Seneca on Fortune

“That which Fortune has not given, she cannot take away.”

~ Seneca / Letters to Lucilius 59

Seneca on Suffering

“Two elements must therefore be rooted out once for all — the fear of future suffering, and the recollection of past suffering; since the latter no longer concerns me, and the former concerns me not yet.”
(Letters to Lucilius, LXXVIII.14)

~ Seneca

Seneca on Wrongdoing

“Wrongdoing has no harsher penalty than this: one offends oneself, and also one’s family and friends.”

~ Seneca

Seneca on Misfortune

“Others have been plundered, indiscriminately, set upon, betrayed, beaten up, attacked with poison or with calumny — mention anything you like, it has happened to plenty of people.”

~ Seneca

Seneca on Calm

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

~ Seneca

Seneca on Excellence

“Excellence withers without an adversary.”

~ Seneca

William B. Irvine on Pleasure

“…though certain activities are pleasurable, engaging in those activities will disrupt our tranquility, and the tranquility lost will outweigh the pleasure gained.”

~ Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (p. 227). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Seneca on Revenge

“How much better to heal than seek revenge from injury.”

~ Seneca

Marcus Aurelius on Ambition

Ambition means tying your well-being to what other people say or do… sanity means tying it to your own actions.

~ Marcus Aurelius

Seneca on Vices

“I am satisfied if each day I make some reduction in the number of my vices and find fault with my mistakes.”

~ Seneca

Seneca on a Small Life

“Just as one of small stature can be a perfect man, so a life of small compass can be a perfect life.”

~ Seneca

Seneca on Vices

“Vices tempt you by the rewards which they offer; but in the life of which I speak, you must live without being paid.”

~ Seneca

Marcus Aurelius on Virtue

“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.”

~ Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius on Virtue

“This is what you deserve. You could be good today. But instead you choose tomorrow.”

~ Marcus Aurelius

Seneca on Misfortunes

“Life is full of various misfortunes that plague it, and no man enjoys a lasting peace from them, indeed scarcely a truce.”

~ Seneca

Musonius Rufus on Duty

“Those men do not live long who have become accustomed to say to their subjects in defence of whatever they do, not, ‘It is my duty,’ but, ‘It is my will.'”

~ Musonius Rufus

Seneca on Desire

“Do not ask for what you will wish you had not got.”

~ Seneca

Marcus Aurelius on Truth

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

~ Marcus Aurelius

Zeno on the Good

“All the good are friends of one another.”

~ Zeno of Citium

Musonius Rufus on Life

“…the more one pushes the intelligent person away from the life he was born for, the more he inclines towards it.”

~ King, Cynthia. Musonius Rufus: Lectures and Sayings (p. 89). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

William Irvine on Contamination

“We are social creatures; we will be miserable if we try to cut off contact with other people. Therefore, if what we seek is tranquility, we should form and maintain relations with others. In doing so, though, we should be careful about whom we befriend. We should also, to the extent possible, avoid people whose values are corrupt, for fear that their values will contaminate ours.”

~ Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (p. 228). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

William Irvine on Happiness

“Many of us have been persuaded that happiness is something that someone else, a therapist or a politician, must confer on us. Stoicism rejects this notion. It teaches us that we are very much responsible for our happiness as well as our unhappiness. It also teaches us that it is only when we assume responsibility for our happiness that we will have a reasonable chance of gaining it.”

~ Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (pp. 221-222). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

William Irvine on a Good Life

“The most important reason for adopting a philosophy of life, though, is that if we lack one, there is a danger that we will mislive—that we will spend our life pursuing goals that aren’t worth attaining or will pursue worthwhile goals in a foolish manner and will therefore fail to attain them.”

~ Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (p. 203). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

William Irvine on Other People’s Opinions

“Marcus agrees with Epictetus that it is foolish for us to worry about what other people think of us and particularly foolish for us to seek the approval of people whose values we reject. Our goal should therefore be to become indifferent to other people’s opinions of us. He adds that if we can succeed in doing this, we will improve the quality of our life.”

~ Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (p. 168). Oxford University Press.

William Irvine on Being Sensitive

“If we are overly sensitive, we will be quick to anger. More generally, says Seneca, if we coddle ourselves, if we allow ourselves to be corrupted by pleasure, nothing will seem bearable to us, and the reason things will seem unbearable is not because they are hard but because we are soft.”

~ Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (p. 161). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

William Irvine on Insults

“WHEN INSULTED, people typically become angry. Because anger is a negative emotion that can upset our tranquility, the Stoics thought it worthwhile to develop strategies to prevent insults from angering us—strategies for removing, as it were, the sting of an insult. One of their sting-elimination strategies is to pause, when insulted, to consider whether what the insulter said is true. If it is, there is little reason to be upset.”

~ Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (p. 144). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

William Irvine on Stoic Self-Denial

“Indeed, by practicing Stoic self-denial techniques over a long period, Stoics can transform themselves into individuals remarkable for their courage and self-control. They will be able to do things that others dread doing, and they will be able to refrain from doing things that others cannot resist doing. They will, as a result, be thoroughly in control of themselves. This self-control makes it far more likely that they will attain the goals of their philosophy of life, and this in turn dramatically increases their chances of living a good life.”

Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (p. 116). Oxford University Press.

William Irvine on Control

“A practicing Stoic will keep the trichotomy of control firmly in mind as he goes about his daily affairs. He will perform a kind of triage in which he sorts the elements of his life into three categories: those over which he has complete control, those over which he has no control at all, and those over which he has some but not complete control. The things in the second category—those over which he has no control at all—he will set aside as not worth worrying about. In doing this, he will spare himself a great deal of needless anxiety. He will instead concern himself with things over which he has complete control and things over which he has some but not complete control.”

Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (pp. 100-101). Oxford University Press.

Seneca on Possessions

“At last, then, away with all these treacherous goods! They look better to those who hope for them than to those who have attained them.”

~ Seneca / Epistulae Morales AD Lucilium

Seneca on Misdeeds

“Innocent persons sometimes perish; who would deny that? But the guilty perish more frequently.”

~ Seneca / Epistulae Morales AD Lucilium

Seneca on Possessions

“Again, let us possess nothing that can be snatched from us to the great profit of a plotting foe. Let there be as little booty as possible on your person.”

~ Seneca / Epistulae Morales AD Lucilium