18 Stoic Quotes That Will Immediately Transform Your Perspective

Appearances can be deceiving.

Need a perspective shift today? These 18 timeless Stoic quotes will help you calm your mind, gather your courage, and face up to whatever life throws your way.


If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs you, but your own judgment about it. And it is in your power to wipe out this judgment now.
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Things stand outside of us, themselves by themselves, neither knowing anything of themselves nor expressing any judgment.
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Today I escaped from anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions — not outside.
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

[It is] like seeing roasted meat and other dishes in front of you and suddenly realizing: This is a dead fish. A dead bird. A dead pig. Or that this noble vintage [wine] is rotted grapes… perceptions like that... latching onto things and piercing through them, to see what they really are… to strip away the legend that encrusts them.”
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations


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

Define for me now what the “indifferents” are. Whatever things we cannot control. Tell me the upshot. They are nothing to me.
- Epictetus, Enchiridion

It’s something like going on an ocean voyage. What can I do? Pick the captain, the boat, the date, and the best time to sail. But then a storm hits… What are my options? I do the only thing I am in a position to do, drown — but fearlessly, without bawling or crying out to God, because I know that what is born must also die.
- Epictetus, Discourses

Take a lyre player: he’s relaxed when he performs alone, but put him in front of an audience, and it’s a different story, no matter how beautiful his voice or how well he plays the instrument. Why? Because he not only wants to perform well, he wants to be well received — and the latter lies outside his control.
- Epictetus, Enchiridion


Let us meet with bravery whatever may befall us. Let us never feel a shudder at the thought of being wounded or of being made a prisoner, or of poverty or persecution.
- Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

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.
- Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

Cling tooth and nail to the following rule: not to give in to adversity, never to trust prosperity, and always take full note of fortune’s habit of behaving just as she pleases, treating her as if she were actually going to do everything it is in her power to do. Whatever you have been expecting for some time comes as less of a shock.
- Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

Fate leads the willing, and drags along the reluctant.
- Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

Whatever happens to you has been waiting to happen since the beginning of time. The twining strands of fate wove both of them together.
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations


Plato has a fine saying, that he who would discourse of man should survey, as from some high watchtower, the things of earth.
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Remember: Matter. How tiny your share of it. Time. How brief and fleeting your allotment of it. Fate. How small a role you play in it.
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

You can discard most of the junk that clutters your mind…and clear out space for yourself… by comprehending the scale of the world… by contemplating infinite time… by thinking of the speed with which things change — each part of every thing; the narrow space between our birth and death; the infinite time before; the equally unbounded time that follows.
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Asia and Europe: distant recesses of the universe. The ocean: a drop of water. Mount Athos: a molehill. The present: a split second in eternity. Minuscule, transitory, insignificant.
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations