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Stoicism is considered one of the most potent and practical philosophies ever developed.
It’s an indisputable fact that we will all encounter hardships at some point in our lives. In many ways, difficulty and challenge are what enable us to grow – so instead of seeking to avoid hardship, what if we trained ourselves to handle it?
In today's post, we’ll be providing a select bunch of stoic quotes and taking a deep dive into this approach to life to help you understand it more. However, before we proceed to the quotes, let’s talk a little more about stoicism itself.
The philosophy of stoicism originates from Greece, and it is considered to be one of several dominating schools of thought from the Hellenistic period. Its popularity endures in the modern day in large part thanks to the Roman empire – which valued its approach to hardship and challenge.
Stoicism distanced itself from other philosophies by focusing on only what is integral to living a good life. The prevailing thought at the time was that pleasure is the goal of life, but the stoics believed this led to a trap of becoming enslaved to hedonistic pleasure. They offered a different idea – that virtues and trying to live up to them are the true path to a fulfilling life.
What these virtues are depends upon the individual. The Romans, for example, believed that discipline and duty were the highest virtues – but a Christian might say that charity or forgiveness are the highest virtues. The stoics themselves selected four virtues: Wisdom, Temperance, Courage, and Justice.
The stoics weren’t naive, however, and they understood that no human is perfect. This led to other ideas that stoics are well known for – like not shrinking from challenges, being indifferent to both pleasure and pain, and aiming toward self-mastery.
We have selected these quotes to help you understand how a stoic thinks and approaches life. There is, without a doubt, incredible wisdom and insights to be learned from this philosophy, and they are useful to anyone, no matter who they are.
- “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.” – Epictetus
- “The more we value things outside our control, the less control we have.” – Marcus Aurelias
- “I begin to speak only when I’m certain what I’ll say isn’t better left unsaid.” – Cato
- “Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day.” – Markus Zusak
- “You must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci
- “Make the mind tougher by exposing it to adversity.” – Robert Greene
- “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca
- “Anyone who can make you angry becomes your master” – Epictetus
- “A Stoic is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking.” – Taleb Nassim Nicholas
- “To be calm is the highest achievement of the self.” – Zen proverb
- “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor Frankl
- “The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” – Epictetus
- “How do you defeat terrorism? Don’t be terrorized.” – Salman Rushdie
- “The things you think about determine the quality of your mind.” – Marcus Aurelius
- “Regard [a friend] as loyal, and you will make him loyal.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca
- “Self-control is strength. Right thought is mastery. Calmness is power.” – James Allen
- “To be even-minded is the greatest virtue.” – Heraclitus
- “Keep your intention pure. Emotions will try to distract you. So keep going. That’s the cure.” – Maxime Lagacé
- “Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.” – Marcus Aurelius
- “We love being mentally strong, but we hate situations that allow us to put our mental strength to good use.” – Mokokoma Mokhonoana
- “A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.” – Seneca
- “When you give your items away, don’t keep the excess of your pride.” – Bremer Acosta
- “Today I escaped anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions — not outside.” – Marcus Aurelius
- “For death remembered should be like a mirror, Who tells us life’s but a breath, to trust it error.” – William Shakespeare
- “How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?” – Epictetus
- “Thoroughly convinced of the impossibility of his own suit, a high resolve constrained him not to injure that of another. This is a lover's most stoical virtue, as the lack of it is a lover's most venial sin.” – Thomas Hardy
- “Learn to be indifferent to what makes no difference.” – Marcus Aurelius
- “So it is with men too: even if they don't want to, they will be compelled to follow what is destined.” – Zeno of Citium
- “True affluence is not needing anything.” – Gary Snyder
- “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu
- “It may seem difficult at first, but all things are difficult at first.” – Miyamoto Musashi
- “Sick and yet happy, in peril and yet happy, dying and yet happy, in exile and happy, in disgrace and happy.” – Epictetus
- “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” – Thomas Jefferson
- “You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius
- “Common man's patience will bring him more happiness than common man's power.” – Amit Kalantri
- “Ill Fortune is of more use to men than Good Fortune.” – Boethius
- “Difficulty is what wakes up the genius.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief.” – Othello
- “Discomfort is the currency of success.” – Brooke Castillo
- “The good and the bad occur at all times and will keep happening. We can become lost if we go with the hype of ‘good and bad’ every time.” – Tiisetso Maloma
The good and the bad occur at all times and will keep happening. We can become lost if we go with the hype of ‘good and bad’ every time.” – Tiisetso Maloma
- “A one-talented man who decides upon a definite object accomplishes more than a ten-talented man who scatters his energies and never knows exactly what he will do.” – Orison Swett Marden
- “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” – Lao Tzu
- “The first sign of a settled mind is that it can stay in one place and spend time with itself.” – Seneca
- “We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals.” – Randy Pausch
- “Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” – Calvin Coolidge
- “Your fate has not been written until you pick up a pen.” – Dean Bokhari
- “Eternal Spirit of the chainless Mind! Brightest in dungeons, Liberty! thou art, For there thy habitation is the heart” – Lord Byron
- “Just as the earth that bears the man who tills and digs it, to bear those who speak ill of them, is a quality of the highest respect.” – Thiruvalluvar
- “A man with outward courage dares to die; a man with inner courage dares to live.” – Lao Tzu
- “Man conquers the world by conquering himself.” – Zeno of Citium
- “We’re never unhappy until we remember why we’re supposed to be unhappy.” – Daniel V Chappell
- “When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, everyone will respect you.” – Lao Tzu
- “When you master your mind, you master your thoughts, your habits, and your reactions.” – Remez Sasson
- “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.” – Viktor Frankl
- “When times are good, be grateful, and when times are tough, be graceful.” – Dustin Poirier
- “A single day among the learned lasts longer than the longest life of the ignorant.” – Posidonius
- “The man who fights for his ideals is the man who is alive.” – Miguel De Cervantes
- “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
- “The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.” – Lao Tzu
- “What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” – Tim Ferriss
- “A fit body, a calm mind, a house full of love. These things cannot be bought – they must be earned.” – Naval Ravikant
- “Intelligence consists in ignoring things that are irrelevant.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- “There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot.” – Plato
- “The best fighter is never angry.” – Lao Tzu
- “He who sweats more in training bleeds less in war.” – Greek Proverb
- “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
- “We suffer more in imagination than in reality.” – Seneca
- “Be a master of the mind, not mastered by the mind.” -Zen proverb
- “Everything will be okay in the end. If it isn’t okay, it isn’t the end.” – Paulo Coelho
- “Having the fewest wants, I am nearest to the gods.” – Socrates
- “An angry man opens his mouth and shuts his eyes.” – Cato
- “As you start to walk out on the way, the way appears.” – Rumi
- “Problems only exist in the human mind.” – Anthony de Mello
Stoicism is an ancient and powerful philosophy toward life that has been around for thousands of years in some form, and it will most likely last for thousands more. We hope that these stoic quotes start you down the path to understanding the wisdom that stoicism can offer.
In the meantime, check out these 13 strategies for overcoming adversity and personal challenges and start on the path towards mastery of your life – like the stoics of old.
And if you want more inspirational quotes, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 37 Slow Down Quotes to Enjoy Your Life
- 101 Stay Strong Quotes to Be Positive During a Crisis
- 61 Life Goes On Quotes to Move Past Hurt
Finally, if you want to use these quotes to make a lasting change to your life, then check out and recite these 57 affirmations for success.
Tom Smith is a creative writer with over 6 years of professional experience. He discovered the joy of writing after covering some furniture in his childhood home with graffiti. In later years, he got himself a BA in creative writing and hasn’t looked back. After discovering the power of positive thinking and discovering the spiritual side of life, he believes it's a huge privilege to be able to write about all things personal development.