18 Stoic Philosophy Quotes That Can Help You Live a Better Life

The stoic philosophy is a way of living that was practiced by a lot of ancient Greek and Roman.  Tim Ferris, entrepreneur and author, and Ryan Holiday, author, have made it very popular again in today’s world.  The most important principle of the stoic philosophy is that we should not pay too much attention to things that we can’t control and focus on things that we can control.  Another principle is that we should be rational and look at things very objectively.  Let’s now learn from some of the best stoic philosophy quotes.  


“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” - William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Although Shakespeare is not one of the famous stoic philosophers from ancient Greece and Roman Empire, the above quote captures a big part of what stoicism philosophy is about.  Try this experiment.  Next time you encounter something bad in your life, try to force yourself to think about the good side.  How we think determines whether the event is good or bad.  


“I begin to speak only when I’m certain what I’ll say isn’t better left unsaid.” - Cato

If we can really only say things that aren’t better left unsaid, there would be a lot less fighting within families.  There are a lot of different books or articles that try to teach this same principle, but this quote is probably the best way to put it.  


“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own…” - Epictetus

The core principle of stoicism is summarized beautifully in the above quote.  To live is to separate things that you can control from things that you can, and then to handle well the things that you can control.  


“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?” - Epictetus

Keep working on being the best version of yourself is a very meaningful life purpose.  Along the journey of being a better and better version of yourself, you would likely be helping others, directly or indirectly.  


“Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will—then your life will flow well.” - Epictetus

Another core principle of stoicism is to see things the way the things are.  In order words, embrace reality.  


“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” - Epictetus

There are lots of books that teach people how to set goals and how to achieve them.  If the ideas are to be put in a basic form, the above quote is the result.  It basically means define the goal and pay the price to reach it.  


“Curb your desire—don’t set your heart on so many things and you will get what you need.” - Epictetus

If you want to do and try to get too many things at the same time, you are not going anywhere.  Do your most important thing well.  


“Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.”- Epictetus

Philosophy or ways to live well can’t really be taught by words unless the people you are teaching already have the seeds of the philosophy in their mind.  However, if you live according to your philosophy, people may be able to learn by imitating.  


“If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you but answer, ‘He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would have not mentioned these alone.'” - Epictetus

Don’t take it personally when people comment on you.  When someone tells you that you are bad at something, it doesn’t actually make you any better or worse at that thing.  Also, you yourself know that you have your strengths and weaknesses.  Isn’t it a normal thing that you have flaws just like everybody else?


“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more in imagination than in reality.” - Seneca

When there is something that you think you need to do but that you are afraid of doing, try to think calmly and deeply.  Ask yourself - is doing the action really that scary or is it that imagining doing the action is scary?


“If a man knows not which port he sails, no wind is favorable.” - Seneca

If you have no idea what your goal is, any work that you do is not your most efficient way to spend your time and energy.  Remember that your time is limited.  Know where you want to go and get there one step at a time.  


“No person has the power to have everything they want, but it is in their power not to want what they don’t have, and to cheerfully put to good use what they do have.” - Seneca

It’s a good thing to have goals and contribute to the world along the way of reaching your goals.  Goals are things you need to do in order to become the best version of yourself.  On the other hand, chasing stuff that doesn’t align with your life purpose is a path of feeding your ego.  


“The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength” - Marcus Aurelius

If you want to be strong, you have to be able to stand still when chaos is around you.  It’s not that you have to stand still everytime.  It’s just that you have to have the strength to make standing still an available option.  When you encounter obstacles, stand still, plan calmly, then take action according to the plan.  


“If it is not right, do not do it, if it is not true, do not say it.” - Marcus Aurelius

The above quote of Marcus Aurelius seems so simple but it’s not easy to do at all.  If you try your best to live your life accordingly, you could likely become a much better person.  


“The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.” - Marcus Aurelius

If someone verbally abuses you and then you do the same thing back, not only that it makes the two of you the same, it makes you suffer.  You can choose to change the situation, accept it or ignore it.  That’s a lesson that you can learn from Eckhart Tolle’s famous quote - “When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation, change the situation, or accept it. All else is madness.”


“It’s time you realized that you have something in you more powerful and miraculous than the things that affect you and make you dance like a puppet.” - Marcus Aurelius

Being aware is the first step to avoid being a puppet of the surrounding.  Be aware of biased stories and advertisements around you.  


“External things are not the problem. It’s your assessment of them. Which you can erase right now.” - Marcus Aurelius

In today’s world, there can be a lot of things that can trigger our emotions everyday.  Try to stop judging and you would free yourself a lot of space in your mind to do things that are meaningful to you and useful to the world.  


“Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.” - Marcus Aurelius

The next time you judge people, ask yourself, “would I be as strict to myself if I am doing the same thing?”

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