My Top 10 List of Stoic Quotes for Mental Clarity

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In my last two posts, Choosing a Stoic Approach to Delivery and A Stoic Mindset for a “Clean” Mental Workspace, I introduced the idea of Stoicism and how I wanted to incorporate it into my delivery experience and discussed how a Stoic mindset can save time and overwhelm during periods of decision making. So now that you know what I’m talking about and how I use it, we’re on to the inspirational stuff! I’ve picked my ten favorite quotes from Stoic philosophy to aid in decision making and mental clarity.

 

When chaos abounds and everything is all over the place:

1. “Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.” 

– Epictetus, The Enchiridion (translated by Elizabeth Carter)

When you become a little too sensitive towards someone else’s anger/sadness/attitude/influence:

2. “If someone turned your body over to just any person who happened to meet you, you would be angry. But are you not ashamed that you turn over your own faculty of judgment to whoever happens along, so that if he abuses you it is upset and confused?” 

– Epictetus, The Enchiridion (translated by Nicholas P. White)

When the material competition heats up a little but too much and you need a re-center:

3. “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.”
– Seneca, Moral Letters to Lucilius (translated by Richard Motte Gummere)

When you need to realize that most of the drama begins and ends in your own mind:

4. “We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.”
– Seneca

When you need to emotionally back away from an issue, for your own sanity:

5. “Nothing is burdensome if taken lightly, and nothing need arouse one’s irritation so long as one doesn’t make it bigger than it is by getting irritated.”
– Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

When you need to get things into perspective and “check” your own stinky attitude:

6. “The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.”

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (translated by ASL Farquharson)

When every bone in your body wants to hit snooze, but you know you have a deadline to keep:

7. At dawn of day, when you dislike being called, have this thought ready: ‘I am called to man’s labour; why then do I make a difficulty if I am going out to do what I was born to do and what I was brought into the world for?’.”

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (translated by ASL Farquharson)

When you tell yourself you can’t do something just because it seems like a lot of effort or is outside of your comfort zone:

8. Do not think that what is hard for you to master is humanly impossible; but if a thing is humanly possible, consider it to be within your reach.”

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (translated by ASL Farquharson)

When you have had it up to *here* with passive aggressive comments:

9. “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 own opinion which has irritated you.”

– Epictetus, Enchiridion (translated by George Long)

When you feel like you want everything, now, today:

10. Remember that you ought to behave in life as you would at a banquet. As something is being passed around it comes to you; stretch out your hand, take a portion of it politely. It passes on; do not detain it. Or it has not come to you yet; do not project your desire to meet it, but wait until it comes in front of you. So act toward children, so toward a wife, so toward office, so toward wealth.”

– Epictetus, Enchiridion (translated by Elizabeth Carter)

  4 comments for “My Top 10 List of Stoic Quotes for Mental Clarity

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  4. February 18, 2016 at 7:19 am

    Great article. I will be going through many of these issues as well..

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