12 Stoic Aphorisms to Get You Through the Hardest Times


Among all philosophers Stoics always were the toughest. I see only benefits in being like them. Stoics have the highest level of stress-resistance. Stoics are surrounded by the best people and they wisely spend their time. At the top of everything, Stoics don’t fear death.

In a word, being a Stoic today means being hard as f… You get it.

The trick is that you don’t need to spend much time and read all the books on stoicism to get that powerful attitude. Thanks to a brilliant invention of humanity: aphorisms. Phrases that tell you more than a thousand books.

If you have the will to reflect on them.

#1. When you are afraid

“The mind that is anxious about future events is miserable.”
~ L. A. Seneca

Fear is always an anticipation. We can be afraid only of what is to come. No one is afraid of what is happenning right now. Therefore, reread the aphorism once again and make your judgement. Do you see it now?

#2. When everything is bad

“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”
~ L. A. Seneca

It is impossible for everything to be bad. At least you are alive, and that is always a good thing. But everything you think about can definitely be bad. There is a way out: adjust your thinking.

#3. When life is tough on you

“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”
~ Epicurus

Once again, when you have problems, it doesn’t feel right, just and certainly it doesn’t bring you pleasure. However, in our times, this is the only way to make yourself better prepared for life.

#4. When people are not grateful to you

“You need not look about for the reward of a just deed; a just deed in itself offers a still greater return.”
~ L. A. Seneca

You are probably expecting something good to happen to you after making a good deed. Don’t fall into the standard trap of cause-effect logical error. You do something good — this is good by itself. If the world operated in another way, we wouldn’t ever be able to determine if the person was good or just there for profit. Ever! Now that would be a real problem.

#bonus tip. When it is 6 a.m.

“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love …”
~ Marcus Aurelius

#5. When you are losing

“Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behaviour, not because they won or lost.”
~ Nassim Nicholas Taleb

It may sound not very reassuring. That’s all right. Even the greatest ones fall and it has nothing to do with their greatness. It is just sometimes we can do shit about the end result. Concentrate on what is in your power, and thus you will prevail.

#6. When things are not going as well as we expect

“We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.”
~ Epictetus

#7. When people think you are crazy

“There is no genius without a touch of madness.”
~ L. A. Seneca

#bonus tip. When you need more money

“It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.”
~ L. A. Seneca

Having not enough money definitely sucks. Still, the amount of money you possess with should not influence your state of mind, and it should not determine your level of happiness. Hence the aphorism.

#8. When you don’t have enough time

“It’s not that we have little time, but more that we waste a good deal of it.”
~ L. A. Seneca

Planning. Planning. Planning. Even Seneca, who lived 2000 years ago, knew about the importance of keeping your calendar and to-do list updated.

#9. When you are seeking for happiness

“Of all the means to insure happiness throughout the whole life, by far the most important is the acquisition of friends.”
~ Epicurus

This is a great little advice. Try to recall a couple of times when you were overwhelmed with happiness. Chances are at that time you were surrounded by your best friends.

#10. When you are taken by surprise

“How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything which happens in life.”
~ Marcus Aurelius

Quoting another famous stoic (and anarchist): ‘Life’s a b#tch”. That said, it is ridiculous indeed to allow anything to be surprising to you.

#11. When choosing friends

“Associate with those who will make a better man of you. Welcome those whom you yourself can improve. The process is mutual; for men learn while they teach.”
~ L. A. Seneca

This is such a great piece of advice I am learning it by heart. Let your process of choosing people around you be wise, as they will determine the person you become.

#12. When choosing your own path

“What difference does it make, after all, what your position in life is if you dislike it yourself?”
~ L. A. Seneca

Listen to others. Decide for yourself.

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You can also read another article I wrote. It is about books everyone who is willing to become smarter should read. Titles included:



Mark Marchenko
General Writing: Idea, Thinking, Opinion

Flâneur. MSc Medieval Literatures & Cultures ’20 @EdinburghUni . Interests include: Le Morte Darthur • Dead Languages • Heroism