As with other philosophies in Ancient Rome, the stoics believe that the only thing that matters to achieve happiness (highest good) are virtues. They are good habits that guarantee a good life. External things like wealth and fame may not necessarily bring you happiness in life it’s all about your behavior to them. For example, you may have plenty of money but if you don’t practice temperance in your expenditure you will no longer appreciate having massive wealth on your bank. For the stoics, developing these virtues is the same as developing these good behavioral habits in your day to day lives.
The opposite of virtues are vices. They are bad habits. The opposite of temperance is indulgence; courage – cowardice; wisdom – folly; humility – arrogance, etc. Nothing guarantees a chaotic life other than developing these bad habits in your life.
Top 10 Quotes About Living A Life of Virtues From Ancient Stoics
1. “If, at some point in your life, you should come across anything better than justice, honesty, self-control, courage, it must be an extraordinary thing indeed—and enjoy it to the full … But if nothing presents itself that’s superior to the spirit that lives within—the one that has subordinated individual desires to itself, that discriminates among impressions, that has broken free of physical temptations (as Socrates used to say), and subordinated itself to the gods, and looks out for human beings’ welfare—if you find that there’s nothing more important or valuable than that
. . . then don’t make room for anything but it—for anything that might lead you astray, tempt you off the road, and leave you unable to devote yourself completely to achieving the goodness that is uniquely yours. “Meditations 3.6
2. “Upon every accident, remember to turn towards yourself and inquire what faculty you have for its use. If you encounter a handsome person, you will find continence the faculty needed; if pain, then fortitude; if reviling, then patience. And when thus habituated, the phenomena of existence will not overwhelm you.” Enchiridion 10
3. “It can ruin your life only if it ruins your character. Otherwise it cannot harm you—inside or out.” Meditations 4.8
4. “the chief means of attaining the happy life to consist in the belief that the only good lies in that which is honourable” Letters from a Stoic Letter 74
5. “Do you ask why virtue needs nothing? Because it is pleased with what it has, and does not lust after that which it has not. Whatever is enough is abundant in the eyes of virtue.” Letters from a Stoic Letter 74
6. “man. Let us limit the Supreme Good to the soul; it loses its meaning if it is taken from the best part of us and applied to the worst, that is, if it is transferred to the senses; for the senses are more active in dumb beasts. The sum total of our happiness must not be placed in the flesh; the true goods are those which reason bestows, substantial and eternal; they cannot fall away, neither can they grow less or be diminished.” Letters from a Stoic Letter 74
7. “Virtue suffers no space in us to be unoccupied; it takes pos¬session of the whole soul and removes all sense of loss. It alone is sufficient; for the strength and beginnings of all goods exist in virtue herself. What does it matter if running water is cut off and flows away, as long as the fountain from which it has flowed is unharmed? You will not maintain that a man’s life is more just if his children are unharmed than if they have passed away, nor yet better appointed, nor more intelligent, nor more honourable; therefore, no better, either. The addition of friends does not make one wiser, nor does their taking away make one more foolish; therefore, not happier or more wretched, either. As long is your virtue is unharmed, you will not feel the loss of anything that has been withdrawn from you” Letters from a Stoic Letter 74
8. “The conclusion is, not that hardships are desirable, but that virtue is desirable, which enables us patiently to endure hardships.” Letters from a Stoic Letter 61
9. “An expedition will be incomplete if one stops half-way, or any¬where on this side of one’s destination; but life is not incomplete if it is honorable. At whatever point you leave off living, provided you leave off nobly, your life is a whole.” Letters from a Stoic Letter 77
10. “It is with life as it is with a play—it matters not how long the action is spun out, but how good the acting is. It makes no difference at what point you stop. Stop whenever you choose; only see to it that the closing period is well turned” Letters from a Stoic Letter 77
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