Maxims

Stoic philosopher teachers suggested using “maxims” to learn basic principles of Stoicism.

maxim
a short [meaningful] statement expressing a general truth or rule of conduct.

Example: “Actions speak louder than words.”

Below is a list of maxims that I’ve either stumbled across or “written” myself. I’d suggest memorizing some. They may come in handy when you’re trying to think clearly in a sticky situation or when you need simple words of inspiration. They also make great “exercise meditations.” Some people enjoy walking or jogging as they repeat a maxim, usually one syllable per step. It might sound bizarre, but it’s a good way to memorize a maxim, think on it, and make exercise pass quickly.

Some things are in my power,
and some things are not in my power.
In my power are opinion, impulse, desire, aversion;
whatever is my own doing.
Not in my power are body, possessions, reputation, status;
whatever is not my own doing.

(Based on Epictetus, Handbook 1.1)

How shameful it is
that, in this life,
the body’s yet fighting
while the soul caves in strife.

(Based on Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 6.29)

Eyes are for seeing.
Feet are for walking.
Humans are for doing Good.

(Based on Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 9.42)

Good character outshines all possessions.

(Based on Seneca, Letters from a Stoic Letter 5 “On the Philosopher’s Mean”)

When one man’s bad character reveals fury unfurled,
remember that all types must exist in this world.

(Based on Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 9.42)

Although dear to the child, the toy is only a toy.

(Based on Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 5.36)

Fearing death is like fearing gossip.

(Based on Seneca, Letters from a Stoic Letter 91 “On the Lesson to be Drawn from the Burning of Lyons”)

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