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  • The Wisdom of Stoicism: 100 Powerful Stoic Quotes to Live By

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December 9, 2023

With roots in Ancient Greece, Stoicism is a philosophy for achieving a life of wisdom, inner peace, and contentment. It emerged around 300 BC in Athens, founded by Zeno of Citium.

While distinct from mindfulness, Stoicism holds ancient wisdom that can inspire those walking a mindful path today. Amongst other things, it reminds us to live in alignment with nature and to anchor ourselves in the present moment.

In this article, we will highlight 100 stoic quotes attributed to philosophers like Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius. May these stoic philosophy quotes inspire you on your personal journey through life.

stoic quotes, The Wisdom of Stoicism: 100 Powerful Stoic Quotes to Live By

What Are Stoicism's Key Principles, and How Are They Reflected in Stoic Quotes?

To better understand what Stoicism is all about, we can consider its cardinal virtues and other guiding principles. This philosophical school of thought identified four cardinal virtues: wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance. Within these overarching virtues, we can find subdivisions, including but not limited to good sense, confidence, discipline, and honesty. 

Another Stoic teaching that is very relevant to those on a mindful journey is acceptance. Stoicism teaches us to focus our attention on what we can control in life and accept (or relinquish attempts to control) the things we cannot. Emotional awareness, self-control, and overcoming desires that contribute to our suffering are also part of the heart of Stoicism.

These principles (and others in alignment with Stoic philosophy) are found imbedded within the stoicism quotes below. These words of wisdom remind us to align our thoughts and actions with virtue, intention, self-awareness, and other key contributors to a fulfilling life.

100 Stoicism Quotes for Everyday Life

Epictetus Quotes:

  • "It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters."
  • "Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control."
  • “I cannot escape death, but at least I can escape the fear of it.”
  • "He who laughs at himself never runs out of things to laugh at."
  • "Don't explain your philosophy. Embody it."
  • "Know, first, who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly."
  • "A ship should not ride on a single anchor, nor life on a single hope."
  • "The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you."
  • "First, say to yourself what you would be, and then do what you have to do."
  • “There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will.”
  • "Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants."
  • "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."
  • "You become what you give your attention to."
  • "It is the nature of the wise to resist pleasures, but the foolish to be a slave to them."
  • "The more we value things outside our control, the less control we have."
  • "Nothing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig."
  • "Difficulties show a person's character.."
  • "Nature hath given men one tongue but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak."
  • “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of things."
  • "When someone is properly grounded in life, they shouldn't have to look outside themselves for approval."
  • “Settle on the type of person you want to be and stick to it, whether alone or in company.”
  • "When you are offended at any man's fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger."
  • "Seek not that the things which happen should happen as you wish; but wish the things which happen to be as they are, and you will have a tranquil flow of life."
  • "Practice yourself, for heaven's sake, in little things; and thence proceed to greater."
  • “Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.”
  • “Circumstances don't make the man, they only reveal him to himself.”
  • "First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak."
  • "He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has."
stoic quotes, The Wisdom of Stoicism: 100 Powerful Stoic Quotes to Live By

Seneca Quotes

  • "We suffer more often in imagination than in reality."
  • “Ignorance is the cause of fear.”
  • "Cease to hope and you will cease to fear."
  • “A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.”
  • "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."
  • "To be everywhere is to be nowhere."
  • “The difficulty comes from our lack of confidence.”
  • "It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult."
  • "Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life."
  • "What really ruins our character is the fact that none of us looks back over his life."
  • "The greatest remedy for anger is delay."
  • “If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favourable.”
  • "The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately."
  • "He who is brave is free."
  • “It is in no man's power to have whatever he wants, but he has it in his power not to wish for what he hasn't got, and cheerfully make the most of the things that do come his way.”
  • "Wealth is the slave of a wise man. The master of a fool."
  • "No man was ever wise by chance."
  • "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 that 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."
  • "The greatest wealth is a poverty of desires."
  • "Associate with people who are likely to improve you."
  • "Life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future."
  • "True happiness is... to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future."
  • "Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury that provokes it."
  • "A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials."
  • "It is not the man who has too little that is poor, but the one who hankers after more."
  • "The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today."
  • "Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labour does the body."
  • “How much better to heal than seek revenge from injury.”
  • “The mind that is anxious about future events is miserable.”
  • “Only time can heal what reason cannot.”
  • “While we are postponing, life speeds by.”

Marcus Aurelius Quotes

  • "Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one."
  • "Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking."
  • “Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”
  • "In your actions, don't procrastinate. In your conversations, don't confuse. In your thoughts, don't wander. In your soul, don't be passive or aggressive."
  • "The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts."
  • "The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury."
  • “How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.”
  • "Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together."
  • "Our life is what our thoughts make it."
  • "The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts."
  • "The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way."
  • "The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane."
  • "You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength."
  • "Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature's delight."
  • "The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it."
  • "Nothing happens to anybody which he is not fitted by nature to bear."
  • "The best way to avenge yourself is to not be like that."
  • "Be content with what you are, and wish not change; nor dread your last day, nor long for it."
  • “Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”
  • “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
  • “The best answer to anger is silence.”
  • “Confine yourself to the present.”
  • “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
  • “Each day provides its own gifts.”
  • “Give yourself a gift: the present moment.”
stoic quotes, The Wisdom of Stoicism: 100 Powerful Stoic Quotes to Live By

Zeno of Citium Quotes

  • "The goal of life is living in agreement with nature."
  • "Well-being is realized by small steps, but is truly no small thing."
  • "Happiness is a good flow of life."
  • “Better to trip with the feet than with the tongue.”
  • “Man conquers the world by conquering himself.”
  • “Nothing is more hostile to a firm grasp on knowledge than self-deception.”
  • “All things are parts of one single system, which is called nature; the individual life is good when it is in harmony with nature.”
  • “Fate is the endless chain of causation, whereby things are; the reason or formula by which the world goes on.”
  • “Extravagance is its own destroyer.”
  • "A bad feeling is a commotion of the mind repugnant to reason, and against nature."

More Stoic Quotes

  • “He needs little who desires but little.” Cleanthes 
  • “The Fates lead the willing, but drag the unwilling.” Cleanthes 
  • “He has his wish, whose wish can be to have what is enough.” Cleanthes 
  • “Thought is the fountain of speech.” Chrysippus
  • “Living virtuously is equal to living in accordance with one's experience of the actual course of nature.” Chrysippus
  • "He with the most who is content with the least." Diogenes

How to Incorporate Stoic Quotes in Your Daily Life

The above list is a compilation of some of the best stoic quotes. But how can we make use of them? How can these words serve to uplift and inspire our everyday life? Consider these three ways of using daily stoic quotes:

  • Journal Practice: Each day, choose a stoic quote that inspires you. Write it at the top of a new page in your journal and then write about what it means to you. Why did you choose it for this day?
  • Bedtime Practice: Stoic quotes on life can be read once you’ve crawled into bed, helping to enlighten and expand the mind prior to sleep. You can also choose your favorite amongst the short stoic quotes to repeat to yourself a few times once you’ve turned off the light.
  • Morning Inspiration: When you wake in the morning, read through this list. Is there any particular stoicism quote that stands out to you? Let it be your guiding light for the day. Come back to it as often as needed.
stoic quotes, The Wisdom of Stoicism: 100 Powerful Stoic Quotes to Live By

What Makes Stoic Quotes Valuable in Modern Life?

Many Stoic quotes carry a timeless wisdom that continues to have relevance in modern times. Though Stoicism emerged a very long time ago, virtues and principles such as courage, wisdom, and discipline transcend the boundaries of time.

We live in a time of immense external pressure and constant distractions at our fingertips. Perhaps now more than ever we need these ancient reminders to come back to the fundamentals of what makes for a virtuous and fulfilling life. There is no shortage of challenges in this modern world. Stoicism can provide inspiration to meet those challenges with presence, equanimity, and courage.

Summing up

We can turn to words of wisdom to uplift and guide our spirits as we navigate the difficulties of modern living. Stoic quotes are just one of many wisdom philosophies that we can tap into to help illuminate a grounded, fulfilling path ahead.

Use these quotes in any way that feels natural to you. Come back to this list as a source of guidance and inspiration whenever you need to. May this ancient wisdom infuse itself into this modern, often challenging, and ever-changing world that we live in.

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About the author 

Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]