6 Enlightened Principles That Can Alter Your Approach To Life, According To The Most Famous Stoics

Doing these things can seriously impact your life for the better.

woman meditating at desk fizkes / Shutterstock

Although they lived thousands of years ago, we can still learn from the Stoics now. Many of their teachings are universal. 

Instagram account @astoicsmind is dedicated to sharing “daily quotes from the greatest thinkers.” Recently, they shared 6 things you should never do according to some of the greatest and most well-known Stoics. Incorporating these principles into your life can majorly change your perspective and your approach.


These 6 enlightened principles can alter the way you live your life for the better:

1. ‘Don’t suffer imagined troubles. It’ll either happen or it won’t. Don’t suffer before you need to.’

Seneca advised that we not focus on the future when we have no way to control it. 

This is known medically as anticipatory anxiety, which Healthline defined as “fear and worry around bad things that could happen. It can happen in a lot of different contexts, but it commonly focuses on things you can’t predict or control.”



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The future is going to come whether you like it or not. There’s no way to control what comes. It’s better not to spend time worrying about the things that may complicate your life when they may never occur.

2. ‘Don’t be overheard complaining, not even to yourself.’

Marcus Aurelius suggested we completely eliminate complaining from our lives. 

According to VeryWellMind, people complain for a variety of reasons, from something as simple as a bad mood to something more complex like being around others who are complaining.

Complaining might not seem like a big deal, but doing so regularly can seriously impact your outlook, in addition to “[reducing] the number of positive influences in your life.”




3. ‘Don’t compare yourself to others.’

Thousands of years ago, Epictetus warned us about comparison culture. His words still ring true now. 

The Albert Ellis Institute touched on the slippery slope of comparing yourself to others. “The danger of comparing ourselves to others is that our comparisons are never fair,” they said. “Each one of us is a unique individual with characteristics and life events that are unique to only us.”



Comparing yourself to others only brings unhappiness. Nothing good can come from it, and it should be avoided at all costs.


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4. ‘Don’t tie your identity to things you own. Those things are fragile and can be taken from you at any moment.’

Seneca taught that our identity transcends the material. It is indeed true that materialism has become problematic.

The British Psychological Society stated, “More than mere tools, luxuries or junk, our possessions become extensions of the self. We use them to signal to ourselves, and others, who we want to be and where we want to belong.”



But this can be dangerous. Material things hold no permanence. We cannot hold onto them as if we derive our identity and meaning from them.


5. ‘You mess up too, so don’t judge other people.’

Marcus Aurelius understood that everyone makes mistakes. Just because we see someone else make one doesn’t give us the right to judge them.

Writing for Psychology Today, Barbara Markway said, “Remember, we are more alike than different … Most important, that person makes mistakes, just like I do.”



It’s important to acknowledge that others aren’t the only ones who make mistakes. More often than not, we’re the ones doing exactly that. Judging others gets you nowhere when you are guilty of the exact same thing.


6. ‘Don’t talk more than you listen. Two ears, one mouth.’

Zeno was on to something when he made this important point. If we have more ears than mouths, shouldn’t we do more listening?

Listening is a way to show people that you care in any situation, whether you’re with family, friends, or co-workers. Listening shows that you are there for more than just yourself.



Forbes pointed out how scarce listening has become, writing, “Close your laptop, put down your phone, and focus on what your colleague is saying. It sounds easy, but look around and notice how rare it actually is.”


Although implementing these principles may not be easy, it’s definitely worth the effort.

Living as the Stoics envisioned is no easy feat, but doing so will allow you to live in a way that is truly more aligned with the very best of values and intentions. Take some time to try practicing just a few of these principles in your life and see what a difference they make.

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Mary-Faith Martinez is a writer for YourTango who covers entertainment, news, and human interest topics.