There are many inspiring quotes to be found online, but here are five Stoic quotes that can change your life. At least they helped me turn my life around for the better. They helped me to be more confident, in touch with myself, and more at peace in general. These quotes stood the test of time, as they were written around 2000 years ago. And still, they echo through time, helping us tap into the wisdom of these brilliant minds.
This is my selection of quotes that have made an impact on me. If you have other Stoic quotes that I’ve missed, share them in the comments. If you are looking for more Stoic quotes, you can find my collection of them here: Marcus Aurelius quotes, Epictetus quotes, Seneca quotes, Cicero quotes, Michel de Montaigne quotes, and others.
5. Be comfortable alone
“The wise man is content with himself.”Seneca, Letters from a Stoic, Letter IX
This quote by Seneca comes in on five because it took some time for me to get it and see what it meant to me. One of the interesting aspects of this short sentence is the value that is packed in these few words. First of all, it reminds me of the fact that I’m not a wise man yet. Because I am not always content with myself. There is in fact a lot of work I still have to do on this front. Yet, I am seeing progress and I am finding more peace within.
What does it mean to be content with oneself? Further in this letter, Seneca mentions that the wise person doesn’t seek to be alone. Whenever there is an opportunity to have social interactions, she does not avoid them but actually prefers them.
“We say the wise man is self-content; he is so in the sense that he is able to do without friends, not that he desires to do without them.”Seneca, Letters from a Stoic, Letter IX
Family, friends, and society are in fact preferred indifferences, as we can read from this follow-up quote. By looking at it this way, one can be more critical of who to associate with, and who to go into a relationship with. Furthermore, we can be more grateful for the relationships we have in the moment. If a time of isolation is imposed on the wise person, she is able to deal with it, by finding peace and strength within herself.
4. Lift yourself up
“To stand up straight – not straightened.”Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, book 3.5
This quote ends Marcus’s reminder to himself on how to act in book 3.5. This short sentence always impacts me in several ways. And I’d like to think it did to Marcus as well. First, what it does is, it reminds me to push my back up straight. As someone who does need to mind his posture, these words always lift me up. This also shows me that I need to work on it more, as I shouldn’t be needing that reminder, as Marcus says. But for now, I still do and that’s why I’m grateful for this wise quote.
Furthermore, these words show us that our life is ours to live. We need to take responsibility for our actions. That is the way we can ensure that we are living according to our nature. Which means doing what we are supposed to do. From this premise, the quote shows us that we can rely on ourselves. If we take that idea one step further and since we are part of a society, the world can thus also rely on us. Don’t let others determine your path, it´s yours to walk.
3. Stay in reality
“There are more things, Lucilius, likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”Seneca, Moral letter to Lucilius, Book 2, Letter 13.4
Our mind plays tricks on us and Seneca lays it out to us in this famous quote of his. In this letter to Lucilius, Seneca tells his young pupil that the dangers we foresee in our minds are not as massive in the real world. As someone who was prone to overthinking, this quote helped me put things into perspective. While in my mind things were getting bigger, as they crossed my path they seemed futile or didn’t even happen at all.
There is a Stoic technique called negative visualization, which helps you prepare for the things that might occur. But the virtue of temperance plays a big role here. These thoughts shouldn’t dominate your state of being. They should give you the confidence to know that you are equipped with the tools to deal with almost every situation. So when you do get stuck in these doom and gloom thoughts, also ask yourself how you would deal with it. And as a last reminder, I tell myself that if this imagined moment were to arise, then I would deal with it in the moment. The same way as I have done with many difficult times in the past; by relying on myself and my skills as a person. And if need be, and if available, those whom I can trust around me.
2. Welcome Fate
“Do not ask things to happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go smoothly.” Epictetus, The Handbook, 8Seneca, Moral letter to Lucilius, Book 2, Letter 13.4
Enter Epictetus, with this one quote that can change your life and how you look at it. In his handbook, Arrian summarizes some of the key lessons he learned from his old Stoic master. But this one shows us the dichotomy of control, how to deal with your wants, desires, and aversions, and how to accept fate. The very end of this quote also gives us the result of living a Stoic life. If one manages to do so, their life will go smoothly. The good life is one of peace and tranquility, no matter what the situation.
Obtaining our wants and desires isn’t under our control. We can work towards them as hard as we can, but that doesn’t mean we will get them. The more we stay hung up on having to reach them, the more they will have control over us. Epictetus teaches his students here that we should wish for life to happen as it does. Which can seem like an impossible task, especially if you are going through a difficult time. But if you are able to accept the situation you are in, and in fact welcome it, then your life will be more peaceful. Here we are looking at what the sage, the wise person, would do. This is not a place where I am anywhere close to at the moment, but I have noticed some differences as I try to get better at it.
1. Be a good person
“To stop talking about what the good man is like, and just be one.”Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 10.16
It’s time for action, not words. This last of the five Stoic quotes that can change your life, ties them all together. Because we need to address how they are able to change our lives. The only way these words can make an impact is if we turn them into works. And this is what Marcus Aurelius, the emperor of Rome at the time of writing this quote, reminds himself of. Similar to another quote where he tells himself to get up out of bed, here it is even more direct.
Even in our times, we hear a lot about how we should live and be good. But very few follow up on these words. If you want these quotes to change your life, then go out and do it. There is no reason to stay stuck in books for hours, follow courses, or have coaches if you are not going to do something about it. Why this quote is on the number one spot for me, is because there are no excuses here. If you want to be the person you think you can be, then show it.
Do the things you say, and if you don’t there is no one to blame except yourself. This might sound harsh, but it is the reality. If you want to make something out of your life, don’t wait for someone to rescue you, lift yourself up. And even when you are struggling, you can still be a good person. That’s a choice.
What are your five Stoic quotes?
These five Stoic quotes changed my life. You will have others that helped you, and if you do, please share them in the comments. As there are many others that are inspirational. And if you have other takes from the ones I shared here, I would love to hear about them as well. However you look at them, their wisdom still stands today. And because of their brevity, they are easy to remember. Like Arrian, we can create our own handbook. We can carry this with us, these five quotes included, as a reminder whenever life is asking a lot from us.