Stoicism emerged as a Hellenistic religion, founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens. It had the influence of Socrates and the Cynics. Stoicism migrated from Greece to Rome, where it has flourished under the emperors, most of all Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
Stoicism is a form of virtue ethics, that asserts the practice of virtue as both necessary and sufficient to attain eudaimonia or happiness. Stoicism is a philosophy that was intended to be applied to daily life and to be practiced by the royals as well as the commoners.
Stoic Quotes On Life And Happiness
These quotes on life and happiness by four of the most famous ancient Stoics will help you navigate earnestly and spiritedly through the uncertain waves of life, with calmness, courage, and insight.
Try to enjoy the great festival of life with other men! — Epictetus
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. — Seneca
If what you have seems insufficient to you, then though you possess the world, you will yet be miserable. — Seneca
Today I escaped anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions — not outside. — Marcus Aurelius
Just keep in mind: the more we value things outside our control, the less control we have. — Epictetus
How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself and in no instance bypass the discriminations of reason? You have been given the principles that you ought to endorse, and you have endorsed them. What kind of teacher, then, are you still waiting for in order to refer your self-improvement to him? — Epictetus
There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will. — Seneca
Set aside a certain number of days during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while, ‘Is this the condition that I feared?’ — Seneca
It is impossible that happiness, and yearning for what is not present, should ever be united. — Epictetus
If one takes away riches from the wise man, one leaves him still in possession of all that is his: for he lives happy in the present, and without fear for the future. — Seneca
If it is not right, do not do it, if it is not true, do not say it. — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
One ought to seek out virtue for its own sake, without being influenced by fear or hope, or by any external influence. Moreover, that in that does happiness consist. — Zeno of Citium
Circumstances don’t make the man, they only reveal him to himself. — Epictetus
A man may be called ‘happy’ who, thanks to reason, has ceased either to hope or to fear: but rocks also feel neither fear nor sadness, nor do cattle, yet no one would call those things happy which cannot comprehend what happiness is. — Seneca
Life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future. — Seneca
God did not intend my happiness to rest with someone else. — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
What is the point of dragging up sufferings that are over, of being miserable now, because you were miserable then? — Seneca
No one can be styled happy who is beyond the influence of truth: and consequently a happy life is unchangeable, and is founded upon a true and trustworthy discernment; for the mind is uncontaminated and freed from all evils only when it is able to escape not merely from wounds but also from scratches, when it will always be able to maintain the position which it has taken up, and defend it even against the angry assaults of Fortune. — Seneca
The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts. — Marcus Aurelius
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
You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength. — Marcus Aurelius
If you really want to escape the things that harass you, what you’re needing is not to be in a different place but to be a different person. — Seneca
What upsets people is not things themselves, but their judgments about these things. — Epictetus
The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things. — Epictetus
That man is happy, whose reason recommends to him the whole posture of his affairs. — Seneca
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
You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire. — Seneca
For a man can lose neither the past nor the future; for how can one take from him that which is not his? So remember these two points: first, that each thing is of like form from everlasting and comes round again in its cycle, and that it signifies not whether a man shall look upon the same things for a hundred years or two hundred, or for an infinity of time; second, that the longest-lived and the shortest-lived man, when they come to die, lose one and the same thing. — Marcus Aurelius
Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life. — Seneca
It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own. — Marcus Aurelius
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is already within yourself, your way of thinking. — Marcus Aurelius
If virtue promises happiness, prosperity and peace, then progress in virtue is progress in each of these for to whatever point the perfection of anything brings us, progress is always and approach toward it. — Epictetus
[Here’s a list of the Best Books On Stoicism For Beginners (5 of them free).]
Stoicism has had an extensive, yet mostly unsung influence on Western philosophical thought throughout the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and into modern times. (Long, 2003)
Do you know why the Stoics talked of Memento Mori—a phrase that made them live a life of the highest good?
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy – a medical doctor, psychology writer, happiness researcher. Founder of Happiness India Project, and chief editor of its blog. He writes popular science articles on positive psychology and related medical topics.
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