One of the main tenets of Stoicism is that happiness can be attained from within. The ancient Stoics claim that a wise man is self-sufficient. When he experiences a flux of negative emotions, a wise would be able to deal with them using only his faculty of reasons. Due to the fleeting nature of power, money and fame, a man should not depend on these things for his own happiness. The most consistent source of happiness is man’s ability to use rationality to master his perceptions. Reason can be accessed anywhere and anytime while power, money and fame can be gone in a snap of a finger. This is how a man can be self-sufficient, relying only on himself and not on the externals.
Here are the top quotes about self-sufficiency from the ancient Stoics.
1) “And mark how self-sufficient he is; for on occasion he can be content with a part of himself. If he lose a hand through disease or war, or if some accident puts out one or both of his eyes, he will be satisfied with what is left, taking as much pleasure in his impaired and maimed body as he took when it was sound. But while he does not pine for these parts if they are missing, he prefers not to lose them.” Letters from a Stoic 9
2) “In this sense, the wise man is self-sufficient, that he can do without friends, not that he desires to do without them. When I say “can,” I mean this: he endures the loss of a friend with equanimity.” Letters from a Stoic 9
3) “The wise man is sufficient unto himself for a happy existence, but not for mere existence. For he needs many helps towards mere existence; but for a happy existence he needs only a sound and upright soul, one that despises Fortune.” Letters from a Stoic 9
4) “If you ever happen to turn your attention to externals, so as to wish to please anyone, be assured that you have ruined your scheme of life. Be contented, then, in everything with being a philosopher; and, if you wish to be thought so likewise by anyone, appear so to yourself, and it will suffice you.” Enchiridion
5) “Let your thoughts, your efforts, your desires, help to make you content with your own self and with the goods that spring from yourself” Letters from a Stoic 20
6) “Of course I do not forbid you to possess it, but I would have you reach the point at which you possess it dauntlessly; this can be accomplished only by persuading yourself that you can live happily without it as well as with it, and by regarding riches always as likely to elude you” Letters from a Stoic 18
7) “I pray that you may get such control over yourself that your mind, now shaken by wandering thoughts, may at last come to rest and be steadfast, that it may be content with itself and, having attained an understanding of what things are truly good—and they are in our possession as soon as we have this knowledge—that it may have no need of added years.” Letters from a Stoic 32
8). “He that owns himself has lost nothing. But how few men are blessed with ownership of self!” Letters from a Stoic 42
9)“At any rate, if you wish to sift doubtful meanings of this kind, teach us that the happy man is not he whom the crowd deems happy, namely, he into whose coffers mighty sums have flowed, but he whose possessions are all in his soul, who is upright and exalted,” Letters from a Stoic 45