Stoic Philosophy has been a source of strength and resilience for people for over 2000 years. Philosophers like Marcus Aurelius, Seneca and Epictetus have left us with a body of work that still provides a practical, tangible benefit to this day.

This is a list of Stoic affirmations:


When I meet with death, as we all must do, the time and place will be largely outside of my control. If tomorrow, then I will die tomorrow, and if a year from now or twenty years from now, then I will meet it then. It is in the very nature of a living thing to die, regardless of how much we resist it. However, for now I am alive, so I will put to use what is within my control and decide what to do with the time that is given to me.

Day to day we often distance ourselves from death, thinking that it is something that happens to others, or perhaps to us many years from now. But the truth is that death is at our shoulder every day, an ever present fact of life. Today may be you last. Living with this reminder brings with it a deep gratitude for many of the things we take for granted, knowing that whatever it is may be one of the last few times we are able to experience it. Whether that be the sound of the leaves in the wind, the company of those we love, or simply the taste of good food. To the Stoics, this was the practice of Memento Mori. The practice of remembering death.

To me, one of the great ironies of life is man’s drive to find comfort, to remove all sources of hardship and suffering in favour of comfort. When applied to our core needs for food, shelter, security and companionship comfort and stability make sense, but when it extends to every corner of our lives comfort and the removal of all hardship brings with it it’s own brand of hardship. Instead if putting ourselves into the unknown, expanding our comfort zone and learning to deal with the adversity that comes with it, excessive comfort risks the opposite, it erodes our resilience to hardship, can breed purposelessness, apathy, sloth, and the host of limitations that come with a shrinking comfort circle.

It seems to me that one of the lesser thought of challenges of modern life is to balance the comfort that comes when our base needs are met, with the voluntary hardship that’s needed to make sure that comfort doesn’t soften our resolve.

The nature of life is change. From the very first shifts of the universe, the most simple of elements gathered together to produce clouds and then solid bodies, bodies that began to form the very first ingredients for life. Those ingredients formed life, the cycle of birth and death, until eventually they came together in the exact configuration needed to create you and me. Like the beginning, the peak, and the crashing end of a wave, our lives are simply part of a grander cycle. We are formed, we experience, we end, and in our end comes the opportunity for the reconfiguration of our atoms, for another to come and go and enjoy the experience, and so on forever. The nature of the universe is change.

Lives are often not made better in the accomplishment of lofty goals or the collecting of expensive things so much as they are improved by the small day to day changes of one’s habits, the little decisions to wake up a little earlier, get out of the house a little more often, read that book that has been gathering dust, or to try to be more present in the company of the things and people we love. While great achievements do contribute to it, habits built over time, not short bursts of joy, are often the paving stones to a happier life.

There’s a delicate balance to be had when looking to the future and the past. The future is necessary for long term planning and preparing for events that seem likely to happen, however look too long towards the horizon and it’s easy to let life slip by and miss the very thing you spent all that time planning and preparing for.

Similarly the past can be used as a tool to learn, but looking back to what was may also mean that you miss the life you live now, the life into which you’ve taken all of the lessons of the past.

The future can be used to plan and prepare, the past can be used to learn, but life happens only in the present.

Whenever you feel anger towards a person, think of what led them to behave in such a way. It is all too easy for us to pass judgement from our own perspective, but it a very different thing to try and put yourself in the shoes of the wrongdoer and try to understand what hardship they have gone through, what burden they carry, or how life has treated them leading up to the moment which you found so offensive. Most people are trying to do the best they can with what they have, and while we are all responsible for our actions, there is often a line to draw between a person’s experience and their behaviour.

It often does more harm than good to live in resentment and disdain for the world around us. The world we find ourselves in, it’s past and present, it’s people, and the rise and fall of it’s cultures and practices are all the way they are, not the way we want them to be. When we resist the reality of the world around us and instead project onto it our expectation about how the world should be, we are often met with resistance, and the greater the distance between reality and our expectation, the greater the resistance.

The world is what it is, it is not what we expect it to be. Learn to accept life, learn to love fate and all that it brings. This is the Stoic principle of Amor Fati. To love fate. After all, fate has given us the ability to live, and to experience life. Believe believe

Amor Fati often gets confused with a passive, defeatist acceptance of the world around us, to accept the wrongs of the world and to lie down as we observe the passing of things we don’t agree with or wrongdoing we see being committed. This is not the case. Acceptance of reality does not mean to submit to it, it is simply learning the ability to see it objectively and accepting that, in this moment, that is the state of the world. It is the ability to look at it clearly, not through the lens of our own bias and expectations. In doing so we are more clearly able to understand what is within our control and what is not, and then look to leverage that control to affect change in first ourselves, and then if possible, in the world around us for the better.

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