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The Greatest Stoics Swear by These Seven Uncommon Quotes

by | Apr 21, 2022 | Success

Stoicism is for badasses.

The lessons are hundreds of years old. It’s easy to think they don’t apply anymore. What I’ve found bizarre is some of the oldest lessons in history ring truer today than back then.

This is because life lessons are rarely new.

We’ve just forgotten lessons from history so we try to reinvent them again on social media — until a stoic genius like Ryan Holiday digs up stoic lessons and it becomes obvious that there’s rarely new wisdom created.

Here are the quotes some of the greatest modern-day stoics swear by.

The things you run from are inside you — Seneca

We’re all running from something. Read that again.

What causes us to run is our insecurities that light our fears on fire and burn deep inside of us. I run from things all the time. I ran from marriage for years because I was afraid to commit.

I ran from entrepreneurship for close to a decade because I was petrified to fail again. So, I got a safe job in a bank and pretended entrepreneurship was dead inside me forever.

All I did was delay the inevitable. Last year I quit my corporate job and faced the truth: I like to captain my own ship.

For years I ran from the education system. I felt it cheated me out of the best years of my life so I approached it with hate.

A few years back I stopped running and built my own online academy from nothing. Instead of complaining, I’m now one of the few people trying to rebuild the system.

How to apply it:

Life gets better when you stop running.

Face your fears. Admit them. Dare to share your fears online and how they make you feel, for radical accountability.

The time of your life happens after you stop running.

If you seek tranquility, do less — Marcus Aurelius

Busy minds are a virus.

We’re overworked and (often) underpaid. We have to-do lists that never end. Work-from-home became work-seven-days-a-week. We seek tranquility but find it hard to get it.

With all of the noise it’s hard to know what day it is. Days can easily blend into years. Before we know it the next bat disease has arrived and we face another uprising again.

How to apply it:

Doing less is where peace is found.

Less items on our to-do lists. Less saying yes to requests of our time. Less hate, more love. Less complaining, more problem-solving. Less time working, more time relaxing. Less time overthinking, more time being mindful.

We suffer more in imagination than in reality — Seneca

Your mind can blow up any problem and have it dominate your thoughts.

Your imagination just needs a thought-match to light reality on fire. Negative thoughts add further gasoline to the bonfire.

The imagination is helpful and destructive. Near-term events that won’t matter in five years are easy to let through the mind’s door.

How to apply it:

Take a step back. Will this problem matter in five years?

Probably not. Are you overthinking? Probably. Would time away from the problem help? Sure would. That’s why I love distractions such as video games that many say are destructive.

A major distraction that takes all your brainpower gives you a break from your imagination. Movies do this for me all the time. Try to watch the Matrix and also have your imagination create negative futures. It’s impossible.

Purposely give your imagination a break.

People are frugal in guarding their personal property. But as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy — Seneca

Material possessions are weird. We shine them, insure them, show them off — yet they can’t come with us after we die.

Time on the other hand is easy to waste.

The internet provides infinite rabbit holes strategically designed to turn your time into someone else’s business model built on the attention economy.

To be wasteful of time is to waste your life. Few understand this. All you get in life is time.

It’s the reason Warren Buffett is a 90-something billionaire but completely bankrupt in life.

His Coca-Cola and Mcdonald’s diet and his age guarantee his fate. Old mate Warren would do anything in the world, including giving up his billions, to get more time.

How to apply it:

Say no more often.

  • Create “no” templates.
  • Stop being fearful about saying no.
  • Make your default answer to all requests a no.
  • Make people work for a yes. Force people to follow up and sell you harder on their ideas.

No equals more time. Use that time to work on projects you love and spend time with that beautiful family who will one day cry their eyes out at your funeral when you’ve run out of time.

Being poor is not having too little, it is wanting more — Seneca

Consumerism makes us want more.

Ads try to sell us on problems we don’t have. The more problems marketing makes you think you have, the more money you’ve got to give them to solve them. Stupid.

I used to be extremely poor.

I was 20-something years old with all the money in the world — yet I couldn’t get enough. I was prepared to lie, cheat, and steal to make more. Showing people how much money I made became a survival mechanism. I exited human life and entered the Matrix.

Poor people want more. Wealthy people feel they have enough.

You won’t meet many wealthy people. They rarely make themselves known. All they do is live their life with the bare essentials and focus on love.

Corny yet true.

How to apply it:

Reduce your wants.

Make a list of all the crap you want to buy. Start crossing items off the list.

See every purchase as a debit on your time.

A $2000 flatscreen TV is 6 more hours of your life stuck in a cubicle. A $20K car loan is months of your life wasted on a hunk of metal with four wheels that you can rent off Uber for $20.

Less spending equals more time.

I cannot teach anyone anything, I can only make them think — Socrates

This is what it feels like to write online.

In today’s polarizing world of social media the need to be either right or wrong is stark. But no writer, including me, can be 100% right. So I stopped trying. My goal in life is to make people think.

Maybe they won’t agree with my opinion, but hopefully they’ll challenge theirs to see if there are any holes in it. That’s the best you can hope for.

Most teaching is BS anyway. Unless people experience the successes and losses for themselves, the lessons won’t get learned.

My parents tried for years to get me to listen. I only learned when I royally f’d up and got left in tears.

The emotion from failure creates motion in life.

How to apply it:

Stop trying to change minds.

Share your ideas. Let them get debated. But don’t try to tell people they’re right or wrong. None of us hold that magical superpower reserved for godly creatures not made from human DNA.

You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength — Marcus Aurelius

Events can ruin you.

But you don’t control events. The ancient stoic advice of “sh*t happens” is worth remembering.

What you CAN control is what you think.

How to apply it:

You can filter out useless thoughts. You can recode your mind by adding kickass mentors to your life. You can reprogram your mind with podcasts and Youtube videos.

Study psychology. Understand how you think. Then, rig the psychological game in your favor and you’ll get an unfair advantage.

Those who master their minds master the universe.

To finish, one unheard of modern-day stoic quote

The grass is always greener on the side that’s fertilized with bullsh*t — Morgan Housel

Not all good stoic advice comes from Roman emperors. Modern-day stoics such as Morgan Housel have bled into popular culture.

This quote is powerful because it reminds us of the spin factories.

They’re everywhere. HR departments spin employee benefits. PR companies spin fake startup success stories such as WeWork and Theranos. Influencers spin vanity metrics such as followers as life-changing.

Business leaders spin revenue performance to keep their jobs, earn bonuses, and get promotions.

The grass always looks greener on the side you’re not standing on.

Then you stand on the artificially fertilized grass grown by spin factories and realize it’s all fake. What you thought was real is an illusion.

Make the best of where you’re standing right now. Stop chasing rainbows to greener grass that doesn’t exist.

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