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Summarised Stoic Teachings and Quotes

Summarised Stoic Teachings and Quotes#

Marcus Aurelius#

I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.

Think of the life you have lived until now as over and, as a dead man, see what’s left as a bonus and live it according to Nature.

It can ruin your life only if it ruins your character. Otherwise, it cannot harm you — inside or out.

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.

Today I escaped anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions — not outside.

You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.

In a little while you will have forgotten everything; in a little while everything will have forgotten you.

The tranquility that comes when you stop caring what they say. Or think, or do. Only what you do.

Choose not to be harmed — and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed — and you haven’t been.

Focus on what nature demands, as if you were governed by that alone. Then do that, and accept it, unless your nature as a living being would be degraded by it.

Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter.

If it is not right, do not do it, if it is not true, do not say it.

Is a world without pain possible? Then don’t ask the impossible.

Learn to be indifferent to what makes no difference

  1. The obstacle is the way
  2. Be strict with yourself, tolerant with others
  3. You don’t have to have an opinion
  4. You could leave life right now—let that determine what you do, say, and think

There is never a need to get worked up about things you can’t control


“Don’t hope that events will turn out the way you want, welcome events in whichever way they happen: this is the path to peace.”

Books are the training weights of the mind

When someone is properly grounded in life, they shouldn’t have to look outside themselves for approval.

The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things.

Anything or anyone capable of angering you becomes your master

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters

Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily

There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will

Try to enjoy the great festival of life with other men

It is difficulties that show what men are

He who laughs at himself never runs out of things to laugh at


The willing are led by fate, the reluctant dragged

Victor Frankl#

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way


Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.


The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief.

Seneca the Younger#

They lose the day in expectation of the night, and the night in fear of the dawn.

You will find no one willing to share out his money; but to how many does each of us divide up his life!

How does it help…to make troubles heavier by bemoaning them?

If a man knows not which port he sails, no wind is favorable.

This is our big mistake: to think we look forward to death. Most of death is already gone. Whatever time has passed is owned by death.

It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor

It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters.

Floods will rob us of one thing, fire of another. These are conditions of our existence which we cannot change.

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness

Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body

As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters

Wealth is the slave of the wise. The master of the fool.

The mind that is anxious about future events is miserable

We suffer more often in imagination than in reality

The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.

Gaius Musonius Rufus#

Shannon Alder#

Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in.


Man conquers the world by conquering himself.


No human thing is of serious importance

Ed Latimore#

Be so busy building your own life that other people’s… is of no concern


The Stoics said we shouldn’t waste our precious time…

...worrying about other people’s opinions
...judging other people
...putting things off to the future
...holding onto the past
...arguing with reality
...thinking you are going to live forever

The Backwards Law - Stop Trying to get it and you will get it#

  • It is difficult to get rid of a thought by force
  • Dissatisfaction from life with negative emotions - the more you try be less dissatisfied the more dissatisfied you become
  • Trying to be happy - trying to be content - is exactly the reason you aren’t
  • Willpower and effort is something useful in the external world - getting money, improving fitness
  • What is happiness? Is it something we acquire from material things or love.
  • Alan Watts: 1. you don’t know what you want, you never can 2. you have it
  • Fire doesn’t burn itself, a knife cannot cut itself
  • The human predicament is a delusion stating that changing external things and circumstances: objects, money, adjustments of the body and changes of scenery. The backwards law tells us the opposite is the case.
  • Pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it
  • The will to live
  • The mind perceives that the present moment is not enough - we try to escape what is into situations perceived as more pleasurable. Thus ever keen pleasure is an error and an illusion for no attained wish can give lasting satisfaction - Arthur Schopenhauer
  • Negation of the will
  • Accept - do not fight. If you fight you suffer twice.
  • When trying to fall asleep - forcing yourself makes it harder - only when you stop trying does it work.
  • Life is not a problem to be solved - but a reality to be experienced

Alan Watts - Meditation and Stop Talking to Yourself#

Mediation - shut up - be interiorly silent. Cease from the internal chatter in our skulls - we think compulsively.

If you are thinking all the time (talking to yourself) - you do not hear what anyone else has to say. You are not in a relationship with reality.

The purpose of music is not to get to the end - there is no destination. The journey itself is the reason. Mediation is the reason - the point of life is in the immediate moment. If you are looking to improve - you have your eye on the future. An eternal now. It must be fun.

Death is going to sleep and never waking up. The ego is a designed function of the brain - a radar looking for problems but finding yourself. Your organism is part of everything else - you are shining the sun.