Top Stoic Quotes to Follow in Life
This article is a bit more personal than the other ones and that’s what makes it so powerful. One of the things I love to do is reading. Reading applicable knowledge, of course.
My favourite reading format quotes. I like quotes so much because they consist of powerful knowledge which gets condensed into a few simple words. What I’m going to do in this article, is grab some great stoic quotes and comment a few words on them. I will translate them in a sense. I shall show you how they can be applied to our modern lives.
Let’s get started.
Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be.
- Marcus Aurelius.
This one brings into my mind the catchy American phrase “Analysis Paralysis”. It is not beneficial to try too much to understand life. Too much philosophy will not get you anywhere.
Most of the time, it’s best to just do it. Act. Be the good man you can be for your family, friends and the world.
How long are you going to wait before you
Demand the best of yourself?
Being happy with yourself is a good thing. But being demanding with yourself is great. Demanding yourself to reach the next level does not mean that you have to be unhappy with yourself.
We as human beings have the drive and the desire to expand. But as soon as we reach a point where our lives are financially secure- a point where we have achieved the life that society has taught us to live- we stop. We stop stretching and we get comfortable. I’m not saying that it is a bad way of life, it’s just that nobody can reach their full potential unless they constantly reach for the next level.
You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you
Do and say and think.
- Marcus Aurelius
One of the favourite ideas of stoic philosophy is thinking about death in an empowering way. There will come a day when we’ll leave this world. Let that be your guide in doing the things you love. Into thinking about what’s beautiful instead of what’s stressful. Into appreciating what’s already yours.
Don’t explain your philosophy.
This one should be number one in our playbook. It simply means we should do it instead of talk. But most importantly, this quote advises us to act on our beliefs. We all have beliefs and rules. We often believe that a good person helps others. We talk with our friends about it and we get hyped.
When was the last time we did something for someone who was not able to repay us? I’m telling you, we talk too much but we don’t embody our own rules. Weirdly, everybody knows how money is made and they tell you about it but at the same time, they are financially broke.
Everybody knows what a workout should look like and they tell you about it but they are far away from eating right.
Do not be a teacher. Be a doer. Embody your philosophy.
If it is not right, do not do it.
If it is not true, do not say it.
These words revolve around virtue and novelty. Traits that are being absent these days.
It’s so difficult to apply novelty. Part of it is because it’s labelled negatively.
So, a very polite person may be misunderstood. He may be called a fool or a romantic.
And a person who is sincere and honest may be called impolite just because he tells the truth. Everybody says that they want to hear the truth and they can handle the truth. But the truth is far from it.
An honest person will often be accused of being impolite just because they’re telling the truth. Work on yourself until you get to a point where you feel comfortable being honest as well as being able to accept honesty.
Write off your hopes, and if your well-being matters to you,
Be your saviour while you can.
- Marcus Aurelius
This is a huge realization. Unfortunately, no one is coming to save you in any way. It’s not because nobody cares about you. It’s because everybody has their own life to live.
Just like you, everybody dreams. Everybody has problems to face. Everybody has to make a living for their family. Everyone has their own life to live in. Even the people who truly love you, can’t save you.
You have to respect yourself and be your saviour. Stop waiting for others to come to your aid. Instead, achieve a personality that runs to the aid of others.
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
This quote reads in a great flow and fills you with an enthusiastic feeling. However, it goes even deeper in context.
For me, preparation can happen on many levels. You can be prepared for many events and situations. Usually, we are prepared for the things we conceive as important, like our jobs.
But this quote talks about luck. What about our highest ambitions? Are you prepared for them? Are you prepared for greatness or are you waiting for a sign first? The problem is, if you’re waiting for signs to start being prepared, it may never come.
I want to be a writer. That’s my ultimate goal and dream. I want to be able to quit everything else and make a living out of writing. If I’m not willing to write even though I don’t know if I’ll ever get any income from it, I eliminate that possibility in the first place.
A major part of preparation is sharpening your corresponding skills.
We are more often frightened than hurt;
And we suffer more from imagination than from reality.
We have talked about this in my book Don’t give two shits. We often force ourselves to suffer by remembering bad events from the past or being stressed out about events that we know we’ll have to face in the future.
That’s why we need to start enjoying life and live in the present moment. All there is in this present moment. Our memory is a recording process. Our bad memories exist to let us know what went wrong. We shouldn’t be attached to them and let them control our behaviours.
As for the future, we can make plans for it but the future is never here. Time is a deal we have made to be able to communicate. So next Tuesday you have this huge meeting, the Tuesday will eventually come but the time is never Tuesday. The time is just now.
We have two ears and one mouth, so
We should listen more than we say.
- Zeno of Citium
A classic of Stoic philosophy. Talk less, listen more. Communication has become a tricky part of our lives and this quote couldn’t be more accurate. You see, people want to talk much and listen less; even when they have nothing meaningful to say.
At my age, I have come to understand that it’s better to keep what I have to say to the ones that know how to listen to me. Otherwise, there is no meaning. Sure, you can speak a lot and joke around with many of your pals but don’t do that when it comes to the important stuff.
Nobody wants to listen to you. You know, people are starting to have this huge need of being listened to. They don’t want solutions. They just want to be heard. So this can be a good way to build trust with others.
Just like others want to be listened to, I and you have that same need. But we have to resist the urge of speaking because most often, nobody cares. I wouldn’t like to waste my ideas and enthusiasm for nothing.
Just keep in mind, the more we value things
Outside of our control, the less control we have.
Another classic of Stoic philosophy. Control the things you can control and do not get depressed about situations you can’t control. I love the way Epictetus states it because he uses the word Value. We value things without realizing it. And for each thing we value, we sacrifice another thing we don’t value.
Every time we value a thing outside of ourselves more than we value ourselves, we give away our power. This is an unconscious process that’s hard to spot. Consider the following scenario:
You are in love with a beautiful girlfriend or boyfriend. You have been planning to go out with them for days and you can’t wait. You are so energetic. You are in love after all.
You call them but they say they can’t make it. They are in a hurry and they hang up the phone quickly.
What happens to you? You get shattered like glass. Your energy transforms into nervousness. You start questioning the other part. Why did they hang up like that? Are they trying to avoid me? Self-doubt comes in. Hell.
We often make the mistake of determining our value by choosing what to value. Be careful not to degrade yourself by valuing more the things that are outside of your control. You can’t control other people. You can’t control certain situations. You can only control yourself and how you react to what happens to you.
Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not;
Remember that what you now have, was once
Among the things you only hoped for.
Plain and simple appreciation and gratitude. It is a part of human evolution to always struggle to achieve and get more. Even material things are not bad if we own them and do not let them own us.
However, we have to make ourselves accountable for the degree of enjoyment we can extract from what we have. Yes, we need to expand ourselves in all aspects of life but we need to do so by appreciating what we already have and own.
I’m not necessarily talking about achievement or possessions. The most important thing you can be grateful for is your ability to breathe and be alive. Then follows all the rest.
This article has been a bit different from the other ones. A simpler and quicker read. I wish you were able to extract some great ideas out of it. These quotes have offered me great insight into myself and I have implemented them into my own life.
And that’s why I wanted you to read them and have a short explanation around them. As we already know, applicable knowledge is the true power. Start slow and implement one or two of these ideas in your own life.
Be noble, be humble and work on yourself. It’s the hardest thing you will ever work on.
Also See: The Rise of Modern Stoicism
What is the Stoic motto?
The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.”The Stoics elaborated a detailed taxonomy of virtue, dividing virtue into four main types: wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation.