Stoicism is a movement founded by Greek philosopher Zeno during the Hellenistic period (around 300 BC) that places great emphasis on virtue and living a life in accordance with nature.
Although the word “stoic” commonly refers to someone indifferent to pain, pleasure, grief, or joy, the great Stoic philosophers were definitely not indifferent to these feelings and emotions. They were thinkers and dreamers just like you and me. Marcus Aurelius, a famous Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor, once said, “Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” And Seneca once wrote, “The happy life is to have a mind that is free, lofty, fearless and steadfast—a mind that is placed beyond the reach of fear, beyond the reach of desire, that counts virtue the only good, baseness the only evil, and all else but a worthless mass of things, which come and go without increasing or diminishing the highest good, and neither subtract any part from the happy life nor add any part to it.”
Clearly stoicism as a philosophy of mind goes much deeper than just ethics, reason and logic.
In this post I’ll share 8 inspiring quotes from stoic philosophy that can lead you to a life filled with purpose and happiness.
1. Connect with the world around you.
Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one substance and one soul; and observe how all things have reference to one perception, the perception of this one living being; and how all things act with one movement; and how all things are the cooperating causes of all things that exist; observe too the continuous spinning of the thread and the structure of the web.
2. Live in the present moment.
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. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.
3. Live a life of virtue.
He who is making progress has learned that desire is for things good and that aversion is for things evil, and further, that peace and calm are only achieved as a man gets the things he wants and avoids the things he doesn’t want. Since virtue is rewarded with happiness, calm and serenity, progress towards virtue is progress towards its benefits and this progress is always a step towards perfection.
4. Harness the power of your mind.
The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.
5. Don’t get worked up over stuff that doesn’t matter.
Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them.
6. Stop caring what others think about you.
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 opinions of himself than on the opinions of others.
7. Cultivate strong relationships by doing selfless acts for people you love.
When one partner looks to his own interests alone and neglects the other’s, or (by Zeus) the other is so minded that he lives in the same house, but keeps his mind on what is outside it, and does not wish to pull together with his partner or to cooperate, then inevitably the union is destroyed, and although they live together their common interests fare badly, and either they finally get divorced from one another or they continue on in an existence that is worse than loneliness.
8. Be thankful for what you have and stop worrying about what you don’t have.
He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.
Featured photo credit: Lawrence OP via flickr.com