How to Be Prepared for Anything: 9 Powerful Seneca Quotes

Seneca on how to prepare and prevail over the unexpected.

Need a perspective shift today? These 9 Stoic quotes from Seneca will help you calm your mind, gather your courage, and face up to whatever life throws your way. -PS Staff


What is quite unlooked for is more crushing in its effect, and unexpectedness adds to the weight of a disaster. The fact that it was unforeseen has never failed to intensify a person’s grief. This is a reason for ensuring that nothing ever takes us by surprise. We should project our thoughts ahead of us at every turn and have in mind every possible eventuality instead of only the usual course of events.
- Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

This is why we need to envisage every possibility and to strengthen the spirit to deal with the things which may conceivably come about. Rehearse them in your mind: exile, torture, war, shipwreck. Misfortune may snatch you away from your country… If we do not want to be overwhelmed and struck numb by rare events as if they were unprecedented ones; fortune needs envisaging in a thoroughly comprehensive way.
- Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

That person has lost their children: you too, can lose yours; that person received sentence of death: your innocence too, stands under the hammer. This is the fallacy that takes us in and makes us weak while we suffer misfortunes that we never foresaw that we could suffer. The person who has anticipated the coming of troubles takes away their power when they arrive.
- Seneca, Consolation to Marcia

A commander never puts such trust in peace that he fails to prepare for a war.
- Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

Everyone faces up more bravely to a thing for which he has long prepared himself, sufferings, even, being withstood if they have been trained for in advance. Those who are unprepared, on the other hand, are panic-stricken by the most insignificant happenings.
- Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

It is in times of security that the spirit should be preparing itself to deal with difficult times; while fortune is bestowing favors on it then is the time for it to be strengthened against her rebuffs.
- Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

Set aside now and then a number of days during which you will be content with the plainest of food, and very little of it, and with rough, coarse clothing, and will ask yourself, ‘Is this what one used to dread?
- Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

It is essential to make oneself used to putting up with a little. Even the wealthy and the well provided are continually met and frustrated by difficult times and situations. It is in no man’s power to have whatever he wants; but he has it in his power not to wish for what he hasn’t got, and cheerfully make the most of the things that do come his way.
- Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

Barley porridge, or a crust of bread, and water do not make a very cheerful diet, but nothing gives one keener pleasure than the ability to derive pleasure even from that — and the feeling of having arrived at something which one cannot be deprived of by any unjust stroke of fortune.
- Seneca, Letters from a Stoic