5 Classic Stoic Principles to Live By for a Happier Life

stoic principles

Before I discovered Stoic principles, I went through life without a clear purpose. Without any idea of how to live a good life.

I simply imitated the actions and behavior of those around me. But the truth is that most people are unhappy and aimless.

I seriously started practicing Stoicism when I was 28. That’s when things started to change in my life. That was in 2015. Since then, I’ve become happier every year.

9 years after I started living as a Stoic, I can wholeheartedly say that happiness is a muscle that gets stronger the more you train it.

Let me share 5 of the most useful Stoic principles with you. I hope they will improve your happiness as much as they improved mine.

1. Become fearless

“He who fears death will never do anything to help the living. But he who knows that this was decreed the moment he was conceived will live by principle and at the same time will ensure, using the same power of mind, that nothing of what happens to him comes as a surprise.” — Seneca

Look, we’re all going to die. I guarantee you this.

All the things that make you unhappy today will seem meaningless on your deathbed.

  • You got a bad grade
  • It’s always bad weather in your town
  • No one likes your social media posts
  • Someone didn’t invite you to their birthday party
  • Other people seem happy and you feel alone

Get over it. Go through life fearlessly. Do the things you always wanted to do.

2. Desire nothing outside your control

“Our master is anyone who has the power to implement or prevent the things that we want or don’t want.” — Epictetus

This might hurt, but needs to be said: Too many of us are slaves to external validation.

We crave likes on Instagram, promotions at work, and admiration from our peers. But guess what? All these things are beyond your control.

You can’t force someone to like your post, promote you, or admire you. So why waste your energy and peace of mind longing for them?

Instead, focus on what you can control. Your actions, thoughts, and response to adversity. These are the things that truly matter and form the backbone of a fulfilling life.

Try to avoid chasing after things you don’t control. Do that and you’ll reclaim your freedom.

3. Rely on yourself

“Withdraw into yourself as far as you can, and associate with those who will make you better. Invite those whom you can make better. This benefits both sides, and men learn while they are teaching.” — Seneca

It’s often easy to lose sight of the fact that the only person you can truly rely on is yourself. Friends come and go, circumstances change, jobs are lost, and even family can let you down.

That’s not to say you should isolate yourself or shun relationships. On the contrary, surround yourself with people who enrich your life and whom you, in turn, can uplift.

But in the end, you are your own best friend and worst enemy.

The choices you make, the habits you cultivate, and the mindset you adopt will determine your happiness and success.

4. Trust nature

“Something happens to you. Good. It was meant for you by nature, woven into the pattern from the beginning.” — Marcus Aurelius

Life is unpredictable. It’s filled with unexpected twists and turns that can either break us or make us stronger.

Trusting nature, as the philosopher king Marcus Aurelius said, is about embracing this unpredictability. When you do that, you gain the understanding that every event, good or bad, is part of your journey in life.

Got laid off? Maybe it’s an opportunity to pursue a passion project or start your own business. Went through a painful breakup? See it as a chance to rediscover yourself and grow as an individual. The economy is down? Take this opportunity to invest.

Instead of resisting change or dwelling on misfortune, embrace the unknown.

Trust that every experience, no matter how challenging, is a step forward on your path.

5. Do what you say

“Don’t expect to tell others what they should do when they know that you do what you shouldn’t.” — Musonius Rufus

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, practice what you preach.

It’s easy to spout wisdom, give advice, and criticize others. But living by your principles? That’s where the real challenge is.

Don’t be a hypocrite. Don’t lecture others about honesty if you lie. Don’t preach about hard work if you’re lazy.

If you want respect, admiration, or influence, earn it.

Show up, do the work, and lead by example.

It’s a cliche but it’s true: Actions do speak louder than words. So do what you truly want and believe in.

Do what you say not because you want the world to notice you. But because YOU notice it.

Read Next: