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Quotations: Stoicism & Stoics

Complain About Nothing But Yourself

Stoicism Quotations to Help You Cope & Live Sanely

“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this and you find strength.” ―Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Quotations from Various Sources

Organized Alphabetically

“A man ought to be seen by the gods neither dissatisfied with anything nor complaining.” —Marcus Aurelius

“A man’s as miserable as he thinks he is.” —Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“Adorn thyself with simplicity and modesty and with indifference towards the things which lie between virtue and vice.” —Marcus Aurelius

“And consider if magnanimity, freedom, simplicity, equanimity, piety, are not more agreeable.” —Marcus Aurelius

“And then, examine it by those rules which you have, and find, and chiefly by this: whether it concerns the things which are in our control, or those which are not; and if it concerns anything not in our control, be prepared to say that is nothing to you.” —Epictetus

“Anger is like those ruins which smash themselves on what they fall.” —Seneca

“Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.” —Epictetus

“As the sense of pain is a characteristic of weakness, so also is anger.” —Marcus Aurelius

“As was his language, so was his life.” —Seneca

“Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.” —Marcus Aurelius

“But do not of your own accord make your troubles heavier to bear and burden yourself with complaining.” —Seneca

“But if anything in thy own disposition gives thee pain, who hinders thee from correcting thy opinion?” —Marcus Aurelius

“But I, unless I think that what has happened is an evil, am not injured. And it is in my power not to think so.” —Marcus Aurelius

“Character is destiny.” —Heraclitus

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

“Consider how much more pain is brought on us by the anger and vexation caused by such acts than by the acts themselves, at which we are angry and vexed.” —Marcus Aurelius

“Curb your desire—don’t set your heart on so many things and you will get what you need.” —Epictetus

“Do not seek for things to happen the way you want them to; rather, wish that what happens, happens the way it happens: then you will be happy.” —Epictetus

“Do not seek to bring things to pass in accordance with your wishes, but wish for them as they are, and you will find them.” —Epictetus

“Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.” —Epictetus

“Don’t regard what anyone says of you, for this, after all, is no concern of yours.” —Epictetus, Enchiridion

“Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will—then your life will flow well.” —Epictetus

“Each day provides its own gifts.” —Marcus Aurelius

“Enjoy present pleasures in such a way as not to injure future ones.” —Seneca

“Every night before going to sleep, we must ask ourselves: what weakness did I overcome today? What virtue did I acquire?” —Seneca

“Fire tests gold, suffering tests brave men.” —Seneca

“First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.” —Epictetus

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” —Epictetus

“For he who yields to pain and he who yields to anger, both are wounded, and both submit.” —Marcus Aurelius

“For if thou canst, correct that which is the cause; but if thou canst not do this, correct at least the thing itself; but if thou canst not do even this, of what use is it to thee to find fault.” —Marcus Aurelius

“For who is he that shall hinder thee from being good and simple?” —Marcus Aurelius

“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.” —Epictetus, The Art of Living

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” —Epictetus

“He who fears death will never do anything worthy of a man who is alive.” —Seneca

“His own character is the arbiter of everyone’s fortune.” —Publius Syrus (42 B.C.)

“How does it help…to make troubles heavier by bemoaning them?” —Seneca

“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best of yourself?” —Epictetus

“How much more damage anger and grief do than the things that cause them?” —Marcus Aurelius

“I begin to speak only when I’m certain what I’ll say isn’t better left unsaid.” —Cato

“I judge you unfortunate because you have never lived through misfortune. You have passed through life without an opponent—no one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you.” —Seneca

“If a man knows not for which port he sails, no wind is favorable.” —Seneca

“If a person gave away your body to some passerby, you’d be furious. Yet, you hand over your mind to anyone who comes along, so they may abuse you, leaving it disturbed and troubled—have you no shame in that?” —Epictetus

“If anyone can refute me—show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective—I’ll gladly change. It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone.” —Marcus Aurelius

“If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you but answer, ‘He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would have not mentioned these alone.’” —Epictetus

“If anyone can refute me—show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective—I’ll gladly change. It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone.” —Marcus Aurelius

“If evil be said of thee, and if it be true, correct thyself; if it be a lie, laugh at it.” —Epictetus

“If it is not right, do not do it, if it is not true, do not say it.” —Marcus Aurelius

“If my body is enslaved, still my mind is free.” —Sophocles

“If thou art pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs thee, but thy own judgment about it.” —Marcus Aurelius

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it: and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” —Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (121–180), Roman philosopher and emperor

“If you desire any of the things which are not in your own control, you must necessarily be disappointed.” —Epictetus

“If you do not wish to be prone to anger, do not feed the habit; give it nothing which may tend to its increase.” —Epictetus

“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.” —Epictetus

“If you wish for anything which belongs to another, that which is your own is lost.” — Epictetus

“If you would escape your troubles, you need not another place but another personality.” —Seneca

“In your actions, don’t procrastinate. In your conversations, don’t confuse. In your thoughts, don’t wander. In your soul, don’t be passive or aggressive. In your life, don’t be all about business.” —Marcus Aurelius

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” —Epictetus

“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” —Epictetus

“It is not men’s acts which disturb us, for those acts have their foundation in men’s ruling principles, but is our own opinions which disturb us.” —Marcus Aurelius

“It is not the man who has too little that is poor, but the one who hankers after more.” —Seneca

“It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable.” —Seneca

“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.” —Marcus Aurelius

“Keep your attention focused entirely on what is truly your own concern, and be clear that what belongs to others is their business and none of yours.” —Epictetus

“Learn to be indifferent to what makes no difference.” —Marcus Aurelius

“Let not your mind run on what you lack as much as on what you have already.” —Marcus Aurelius

“Life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future.” —Seneca

“Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.” —Epictetus

“Men are born for each other so either each or tolerate.” —Marcus Aurelius

“Men are disturbed not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things.” —Epictetus

“Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.” —Epictetus, Greek Stoic philosopher

“Moreover, the child of parents who have a bad relationship will be unfilial. This is natural. Even the birds and beasts are affected by what they are used to seeing and hearing from the time they are born. Also, the relationship between father and child may deteriorate because of a mother’s foolishness. A mother loves her child above all things, and will be partial to the child that is corrected by his father. If she becomes the child’s ally, there will be discord between father and son. Because of the shallowness of her mind, a woman sees the child as her support in old age.” ―Tsunetomo Yamamoto, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

“Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power.” —Seneca

“Never say of anything that I have lost it, only say that I have given it back.” —Epictetus

“No person has the power to have everything they want, but it is in their power not to want what they don’t have, and to cheerfully put to good use what they do have.” —Seneca

“Nor, again, can the will be right without a right attitude of mind; for this is the source of will.” —Seneca

“Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.” —Epicurus

“Nothing can provoke one’s anger if one does not add to one’s pile of troubles by getting angry.” —Seneca

“Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well-ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company.” —Seneca

“Other people’s views and troubles can be contagious. Don’t sabotage yourself by unwittingly adopting negative, unproductive attitudes through your associations with others.” —Epictetus

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” —Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Meditations, Book IV

“People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.” —Seneca

“Practice is everything.” —Periander, Lives of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laërtius [misquoted as “practice makes perfect”]

“Practice then from the start to say to every harsh impression, ‘You are an impression, and not at all the thing you appear to be.’ Then examine it and test it by these rules you have, and firstly, and chiefly, by this: whether the impression has to do with the things that are up to us, or those that are not; and if it has to do with the things that are not up to us, be ready to reply, ‘It is nothing to me.’” —Epictetus

“Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily.” —Epictetus

“Put from you the belief that ‘I have been wronged,’ and with it will go the feeling. Reject your sense of injury, and the injury itself disappears.” —Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Meditations, Book IV

“Receive without pride, let go without attachment.” —Marcus Aurelius

“Remember that it is not he who reviles you or strikes you, who insults you, but it is your opinion about these things as being insulting. When then a man irritates you, you must know that it is your opinion which has irritated you.” —Epictetus, Enchiridion

“Resolve to dismiss thy judgment about an act as if it were something grievous and thy anger is gone.” —Marcus Aurelius

“Rule your mind or it will rule you.” —Horace, Roman poet

“Self-command is the greatest command of all.” —Seneca

“Sickness is a hindrance to the body, but not to your ability to choose, unless that is your choice. Lameness is a hindrance to the leg, but not to your ability to choose. Say this to yourself with regard to everything that happens, then you will see such obstacles as hindrances to something else, but not to yourself.” —Epictetus, Enchiridion

“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” —Seneca

“Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of thy mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts.” —Marcus Aurelius

“Take away thy opinion, and then there is taken away the complaint.” —Marcus Aurelius

“That which is evil to thee and harmful has its foundation only in the mind.” —Marcus Aurelius

“That’s why the philosophers warn us not to be satisfied with mere learning, but to add practice and then training. For as time passes we forget what we learned and end up doing the opposite, and hold opinions the opposite of what we should.” —Epictetus

“The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.” —Marcus Aurelius

“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own.” —Epictetus

“The condition and characteristic of a vulgar person is that he never expects either benefit or hurt from himself, but from externals. The condition and characteristic of a philosopher is that he expects all hurt and benefit from himself.” —Lucretius

“The greatest remedy for anger is delay.” —Seneca

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts, therefore guard accordingly; and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue, and reasonable nature.” —Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

“The gods have released you from accountability for your parents, your siblings, your body, your possessions—for death and for life itself. They made you responsible only for what is in your power—the proper use of impressions. So why take on the burden of matters which you cannot answer for? You are only making unnecessary problems for yourself.” —Epictetus

“The mind is never right but when it is at peace with itself.” —Seneca

“The misfortune of the wise is better than the prosperity of the fool.” —Epicurus

“The origin of sorrow is this: to wish for something that does not come to pass.” —Epictetus, Discourses

“The proper work of the mind is the exercise of choice, refusal, yearning, repulsion, preparation, purpose, and assent. What then can pollute and clog the mind’s proper functioning? Nothing but its own corrupt decisions.” —Epictetus, Discourses, 4.11.6-7

“The things you really need are few and easy to come by; but the thing you can imagine you need are infinite, and you will never be satisfied.” —Epicurus

“The time when most of you should withdraw into yourself is when you are forced to be in a crowd.” —Epicurus

“The universe is change; life is an opinion.” —Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

“There is no misery unless there be something in the universe which he thinks miserable.” —Seneca

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

“Things can never touch the soul, but stand inert outside it, so that disquiet can arise only from fancies within.” —Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Meditations, Book IV

“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. Love the hand that fate deals you and play it as your own, for what could be more fitting?” —Marcus Aurelius

“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.” —Seneca

“Thou are injuring thyself, my child.” —Marcus Aurelius

“Thoughts are mightier than strength of hand.” —Sophocles, Phaedra

“To rule yourself is the ultimate power.” —Seneca

“To think that being righteous is the best one can do and to do one’s utmost to be righteous will, on the contrary, bring many mistakes. The way is in a higher place than righteousness.” ―Tsunetomo Yamamoto, Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

“Today I have got out of all trouble, or rather I have cast out all trouble, for it was not outside, but within and in my opinions.” —Marcus Aurelius

“Very little is needed for everything to be upset and ruined, only a slight lapse in reason.” —Epictetus

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” —Marcus Aurelius

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be One.” —Marcus Aurelius

“We all have strength enough to bear the misfortunes of others.” —La Rochefoucauld

“We are more often frightened than hurt, and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.” —Seneca

“We can complain of nothing but ourselves.” —Seneca

“We must take care of our minds because we cannot benefit from beauty when our brains are missing.” —Euripides, fragment

“We should always be asking ourselves: Is this something that is, or is not, in my control?” —Epictetus

“We suffer more in imagination than in reality.” —Seneca

“Well, then, is it not better to use what is in their power like a free man than to desire in a slavish and abject way what is not in thy power?” —Marcus Aurelius

“What else are tragedies but the ordeals of people who have come to value externals, tricked out in tragic verse?” —Epictetus

“When a man has done thee any wrong, immediately consider with what opinion about good or evil he has done wrong. For when thou hast seen this, thou will pity him, and wilt neither wonder nor be angry.” —Marcus Aurelius

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

“When we act pugnaciously, and injuriously, and angrily, and rudely, to what level have we degenerated? To the level of the wild beasts. Well, the fact is that some of us are wild beasts of a larger size, while others are little animals, malignant and petty.” —Epictetus, Discourses

“Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.” —Euripides, Antigone

“Winter brings the cold and we must shiver; summer brings back the heat and we have to swelter. Bad weather tries the health and we have to be ill. Somewhere or other we are going to have encounters with wild beasts, and with [people], too,—more dangerous than all these beasts. Floods will rob us of one thing, fire of another. These are conditions of our existence which we cannot change. What we can do is adopt a noble spirit, such a spirit as befits a good [person], so that we may bear up bravely under all that fortune sends us and bring our wills into tune with nature’s; reversals, after all, are the means by which nature regulates this visible realm of hers; clear skies follow cloudy; after the calm comes the storm; the winds take turns to blow; day succeeds night; while part of the heavens is in the ascendant, another is sinking. It is by means of opposites that eternity endures.” —Seneca

“Words are the physicians of a mind diseased.” —Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound

“You always own the option of having no opinion. There is never any need to get worked up or to trouble your soul about things you can’t control. These things are not asking to be judged by you. Leave them alone.” ―Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

“You can only be a ‘victim’ of yourself. It’s all how you discipline your mind.” —Epictetus

“You can’t step into the same river twice.” —Heraclitus

“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” —Marcus Aurelius

“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this and you find strength.” ―Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

“Your mind will take the shape of what you frequently hold in thought, for the human spirit is colored by such impressions.” —Marcus Aurelius

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