him look to that himself. But I will look to this, that I be not discovered doing or saying anything deserving of contempt. Shall any man hate me? Let him look to it. But I will be mild and benevolent towards every man, and ready to show even him his mistake, not reproachfully, nor yet as making a display of my endurance, but nobly and honestly.”
In this quote he is showing how important it is to look toward all people with an attitude of brotherhood and unity. When we accept and recognize that we are all connected then we see that the best way to move forward would be to work together and to lift everyone in our actions. Looking for the negative and hypocritical in others is not productive, but developing into the person who can lead a group with clear focus will help guide the change we want to see.
Aurelius is encouraging us to abandon our reliance on the opinions of others and to develop strong personal thoughts about ourselves. He is not simply encouraging us to be self-confident or even to hold fast to our opinions, but rather to let other people’s opinions of us remain separate from how we act toward others. By treating everyone well and avoiding grudges we can be more open toward those around us. Constantly checking to see if we have been harmed by another will be exhausting, and will also build barriers between us and people in our lives.