99 Powerful Stoic Quotes for Personal Growth and Resilience


Benjamin Gruber


a pen on a desk with stoic quotes in a quite place with books
a pen on a desk with stoic quotes in a quite place with books

Discover the power of Stoicism with our compilation of stoic quotes on resilience and self-improvement. Immerse yourself in transformative stoic phrases and stoic quotes on resilience that inspire personal growth. These stoic quotes on self-improvement are more than words; they're a guide to living with purpose and strength.

The Resilience and Wisdom of Stoicism

Before exploring the impactful stoic quotes on resilience and stoic phrases for self-improvement, it's crucial to understand the essence of Stoicism. As Yuval Harari highlights in "21 Lessons for the 21st Century," mental resilience, a core principle of Stoicism, is increasingly vital in our AI-driven era.

Understanding Stoicism: More Than a Stoic Synonym for Emotionlessness

To the avid seeker of knowledge, Stoicism isn't just a stoic synonym for impassivity but a comprehensive philosophy. Often misunderstood, this stoic philosophy is perceived as merely a lack of emotion. However, Stoicism, rooted in ancient wisdom, is a powerful tool for self-control, resilience, and enlightenment—essential for a fulfilling life. This article aims to deepen your understanding through stoic quotes on self-improvement and resilience, transforming stoic phrases into practical tools for everyday life.

Stoicism in Business and Sports: A Guide to Resilience and Excellence

Stoicism transcends personal growth, offering significant benefits in business and sports. It teaches clear thinking and emotional regulation—crucial for entrepreneurs and professionals navigating uncertain environments. Stoic quotes on resilience are particularly relevant, fostering a mindset of productivity and continuous improvement.

In sports, stoic principles are invaluable. Athletes can harness stoic quotes on resilience to manage competition pressures, maintaining composure and humility. Stoicism values effort and personal excellence, promoting a sustainable approach to sportsmanship.

The Modern Relevance of Stoic Quotes on Resilience and Self-Improvement

In contemporary times, Stoicism has experienced a resurgence as a practical philosophy for modern challenges. Its focus on personal ethics, resilience, and rationality resonates with today's audiences. Stoic quotes on self-improvement and stoic phrases on resilience find new relevance in psychology, self-help, and leadership, making Stoicism more applicable and impactful than ever. Also, Stoic quotes on death and Stoic quotes on hard work can strengthen your resilience and shape your mind.

How was Stoicism created?

In approximately 304 BCE, Zeno, a trader by profession, experienced a life-altering event when he was shipwrecked during a commercial expedition, losing almost everything he had. Zeno of Citium eventually settled at a location known as the Stoa Poikile, which translates to "painted porch." This site, established in the 5th century BCE and whose remnants still exist over two and a half millennia later, became the central meeting point for Zeno and his followers. Initially, his adherents were referred to as Zenonians. However, in a testament to Zeno's modesty, the philosophical movement he initiated did not bear his name, a rare occurrence compared to other schools and religions of the time and before.

Zeno at the Stoa Poikile in 5th century BCE, spreading Stoic philosophy to his students
Zeno at the Stoa Poikile in 5th century BCE, spreading Stoic philosophy to his students

99 Powerful Stoic Quotes On Resilience

Marcus Aurelius Quotes On Resilience

When speaking about Stoicism, Marcus Aurelius is the ''celebrity'' in our modern lives thanks to his Meditations. But he came on the scene much later than some of his predecessors.

Marcus Aurelius, born into an influential aristocratic family in 121 CE, was well-educated in rhetoric, philosophy, and politics. Although he preferred a philosophical life, he was adopted as the successor to Emperor Antoninus Pius. He became emperor in 161 CE and ruled effectively in challenging times until his death in 180 CE. He also founded philosophical schools in Athens. His philosophical work, "Meditations," originally unpublished during his lifetime, gained significant influence after being rediscovered in the 10th century CE.

  1. From Maximus: Self-control and resistance to distractions. Optimism in adversity—especially illness. A personality in balance: dignity and grace together. Doing your job without whining. Other people’s certainty that what he said was what he thought, and what he did was done without malice. Never taken aback or apprehensive. Neither rash nor hesitant—or bewildered, or at a loss. Not obsequious—but not aggressive or paranoid either. Generosity, charity, honesty. The sense he gave of staying on the path rather than being kept on it.

    This is one of the most powerful parts of Meditations. If you try applying at least half of these virtues, your life will dramatically change, and people will perceive you as a stronger and more persuasive leader or person in your day-to-day activities.

  1. Do external things distract you? Then make time for yourself to learn something worthwhile; stop letting yourself be pulled in all directions. But make sure you guard against the other kind of confusion. People who labor all their lives but have no purpose to direct every thought and impulse toward are wasting their time—even when hard at work.

    Pay close attention to every thought, deed, or conversation you engage in with others. Scrutinize these interactions and be mindful of your emotions and the surrounding context. Success in any area of life requires not just hard work and determination, but also a clear sense of purpose and well-defined objectives. It's crucial to have a structured plan and a path to reach your ultimate goals. Mere hard work, without a strategic approach and tactical methods, is unlikely to yield the results you aspire to. As Naval Ravikant wrote: ''Forty hour workweeks are a relic of the Industrial Age. Knowledge workers function like athletes - train and sprint, then rest and reassess.''

  2. Nothing is more pathetic than people who run around in circles, “delving into the things that lie beneath” and conducting investigations into the souls of the people around them, never realizing that all you have to do is to be attentive to the power inside you and worship it sincerely. To worship it is to keep it from being muddied with turmoil and becoming aimless and dissatisfied with nature—divine and human.

    Individuals often focus more on the actions of others than on understanding their inner selves. We readily offer advice for nearly every situation, quick to dictate what is right or wrong for others. However, it's important to break away from these unhelpful habits and turn your attention inward. Allow others to lead their lives, intervening only in cases of potentially life-threatening scenarios.

  3. If you do the job in a principled way, with diligence, energy and patience, if you keep yourself free of distractions, and keep the spirit inside you undamaged, as if you might have to give it back at any moment—If you can embrace this without fear or expectation—can find fulfillment in what you’re doing now, as Nature intended, and in superhuman truthfulness (every word, every utterance)—then your life will be happy. No one can prevent that.

    Put your whole energy and soul into what you are doing—parenting, sports, work—and you will find happiness.

  4. People try to get away from it all—to the country, to the beach, to the mountains. You always wish that you could too. Which is idiotic: you can get away from it anytime you like. By going within. Nowhere you can go is more peaceful—more free of interruptions—than your own soul. Especially if you have other things to rely on. An instant’s recollection and there it is: complete tranquillity. And by tranquillity I mean a kind of harmony. So keep getting away from it all—like that. Renew yourself. But keep it brief and basic. A quick visit should be enough to ward off all < . . . > and send you back ready to face what awaits you.

    Holidays are essential for mental and physical rejuvenation, yet often they are misused as a means to flee from personal issues, much like the misuse of drugs or alcohol. Instead, it's beneficial to engage in introspection—practice meditation, maintain a journal, go for walks, exercise, and reflect on your life. Confront each challenge head-on, rather than seeking escape.

  5. Death: something like birth, a natural mystery, elements that split and recombine. Not an embarrassing thing. Not an offense to reason, or our nature.

  6. Not to live as if you had endless years ahead of you. Death overshadows you. While you’re alive and able—be good.

    Life is short quotes were the cornerstone of the Stoic philosophy. Stoics speak a lot about death to accept as a natural process. Steve Jobs once said: ''Live like today is your last day''. Make the most out of every day.

  7. You have a mind?—Yes. Well, why not use it? Isn’t that all you want—for it to do its job?

  8. The tranquillity that comes when you stop caring what they say. Or think, or do. Only what you do. (Is this fair? Is this the right thing to do?) < . . . > not to be distracted by their darkness. To run straight for the finish line, unswerving.

    When you liberate your mind from the concern of others' opinions, you'll discover a newfound freedom that significantly boosts your mindset and self-assurance. This liberation will empower you with the boldness and courage to truly be yourself.

  9. And then you might see what the life of the good man is like—someone content with what nature assigns him, and satisfied with being just and kind himself.

  10. To be like the rock that the waves keep crashing over. It stands unmoved and the raging of the sea falls still around it.

  11. So remember this principle when something threatens to cause you pain: the thing itself was no misfortune at all; to endure it and prevail is great good fortune.

  12. You’ve seen that. Now look at this. Don’t be disturbed. Uncomplicate yourself. Someone has done wrong . . . to himself. Something happens to you. Good. It was meant for you by nature, woven into the pattern from the beginning. Life is short. That’s all there is to say. Get what you can from the present—thoughtfully, justly. Unrestrained moderation.

    Resilience quotes: Jocko Willink talk about resilience and this speech from his podcast is mind-blowing: When Something is wrong or going bad, you just look at me and say, ‘Good.’ ” And I said, “Well. I mean it. Because that is how I operate.” So I explained to him that when things are going bad, there’s going to be some good that will come from it.

  13. Constant awareness that everything is born from change. The knowledge that there is nothing nature loves more than to alter what exists and make new things like it. All that exists is the seed of what will emerge from it. You think the only seeds are the ones that make plants or children? Go deeper.

    Embracing evolution necessitates change, and change is often accompanied by discomfort. It's a basic principle of nature that pushing beyond our limits, despite the pain it may bring, is essential for gaining strength and evolving.

  14. Look into their minds, at what the wise do and what they don’t.

  15. Take the shortest route, the one that nature planned—to speak and act in the healthiest way. Do that, and be free of pain and stress, free of all calculation and pretension.

  16. Things have no hold on the soul. They have no access to it, cannot move or direct it. It is moved and directed by itself alone. It takes the things before it and interprets them as it sees fit.

    Our control lies in our reactions to various situations, meaning it's not the events themselves that dictate our responses, but how we choose to react to them.

  17. The mind is the ruler of the soul.

  18. I do what is mine to do; the rest doesn’t disturb me.

  19. Alexander the Great and his mule driver both died and the same thing happened to both. They were absorbed alike into the life force of the world, or dissolved alike into atoms.

    Individuals often idolize celebrities and athletes as if they were immortal or divine beings, yet the truth is that every person has the potential for greatness. We witness extraordinary feats and mistakenly believe such abilities are unattainable. Will Smith has a Stoic mentality in himself: “Greatness is not this wonderful, esoteric, elusive, godlike feature that only the special among us will ever taste, it's something that truly exists in all of us.”

  20. Think how much is going on inside you every second—in your soul, in your body.

  21. Disgraceful: for the soul to give up when the body is still going strong.

    It's all about the mindset. You reap what you sow. If you program your mind with limitations, you will give up during the process.

  22. For a human being to feel stress is normal—if he’s living a normal human life. And if it’s normal, how can it be bad?

  23. You take things you don’t control and define them as “good” or “bad.” And so of course when the “bad” things happen, or the “good” ones don’t, you blame the gods and feel hatred for the people responsible—or those you decide to make responsible.

    Stop blaming luck, your parents, childhood, teachers or other circumstances. You can change who you are and be accountable for your life.

  24. Practice really hearing what people say. Do your best to get inside their minds.

  25. Forget the future. When and if it comes, you’ll have the same resources to draw on—the same logos.

  26. Straight, not straightened.

    This is the shortest quote, yet so powerful. Reminding us that we have to rely on ourselves to discover the untapped world.

  27. To feel affection for people even when they make mistakes is uniquely human.

  28. To love only what happens, what was destined. No greater harmony.

  29. Blame no one. Set people straight, if you can. If not, just repair the damage. And suppose you can’t do that either. Then where does blaming people get you?

  30. Give yourself a gift: the present moment.

  31. You want praise from people who kick themselves every fifteen minutes,the approval of people who despise themselves.

    The opinions of others often have a greater impact on your mindset than your own self-perceptions.

  32. Just remember: you can endure anything your mind can make endurable, by treating it as in your interest to do so.

  33. It doesn’t matter how good a life you’ve led. There’ll still be people standing around the bed who will welcome the sad event.

  34. Our inward power, when it obeys nature, reacts to events by accommodating itself to what it faces—to what is possible. It needs no specific material. It pursues its own aims as circumstances allow; it turns obstacles into fuel. As a fire overwhelms what would have quenched a lamp. What’s thrown on top of the conflagration is absorbed, consumed by it—and makes it burn still higher.

    Confront challenges with the resilience of a fierce fire that refuses to be easily extinguished. Embrace each obstacle and advance, reducing it to mere dust in your path.

Marcus Aurelius in a historical setting, symbolizing resilience and strength
Marcus Aurelius in a historical setting, symbolizing resilience and strength

Epictetus quotes

Born around 50 CE in Hierapolis, Phrygia, Epictetus was brought to Rome as a young slave. He studied philosophy under Musonius Rufus and, after gaining his freedom, taught in Rome until Emperor Domitian's expulsion of philosophers. He then founded a school in Nicopolis, Greece, where he taught Stoic philosophy until his death in the early 2nd century CE. His teachings, including public lectures, were compiled by his student Arrian in the "Discourses" and we also used quotes from ''The Golden Sayings of Epictetus Quotes''.

  1. Circumstances don't make the man, they only reveal him to himself.

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

    It's not always easy to be calm when the inner storm hits, but it's in our hands, particularly our mind, how we react to certain situations.

  3. He is a wise man who doesn't grieve for the things which he has not but rejoices for those which he has.

    We take many things for granted and regret when we lose them, but it could be late.

  4. Externals are not in my power; will is in my power. Where shall I seek the good and the bad? Within, in the things which are my own. But in what does not belong to you call nothing either good or bad.

  5. If you want anything good, get it from yourself.

    Epictetus teaches that true happiness is found within, not in external circumstances, which are beyond our control and inherently neutral. He asserts that nature provides us with the means to live a fulfilling life despite challenges. Thus, for contentment, we should focus on changing ourselves and our desires, as we can only control our perceptions and reactions to the world's events.

  6. We control our reasoned choice and all acts that depend on that moral will. What’s not under our control are the body and any of its parts, our possessions, parents, siblings, children, or country—anything with which we might associate.

  7. Passion is produced no otherwise than by a disappointment of one's desires.

    Negative feelings often originate from the discontent of not achieving what we desire. Such unfulfilled wishes are the root of sadness, complaints, and jealousy, hindering our capacity for rational thought. In essence, these adverse emotions are a result of yearning for and fearing things that are outside our sphere of control.

  8. You must know that it is no easy thing for a principle to become a man’s own, unless each day he maintain it and hear it maintained, as well as work it out in life.

    When we want to adopt a new principle or habit in our life, it's not sufficient to only know its theory, we must practice it and repeat it every day so that once it becomes an automatic principle which will be wholly embedded into our mind and soul.

  9. Desire and happiness cannot live together.

  10. Philosophy does not promise to ensure anything external to man: in another case, it would mean admitting something beyond its true object of study and matter. For in the same way that the material of the carpenter is wood, and that of the sculptor, bronze, the object of the art of living is one’s own life.

  11. In theory, it is easy to convince an ignorant person: in actual life, men not only object to offer themselves to be convinced, but hate the man who has convinced them. Whereas Socrates used to say that we should never lead a life not subjected to examination.

    This concept highlights a persuasion paradox: while it's theoretically easy to convince the uninformed, in reality, people often resist changing their beliefs and may resent those who challenge them. This resistance contrasts sharply with Socrates' wisdom, who advocated for the essential role of self-examination in life. It's a thought-provoking reminder of the importance of being open to new ideas and the value of introspection for personal growth.

  12. No labour, according to Diogenes, is good but that which aims at producing courage and strength of soul rather than of body.

  13. If a man would pursue Philosophy, his first task is to throw away conceit. For it is impossible for a man to begin to learn what he has a conceit that he already knows.

    To truly engage in Philosophy, one must first discard arrogance. Believing you already know everything prevents genuine learning.

  14. No man can rob us of our Will—no man can lord it over that!

    Our Will is invulnerable to others' control or influence – no one can dominate or take it away from us.

  15. I am by Nature made for my own good; not for my own evil.

    Think of it like this: Just like a plant is naturally made to grow and be healthy, I am naturally made to do things that are good for me, not bad for me.

No man can rob us of our Will—no man can lord it over that
No man can rob us of our Will—no man can lord it over that

Seneca quotes

Seneca the Younger, hailing from Corduba in Spain (now Córdoba) around 4 BC, was born into a prosperous and intellectual family, his father being the renowned Seneca the Elder. His destiny for prominence was shared by his brothers, Novatus, who rose to be a governor, and Mela, the father of the literary figure Lucan. Coming into the world as Augustus' reign neared its end, Seneca was a pivotal Stoic philosopher who only knew the Roman Empire, unlike his predecessors who experienced the Republic. His entire life was spent skillfully navigating the complex and often volatile dynamics of the Roman imperial court. His writings, such as ''Letters from a Stoic'' or ''On the Shortness of Life'' prevail as the essential part of Stoicism.

  1. External circumstances have very little importance either for good or for evil: the wise man is neither elated by prosperity nor depressed by adversity; for he has always endeavored to depend chiefly upon himself and to derive all his joys from himself.

    To achieve happiness, we should concentrate on the aspects we can control.

  2. Fate leads the willing and drags along the reluctant.

  3. As each day arises, welcome it as the very best day of all, and make it your own possession. We must seize what flees.

    How do you feel when you wake up? Are you eager to go to work or whatever you are working on? Do you tackle each day with enthusiasm and a growth mindset to get the most out of it? To learn new things, not to get angry easily, control your emotions, and diligently work on yourself.

  4. I will keep constant watch over myself and—most usefully—will put each day up for review. For this is what makes us evil—that none of us looks back upon our own lives. We reflect upon only that which we are about to do. And yet our plans for the future descend from the past.

    In our fast-paced world, the art of daily reflection is a powerful yet often overlooked tool for personal growth. By taking a moment each day to review our actions and decisions, we gain invaluable insights from our past experiences. This practice not only helps us avoid repeating past mistakes but also guides us in replicating our successes. As we look forward to the future, understanding and learning from our past becomes a crucial step in making mindful and intentional choices, paving the way for continuous self-improvement and a more fulfilling journey ahead.

  5. To bear trials with a calm mind robs misfortune of its strength and burden.

    Impediments are coming at us all the time. Imagine if you had a heavy backpack and it made you feel really sad and tired. But then, you learned a special trick to make it feel lighter and not so bad. That's kind of like dealing with tough times or problems with a calm and peaceful mind. When you stay calm and don't get too upset, it's like making that heavy backpack feel lighter. The problems don't go away, but they don't make you feel as sad or tired anymore.

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

  7. Everyone hurries his life on and suffers from a yearning for the future and a weariness of the present. But he who bestows all of his time on his own needs, who plans out every day as if it were his last, neither longs for nor fears the morrow.

    If you don't know where you're going, it doesn't matter how good things are around you, because you don't have a plan or a goal. What do you want to achieve in your life? What are your values? How will you get there? What's your timeline? Sit down, and write a daily journal where you can outline your goals, strategy and tactics.

  8. The velocity with which time flies is infinite, as is most apparent to those who look back.

    Another brilliant Stoic quote on the shortness of life. Often, we assume we have ample time, unaware that time is slipping away quicker than we realize. This leads us to delay tasks, believing there's always a chance to do them later.

  9. If you will pay close heed to the problem, you will find that the largest portion of our life passes while we are doing ill, a goodly share while we are doing nothing, and the whole while we are doing that which is not to the purpose.

  10. Our soul is sometimes a king, and sometimes a tyrant. A king, by attending to what is honorable, protects the good health of the body in its care, and gives it no base or sordid command. But an uncontrolled, desire-fueled, over-indulged soul is turned from a king into that most feared and detested thing—a tyrant.

    Think of your soul like it can be two different kinds of rulers: a kind king or a mean tyrant. When your soul is like a kind king, it takes care of you by making good choices that keep you healthy and happy. It doesn't tell you to do bad things. But if your soul starts wanting too many things, especially things that aren't good for you, it becomes like a mean tyrant. This kind of soul makes bad choices and can lead to trouble or unhappiness. And the best thing is you can choose which soul you want to activate.

  11. Above all, it is necessary for a person to have a true self-estimate, for we commonly think we can do more than we really can.

    Often, people believe they can do more or are better at something than they actually are. It's like thinking you can run super fast, but in reality, you can only run at a normal speed. Knowing what you can really do helps you understand yourself better. You have to be confident, but only about things you are good at. If you are realistic about your abilities, you can then focus on your weaknesses. Our ego is the enemy which doesn't like to be exposed to our shortcomings.

  12. But I shall conduct you to peace of mind by another route: if you would put off all worry, assume that what you fear may happen will certainly happen in any event; whatever the trouble may be, measure it in your own mind, and estimate the amount of your fear. You will thus understand that what you fear is either insignificant or short-lived.

    Here's a different way to chill out: pretend that the thing you're scared of is definitely going to happen. Like, you're sure you'll mess up the project, test or the game. Now, think about it seriously. How bad is it really? When you do this, you'll often find out that what you're scared of isn't as big a deal as you thought, or it won't last forever. It's like realizing that even if you don't ace the test, it's not the end of the world, or if the project or game doesn't go well, there will be other opportunities. This way, you can calm down and not stress too much.

  13. Just as the flame springs straight into the air and cannot be cabined or kept down any more than it can repose in quiet, so our soul is always in motion, and the more ardent it is, the greater its motion and activity. But happy is the man who has given it this impulse toward better things! He will place himself beyond the jurisdiction of chance; he will wisely control prosperity; he will lessen adversity, and will despise what others hold in admiration.

    This is about how our soul, or inner self, is always active and moving, just like a flame that always reaches upwards and can't be held down. When our soul is really passionate, it's even more active and lively. The cool part is, if we direct this energy and passion towards good and positive things, we become really strong. We won't be as affected by random events or luck; we'll handle good times wisely and not get too upset during bad times. Plus, we won't get caught up admiring stuff that doesn't really matter. It's like being the captain of your own ship in a big, wild ocean.

  14. All other passions you can hide away and nurse in secret, but anger thrusts itself forward and becomes visible in your features, seething all the more plainly the greater it grows.

On the Shortness of Life

  1. It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.

  1. Give me the courage to meet hardships; make me calm in the face of the unavoidable. Relax the straitened limits of the time which is allotted me. Show me that the good in life does not depend upon life's length, but upon the use we make of it; also, that it is possible, or rather usual, for a man who has lived long to have lived too little.

  2. Say to me when I lie down to sleep: "You may not wake again!" And when I have waked: "You may not go to sleep again!" Say to me when I go forth from my house: "You may not return!" And when I return: "You may never go forth again!"

  3. You are mistaken if you think that only on an ocean voyage there is a very slight space between life and death. No, the distance between is just as narrow everywhere.

  4. Death is non-existence, and I know already what that means. What was before me will happen again after me. If there is any suffering in this state, there must have been such suffering also in the past, before we entered the light of day. As a matter of fact, however, we felt no discomfort then.

    This is about understanding death as simply not existing, like how it was before we were born. The idea is that whatever non-existence is like after we die, it's the same as it was before we were born. If being non-existent is supposed to be bad or painful, then we would have experienced that pain before we were born. But we didn't feel anything bad before we were born, so we probably won't feel anything after we die either. It's like saying that before we were born and after we die, it's just a peaceful, unaware state where we don't feel anything at all.

  5. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today… The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately

  6. It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested.

    Our lives aren't really too short, but we often waste a lot of the time we have. Life is actually long enough for us to do really amazing things, but only if we use our time wisely. It's like saying we have enough money to buy something really cool, but only if we don't spend it on small, unimportant things. So, the key is to make the most of the time we have and not let it slip away on stuff that doesn't matter.

It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.
It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.

Zeno quotes

  1. Better to trip with the feet than with the tongue.

  2. The reason why we have two ears and only one mouth is so we might listen more and talk less.

    Saying something wrong or hurtful can have bigger consequences than a small physical stumble. Words can have a lasting impact, sometimes causing misunderstandings or hurt feelings that are hard to fix. When we listen more, we understand others better, learn more, and avoid speaking hastily or without thought.

  3. I admire your interest in studies so long as you stick to the genuine learning that leads to benefit and not a popular learning that leads to deformity of character. One who has a desire for philosophy and rejects pleasure’s popularity, which makes the souls of some young men womanly, is plainly heading toward nobility not only by nature but also by choice.

  4. Good playing does not depend on volume; rather, the volume depends on good playing.

    In life, this metaphor suggests that success and fulfillment don't come from just doing more or being the loudest in the room. In your personal and professional life, it's not about how many tasks you can juggle at once (volume), but how effectively and thoughtfully you handle each task (good playing). Quality over quantity is key.

  5. People shouldn’t memorize the words and phrases, as if learning a recipe or prescription, but rather focus their mind on the character of a story.

  6. That man is best of all who obeys the one who speaks well; fine in turn is the man who will figure things out on his own.

  7. Now I have had a good voyage by having a shipwreck.

The shipwreck experienced by Zeno around 304 BCE
The shipwreck experienced by Zeno around 304 BCE

Diogenes quotes

Diogenes, born at Sinope around 404–323 BC in Sinope, was a son of a banker who later moved to Athens. Influenced by Socratic philosophy through Antisthenes, a disciple of Socrates, Diogenes adopted an extreme ascetic lifestyle. He chose to live as a beggar, embracing hardship and satisfying only basic needs in the simplest manner, as a way to prepare for life's worst possibilities. Renowned for his provocative and unabashed behavior, as well as his sharp wit, Diogenes earned the nickname 'the Dog,' leading to his philosophy being termed 'Cynicism,' derived from the Greek word for dog-like. Most of what we know about him comes from anecdotes and sayings attributed to him. His philosophy influenced Stoicism, though Cynicism itself gained more followers during the Roman era, particularly among street preachers.

  1. To become a true individual and proper human being, one must turn aside from conventional society and reject all its values, to live in accordance with nature, and nature at a very basic level; otherwise one will simply remain a member of the crowd.

  2. To someone who said to him, ‘The Sinopeans have condemned you to exile’, he replied, ‘Yes, and I’ve condemned them to stay where they are.

  3. When asked where he was from, he said, ‘I’m a citizen of the world.’

  4. When asked by Aristippos what he had gained from philosophy, he replied, ‘To be rich without having an obol.’

  5. When asked who is rich among men, he replied, ‘He who is self-sufficient.’

  6. But if I drank it all, it is not only the wine that would be lost, but me too!

    When he was once at a drinking-party and was given a large helping of wine, he poured it away; and when some people reproached him, he replied like that. Alcohol or any other drug is taking away mental clarity and sometimes even the soul.

  7. It’s not that I’m out of my mind. It’s that I don’t have the same mind as you.

    We often judge people and if they don't align with our philosophy, we call them crazy or stupid. But have you realized that every person has different beliefs?

  8. When most people sing your praises, consider yourself worthy of none, and when no one praises and all condemn, that you are worthy of much.

  9. When someone asked him how one can best gain a reputation, he replied, ‘By holding reputation in contempt.’

    This quote suggests that the best way to build a strong reputation is by not overly focusing on or obsessing over it. Diogenes implies that true respect and a solid reputation come from prioritizing genuine values and actions over merely trying to look good in the eyes of others.

  10. When someone said to him, ‘Most people laugh at you’, he replied, ‘And doubtless donkeys laugh at them;* but just as they pay no heed to the donkeys, I pay none to them.’

    In the business world, this quote can be interpreted as emphasizing the importance of staying true to your own values and path, regardless of others' opinions or criticisms. When Diogenes said that he doesn't pay attention to those who laugh at him, just as they don't pay attention to donkeys laughing at them, he's highlighting a key principle: not letting external judgments or ridicule sway you from your course.

    In a business context, this means if you're confident in your strategy, vision, or approach, you shouldn't be deterred by naysayers or skeptics. Just as Diogenes disregarded the laughter of others, a successful business leader or entrepreneur often needs to maintain focus and conviction, even when faced with doubt or mockery from competitors, the market, or even within their own team. It's about having the strength to stick to your convictions and continue on your chosen path, despite external noise or criticism.

  11. When someone told him that he was pretending to be a philosopher without really being one, he replied, ‘Then I’m better than you at least in the fact that I do actually want to be one.’

    This response from Diogenes can be seen as highlighting the value of aspiration and genuine effort over mere titles or appearances. When he says that he's better for at least wanting to be a philosopher, it suggests that having the ambition and drive to become something is more commendable than falsely claiming to be something you're not.

  12. Other dogs bite their enemies, but I my friends, so as to save them.

    This quote from Diogenes can be interpreted as a metaphor for offering constructive criticism or tough love to colleagues or team members. Just as Diogenes talks about biting his friends to save them, in a professional setting, this could mean providing honest, sometimes hard-to-hear feedback to help others improve or avoid mistakes.

  13. Nothing whatever in life, can be brought to a successful conclusion without training; it is capable of overcoming anything.

  14. No one other than I myself is to blame for all these ills.

  15. True happiness is that one’s mind and soul should be perpetually at peace and in good cheer.

  16. When things came about that were unexpected and contrary to his wish, he would say, ‘Thank you, Fortune, for training me to virtue by means of such afflictions.’

  17. People pray to the gods for good health, and yet most of them consistently act in such a way as to damage their health.

  18. When someone asked how one can become a teacher to oneself, he replied, ‘By reproaching first of all in oneself those faults that one reproaches in others.’

  19. There are two kinds of training, one mental and the other bodily. Through constant physical exercise, mental impressions are produced which facilitate the realization of virtuous actions. The one kind of training cannot achieve its full effect without the other, since good health and strength belong no less among the qualities that are essentially required, both for

    the soul and for the body.

  20. When someone asked him what he had gained from philosophy, he said, ‘This, if nothing else, that I’m prepared for every fortune.’

  21. Other people lived to eat, but he ate to live.

  22. I’m getting practice in being refused.

    Diogenes' statement about getting practice in being refused can be seen as a positive approach to rejection and failure. It suggests that each time you face a refusal or a setback, you're actually gaining valuable experience and learning resilience.

    For professionals and entrepreneurs, this perspective is particularly relevant. In the business world, rejection – whether it's a declined proposal, a failed deal, or a missed opportunity – is common. Viewing these experiences as practice helps in developing a thicker skin, learning from mistakes, and refining strategies for future endeavors. It's about embracing rejection as a part of the growth process, understanding that each 'no' is a step closer to a 'yes' and an opportunity to improve.

Conclusion: The Timeless Relevance of Stoic Quotes

The wisdom of Stoic quotes lies in their timeless applicability. They teach us to embrace life's challenges with courage, to reflect on our thoughts and actions, and to find contentment in our present circumstances. By integrating these ancient insights into our modern lives, we can navigate the complexities of the 21st century with grace and poise.

They are lessons from some of the greatest minds of ancient times. As you reflect on these sayings, consider how they might apply to your own life. May these quotes inspire you to act with integrity, remain steadfast in the face of adversity, and find contentment in the simplicity of existence.

Selected Biography

Diogenes Laertius. Lives of the Eminent Philosophers. Edited and translated by Stephen White, Cambridge University Press 2020

Marcus Aurelius. Meditations. A New Translation, with an Introduction, by Gregory Hays, The Modern Library 2002

Discourses of Epictetus. Translated by George Long, New York D. Appleton and Company, 1904

Seneca. Letters from a Stoic. London: Penguin Group, 2004.

Seneca. Moral Letters to Lucilius, Volume 1. Aegitas.

Diogenes the Cynic. Sayings and Anectodes. Oxford University Press, Robin Hard, 2012

Pigliucci, Massimo. How to Be a Stoic: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Living. London: Rider, 2017.

Salzgeber, Jonas. The Little Book of Stoicism. 2019

Holiday, Ryan., and Stephen Hanselmann. The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living. New York: Portfolio, 2016.

We also wrote about the 5 Must-Read Books on Stoicism.

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