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Top 12 Stoicism Quotes That Will Change Your Life Perspective

Stoicism (wiki) is an ancient philosophy founded in Athens around 3rd century B.C. In my opinion, it is one the most underrated philosophies ever created. Primary teachings included coping, emotional control and human freedom. Three of the best stoicism books I can recommend are The Meditations Of Marcus Aurelius, Enchiridion of Epictetus and Seneca On The Shortness Of Life. In addition to the paper books, you can hear all of these books in audio form on Youtube for free. Listed below is my list of the top 12 quotes from Stoic philosophy on several different subjects. Enjoy.

On Hardship

A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man without trials.”

The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.”
Marcus Aurelius

Difficulty shows what men are. Therefore when a difficulty falls upon you, remember that God, like a trainer of wrestlers, has matched you with a rough young man. Why? So that you may become an Olympic conqueror; but it is not accomplished without sweat.”

On Change

Time is like a river made up of the events which happen, and a violent stream; for as soon as a thing has been seen, it is carried away, and another comes in its place, and this will be carried away too.”
Marcus Aurelius

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

In the life of a man, his time is but a moment, his being an incessant flux, his sense a dim rushlight, his body a prey of worms, his soul an unquiet eddy, his fortune dark, his fame doubtful. In short, all that is body is as coursing waters, all that is of the soul as dreams and vapors.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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On Criticism & Reputation

When another blames you or hates you, or people voice similar criticisms, go to their souls, penetrate inside and see what sort of people they are. You will realize that there is no need to be racked with anxiety that they should hold any particular opinion about you.”
Marcus Aurelius 

If you hear that someone is speaking ill of you, instead of trying to defend yourself you should say: ‘He obviously does not know me very well, since there are so many other faults he could have mentioned’.”
― Epictetus

Or is it your reputation that’s bothering you? But look at how soon we’re all forgotten. The abyss of endless time that swallows it all. The emptiness of those applauding hands. The people who praise us; how capricious they are, how arbitrary. And the tiny region it takes place. The whole earth a point in space – and most of it uninhabited.”
Marcus Aurelius 

On Time & Death

You live as if you were destined to live forever, no thought of your frailty ever enters your head, of how much time has already gone by you take no heed. You squander time as if you drew from a full and abundant supply, though all the while that day which you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last.”

Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now, take what’s left and live it properly. What doesn’t transmit light creates its own darkness.”
Marcus Aurelius 

Keep the prospect of death, exile and all such apparent tragedies before you every day – especially death – and you will never have an abject thought, or desire anything to excess.”
Epictetus, Discourses and Selected Writings

The Stoics had many great teachings on hardship and dealing with the frailties of human life. However, the stoic’s also believed in the concept of grateful indifference. Grateful indifference means being happy with your situation in life but also completely indifferent to extraneous sadness and euphoric happiness – they taught an inner calm and peace. Here is one last quote by Marcus Aurelius.

Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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