Stoicism is a philosophy founded in ancient Greece in 3rd century BC. The philosophy teaches people how to use self-control and logic to live a simpler and happier life. The conclusions reached in Stoicism are very similar to that of Buddhism.
Below is a collection of Stoic quotes taken from the likes of Seneca, Zeno of Centium, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius and many more. If you have any obstacles in your life (who doesn’t?) then these quotes may give the courage and guidance you surmount them.
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Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.
A man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things.
Man conquers the world by conquering himself.
True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.
He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.
We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.
He has the most who is content with the least.
You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.
The mind that is anxious about future events is miserable.
When someone is properly grounded in life, they shouldn’t have to look outside themselves for approval.
Only the educated are free.
If you seek Truth, you will not seek to gain a victory by every possible means; and when you have found Truth, you need not fear being defeated.
Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.
If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs you, but your own judgement about it. And it is in your power to wipe out this judgement now.
We should always be asking ourselves: “Is this something that is, or is not, in my control?”
Let us meet with bravery whatever may befall us. Let us never feel a shudder at the thought of being wounded or of being made a prisoner, or of poverty or persecution.
Remember: Matter. How tiny your share of it. Time. How brief and fleeting your allotment of it. Fate. How small a role you play in it.
It’s something like going on an ocean voyage. What can I do? Pick the captain, the boat, the date, and the best time to sail. But then a storm hits… What are my options? I do the only thing I am in a position to do, drown — but fearlessly, without bawling or crying out to God, because I know that what is born must also die.
Floods will rob us of one thing, fire of another. These are conditions of our existence which we cannot change. What we can do is adopt a noble spirit, such a spirit as befits a good person, so that we may bear up bravely under all that fortune sends us and bring our wills into tune with nature’s.
Asia and Europe: distant recesses of the universe. The ocean: a drop of water. Mount Athos: a molehill. The present: a split second in eternity. Minuscule, transitory, insignificant.
Take a lyre player: he’s relaxed when he performs alone, but put him in front of an audience, and it’s a different story, no matter how beautiful his voice or how well he plays the instrument. Why? Because he not only wants to perform well, he wants to be well received — and the latter lies outside his control.
Cling tooth and nail to the following rule: not to give in to adversity, never to trust prosperity, and always take full note of fortune’s habit of behaving just as she pleases, treating her as if she were actually going to do everything it is in her power to do. Whatever you have been expecting for some time comes as less of a shock.
Whatever happens to you has been waiting to happen since the beginning of time. The twining strands of fate wove both of them together.
[It is] like seeing roasted meat and other dishes in front of you and suddenly realising: This is a dead fish. A dead bird. A dead pig. Or that this noble vintage [wine] is rotted grapes… perceptions like that... latching onto things and piercing through them, to see what they really are… to strip away the legend that encrusts them.”