Life is such unutterable hell, solely because it is sometimes beautiful. If we could only be miserable all the time, if there could be no such things as love or beauty or faith or hope, if I could be absolutely certain that my love would never be returned: how much more simple life would be. One could plod through the Siberian salt mines of existence without being bothered about happiness. Unfortunately the happiness is there. There is always the chance (about eight hundred and fifty to one) that another heart will come to mine. I can't help hoping, and keeping faith, and loving beauty. Quite frequently I am not so miserable as it would be wise to be.
Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.
Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to realize how unnecessary many things are. We've been using them not because we needed them but because we had them.
Remember, it is not enough to be hit or insulted to be harmed, you must believe that you are being harmed. If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation. Which is why it is essential that we not respond impulsively to impressions; take a moment before reacting, and you will find it easier to maintain control.
What really frightens and dismays us is not external events themselves, but the way in which we think about them. It is not things that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance.
If you want to make progress, put up with being perceived as ignorant or naive in worldly matters, don't aspire to a reputation for sagacity. If you do impress others as somebody, don't altogether believe it. You have to realize, it isn't easy to keep your will in agreement with nature, as well as externals. Caring about the one inevitably means you are going to shortchange the other.
Remember to act always as if you were at a symposium. When the food or drink comes around, reach out and take some politely; if it passes you by don't try pulling it back. And if it has not reached you yet, don't let your desire run ahead of you, be patient until your turn comes. Adopt a similar attitude with regard to children, wife, wealth and status, and in time, you will be entitled to dine with the gods. Go further and decline these goods even when they are on offer and you will have a share in the gods' power as well as their company. That is how Diogenes, Heraclitus and philosophers like them came to be called, and considered, divine.
The first and most important field of philosophy is the application of principles such as “Do not lie.” Next come the proofs, such as why we should not lie. The third field supports and articulates the proofs, by asking, for example, “How does this prove it? What exactly is a proof, what is logical inference, what is contradiction, what is truth, what is falsehood?” Thus, the third field is necessary because of the second, and the second because of the first. The most important, though, the one that should occupy most of our time, is the first. But we do just the opposite. We are preoccupied with the third field and give that all our attention, passing the first by altogether. The result is that we lie – but have no difficulty proving why we shouldn’t.
From the philosopher Catulus, never to be dismissive of a friend's accusation, even if it seems unreasonable, but to make every effort to restore the relationship to its normal condition.
Philosophy does not promise to secure anything external for man, otherwise it would be admitting something that lies beyond its proper subject-matter. For as the material of the carpenter is wood, and that of statuary bronze, so the subject-matter of the art of living is each person's own life.
Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company.
For in this Case, we are not to give Credit to the Many, who say, that none ought to be educated but the Free; but rather to the Philosophers, who say, that the Well-educated alone are free.
Here is your great soul—the man who has given himself over to Fate; on the other hand, that man is a weakling and a degenerate who struggles and maligns the order of the universe and would rather reform the gods than reform himself.
[I]ndulge the body just so far as suffices for good health. It needs to be treated somewhat strictly to prevent it from being disobedient to the spirit. Your food should appease your hunger, your drink quench your thirst, your clothing keep out the cold, your house be a protection against inclement weather.
You have the power to strip away many superfluous troubles located wholly in your judgement, and to possess a large room for yourself embracing in thought the whole cosmos, to consider everlasting time, to think of the rapid change in the parts of each thing, of how short it is from birth until dissolution, and how the void before birth and that after dissolution are equally infinite.
I've come to the point where I never feel the need to stop and evaluate whether or not I am happy. I'm just 'being', and without question, by default, it works.
Il ne fait aucun doute pour moi que la sagesse est le but principal de la vie et c'est pourquoi je reviens toujours aux stoïciens. Ils ont atteint la sagesse, on ne peut donc plus les appeler des philosophes au sens propre du terme. De mon point de vue, la sagesse est le terme naturel de la philosophie, sa fin dans les deux sens du mot. Une philosophie finit en sagesse et par là même disparaît.
For what prevents us from saying that the happy life is to have a mind that is free, lofty, fearless and steadfast - a mind that is placed beyond the reach of fear, beyond the reach of desire, that counts virtue the only good, baseness the only evil, and all else but a worthless mass of things, which come and go without increasing or diminishing the highest good, and neither subtract any part from the happy life nor add any part to it?A man thus grounded must, whether he wills or not, necessarily be attended by constant cheerfulness and a joy that is deep and issues from deep within, since he finds delight in his own resources, and desires no joys greater than his inner joys.
Life is such unutterable hell, solely because it is sometimes beautiful. If we could only be miserable all the time, if there could be no such things as love or beauty or faith or hope, if I could be absolutely certain that my love would never be returned: how much more simple life would be. One could plod through the Siberian salt mines of existence without being bothered about happiness.
Death devours not only those who have been cooked by old age, it also feasts on those who are half-cooked and even those who are raw.
Some people avoid thinking deeply in public, only because they are afraid of coming across as suicidal.
Some of the best things that have ever happened to us wouldn’t have happened to us, if it weren’t for some of the worst things that have ever happened to us.
My boyfriends have all been as stoical as queen's guards. They'd been patient, committed, and dispassionate, and I'd had to really debase myself to extract any emotion, either grin or grimace, from them.
Being a stoic does not mean being a robot. Being a stoic means remaining calm both at the height of pleasure and the depths of misery.
In the evening I came home and read about the Messina earthquake, and how the relief ships arrived, and the wretched survivors crowded down to the water's edge and tore each other like wild beasts in their rage of hunger. The paper set forth, in horrified language, that some of them had been seventy-two hours without food. I, as I read, had also been seventy-two hours without food; and the difference was simply that they thought they were starving.
We love being mentally strong, but we hate situations that allow us to put our mental strength to good use.
But is life really worth so much? Let us examine this; it's a different inquiry. We will offer no solace for so desolate a prison house; we will encourage no one to endure the overlordship of butchers. We shall rather show that in every kind of slavery, the road of freedom lies open. I will say to the man to whom it befell to have a king shoot arrows at his dear ones [Prexaspes], and to him whose master makes fathers banquet on their sons' guts [Harpagus]: 'What are you groaning for, fool?... Everywhere you look you find an end to your sufferings. You see that steep drop-off? It leads down to freedom. You see that ocean, that river, that well? Freedom lies at its bottom. You see that short, shriveled, bare tree? Freedom hangs from it.... You ask, what is the path to freedom? Any vein in your body.
Death would not surprise us as often as it does, if we let go of the misbelief that newborns are less mortal than the elderly.
If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.