7 Short Stoic Essays

“So let those whose long prosperity has weakened their pampered minds carry on weeping and lamenting, and let them fall faint at the disturbance caused by the slightest injuries; but let those who have spent all their years in a succession of disasters endure even the heaviest blows with brave and steadfast resolve. The one benefit of continual misfortune is that it eventually hardens those whom it always afflicts.” (To Helvia, On Consolation, 2.3)

“A drop of oil is spilled, a little wine is stolen; say to yourself, ‘Such is the price at which equanimity is bought; such is the price that one pays for peace of mind.’ For nothing can be acquired at no cost at all. When you summon your servant, keep in mind that he may not obey, and even if he does, he may not do what you want; but he is hardly so well placed that it depends on him whether you’re to enjoy peace of mind.” (Epictetus, Enchiridion, 12.2)

Anyone who is intelligent is also self-controlled.

But anyone who is self-controlled is also steady.

Anyone who is steady is also untroubled.

Anyone who is untroubled is without sadness.

Anyone who is without sadness is happy.

Therefore the intelligent person is happy, and intelligence is sufficient for happiness.

“Do not disturb yourself by picturing your life as a whole; do not assemble in your mind the many and varied troubles which have come to you in the past and will come again in the future, but ask yourself with regard to every present difficulty: ‘What is there in this that is unbearable and beyond endurance?’ You would be ashamed to confess it! And then remind yourself that it is not the future or what has passed that afflicts you, but always the present, and the power of this is much diminished if you take it in isolation and call your mind to ask if it thinks that it cannot stand up to it when taken on its own.” (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 8.36)

“One can never be sure of one’s strength until numerous difficulties have appeared on every side, or indeed until the moment when they have come quite close. That is the way for the true mind to prove itself, the mind that yields to no judgment but it's own.

Fortune tests the spirit’s mettle. A boxer who has never suffered a beating cannot bring bold spirits to the match. It is the one who has seen his own blood — who has heard his teeth crunch under the fist — who has lost his footing and found himself spread-eagled beneath his opponent — the one who, though forced to yield, has never yielded in spirit, who after falling rises fiercer every time: that is the one who goes to the contest with vigorous hope.” (Seneca, Letter 13.1–2)

“The wise person is filled with joy, cheerful and calm, unalarmed; he lives on equal terms with gods. Now, look at yourself. If you are never downcast; if your mind is not bothered by any hopes concerning the future; if your mental state is even and consistent night and day, upright and content with itself, then you have indeed attained the fullness of the human good.

But if you seek pleasure in every direction and of every kind, then be aware that you are as far removed from wisdom as you are from joy. Joy is your aim, but you are of course: you think that you will get there amid riches and accolades; in other words, you seek joy in the midst of anxiety! You go after those things on grounds that they will bestow happiness and pleasure, but in reality, they are causes of pain.” (Letter 59.14)

Photo by Mike Gorrell on Unsplash

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash



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Saranjeet Singh

Saranjeet Singh


I write tutorials on Python, JavaScript, React, and Django. I write for InPlainEnglish and TheStartUp .