87 Stoic Quotes About Jealousy and Envy

Updated December 1, 2022

This collection of Stoic quotes about jealousy and envy can help you deal with these complex emotions that strike all of us at some time or another. Jealousy and envy can involve deeply unpleasant feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, obsession, disgust, resentment, distrust, suspicion, criticism, and so much more.

Whether you are overcome with jealousy or dealing with the envy of others, Stoicism can help you remember that you are in control of your own thoughts and emotions and not those of other people. At the same time, it can help you reframe your understanding of your own life by teaching you to love your fate and to be grateful for the things you have rather than yearn for the things you don't.

Stoic Quotes About Envy

Envy is an emotion we have all felt, but that doesn't mean that it is something we should let control us. The Stoics believed that there are four passions that are largely responsible for our unhappiness: distress, fear, delight, and lust. They considered envy and jealousy to fall under the category of distress.

It's possible to escape the feeling of being distraught by envy even though it can feel all-consuming at the time. In fact, it's necessary to do so if we want to be happy and live a good life. After all, we only have so much time in our lives, and burning our energy, and feeling like we deserve things that others have, isn't going to get us any closer to a peaceful mind.

marcus aurelius image and quote about jealousy and envy

“Don’t set your mind on things you don’t possess…but count the blessings you actually possess and think how much you would desire them if they weren’t already yours.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“For where you find unrest, grief, fear, frustrated desire, failed aversion, jealousy and envy, happiness has no room for admittance. And where values are false, these passions inevitably follow.”

– Epictetus

“No evil is without its compensation. The less money, the less trouble; the less favor, the less envy. Even in those cases which put us out of wits, it is not the loss itself, but the estimate of the loss that troubles us.”

– Seneca the Younger

“When I think over what I have said, I envy the mute.”

– Seneca the Younger

“If you keep yourself calm, poised and dignified, if you observe rather than are observed, if you don’t envy people with greater success, don’t let externals disconcert you – if you do all this, what more do you need?”

– Epictetus

“All I desire is, that my poverty may not be a burden to myself, or make me so to others; and that is the best state of fortune that is neither directly necessitous nor far from it. A mediocrity of fortune, with gentleness of mind, will preserve us from fear or envy; which is a desirable condition; for no man wants power to do mischief.”

– Seneca the Younger

seneca image and quote about envy

“It is the practice of the multitude to bark at eminent men, as little dogs do at strangers.”

– Seneca the Younger

“When, therefore, you see anyone eminent in honors, or power, or in high esteem on any other account, take heed not to be hurried away with the appearance, and to pronounce him happy; for, if the essence of good consists in things in our own control, there will be no room for envy or emulation. But, for your part, don’t wish to be a general, or a senator, or a consul, but to be free…”

– Epictetus

“You must stop blaming God, and not blame any person. You must completely control your desire and shift your avoidance to what lies within your reasoned choice. You must no longer feel anger, resentment, envy, or regret.”

– Epictetus

"Blessed is he who has learned to admire but not envy, to follow but not imitate, to praise but not flatter, and to lead but not manipulate."

William Arthur Ward

"Five great enemies of peace inhabit us: avarice, ambition, envy, anger and pride."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Envy, the meanest of vices, creeps on the ground like a serpent."


"The secret of success is that it is not the absence of failure, but the absence of envy."

– Herodotus

"Envy is the ulcer of the soul."


Quotes About the Envy of Fame

It's easy to look at people who have been successful and that have even gained some fame from their pursuits and think, "why them and not me?" This might be particularly true in the age of information and with our incessant use of social media platforms, where we are constantly barraged by other people's carefully curated personas.

Seneca reminds us that fame isn't something to be envious of at all. In fact, many people who pursue the approval of others have done so "at the price of life." The father of ancient Greek tragedy, Aeschylus, helps us remember that, though it is difficult, it is important to be happy for our successful friends rather than envious.

“And so when you see a man often wearing the robe of office, when you see one whose name is famous in the Forum, do not envy him; those things are bought at the price of life. They will waste all their years, in order that they may have one year reckoned by their name.” 

– Seneca the Younger

"It is in the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered. "

– Aeschylus

The Destructive Nature of Envy

When you are overcome with envy, you are in many ways hoping for the downfall of another person while only actually harming yourself.

If you think back on a time when you have felt envious of someone else, consider what you were actually doing. You were lost in your own mind, consumed with the unpleasant feeling of envy, pouring all of your energy into a feeling that another person has something that you feel you deserve.

When you look at it like that, it seems kind of silly, doesn't it?

That's not to belittle the fact that envy can feel all-consuming when you're in its throes. The point is that everything we do is an opportunity cost, and when we are focused on feeling envious of someone else, we are doing so at the expense of everything else we could be doing.

The Stoics are always quick to remind us that we only have so much time in our lives and that we should be very careful with how we use this resource. The next time you feel jealous or envious, try to zoom out and see yourself from a wider perspective. If you were to die tomorrow, is this really how you would want to be spending your time?

Most likely, the answer is no. Envy is something that we direct toward others, but that only really destroys us.

In this collection of quotes, Seneca the Younger expresses the reality that passions such as envy are the driving factor that convinces us to try and destroy others and ourselves, while Musonius Rufus urges us to use our time towards things that lead to better outcomes.

seneca the younger image and quote about the destructive nature of envy

“Reflect on the things which goad man into destroying man: you will find that they are hope, envy, hatred, fear, and contempt.” 

– Seneca the Younger

“And yet would not anyone admit how much better it is, in place of exerting oneself to win someone else's wife, to exert oneself the discipline of one's desires; in place of enduring hardships for the sake of money, to train oneself to want little; instead of giving oneself trouble about getting notoriety; instead of trying to find a way to injure an envied person, to enquire how not to envy anyone; and instead of slaving, as sycophants do, to win false friends, to undergo suffering in order to possess true friends?”

– Musonius Rufus

"Never underestimate the power of jealousy and the power of envy to destroy. Never underestimate that."

– Oliver Stone

"Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind."

– Gautama Buddha

“Our envy of others devours us most of all.”

– Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Stoic Quotes About Jealousy

Even the most levelheaded person can become practically mad when they are overcome with jealousy-- it is an emotion that can include feelings like rage, humiliation, suspicion, fear, and much more.

We often think of jealousy in relation to romantic relationships, but we can find ourselves jealous of just about anyone if we let our emotions control our thinking.

Marcus Aurelius puts it so succinctly when he refers to jealousy as something that makes you "dance like a puppet." Jealousy can leave you saying and doing things you would never dream of with a more sound mind.

seneca the younger image and quote about jealousy and envy

“Envy of other people shows how they are unhappy. Their continual attention to others' behavior shows how they are boring.”

– Seneca the Younger

“It’s time you realized that you have something in you more powerful and miraculous than the things that affect you and make you dance like a puppet. What’s in my thoughts at this moment? Fear? Jealousy? Desire? Feelings like that?”

– Marcus Aurelius

"Keep your attention focused entirely on what is truly your own concern, and be clear that what belongs to others is their business and none of yours."

– Epictetus

“Never value anything as profitable to thyself which shall compel thee to break thy promise, to lose thy self-respect, to hate any man, to suspect, to curse, to act the hypocrite, to desire anything which needs walls and curtains.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“We can’t blame other people for making us feel stressed or frustrated any more than we can blame them for our jealousy. The cause is within us.”

– Ryan Holiday

"O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-ey'd monster, which doth mock The meat it feeds on."

William Shakespeare

"The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves."

– William Penn

Quotes About Envy From Other People

Sometimes, it's not our own envy that is plaguing us but someone else's. Perhaps you have achieved some success, come into some money, or won the heart of a sought-after partner. Regardless of the cause, taking a Stoic perspective on the fact that you can't control what others think, do, or say can be tremendously helpful.

Not only do you not have any control over the actions and thoughts of others, but the things that other people think can only hurt you if you allow them to.

marcus aurelius image and quote about letting go of envy and unwanted passions

“How easy it is to repel and release every impression which is troublesome and immediately to be tranquil.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“When men hate or blame you, or say hurtful things about you, look deeply into their hearts and see what kind of men they are. You'll see how unnecessary it is to strain after their good opinion. Yet you must still think kindly of them. they are your neighbors. The gods help them as they do you, by dreams and oracles, to win their hearts' desires.”

– Marcus Aurelius

"Nothing that goes on in anyone else's mind can harm you."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Remember that all is opinion."

Marcus Aurelius

“It’s a living soul I want one of you to show me, the soul of a person willing to work with, and never criticize, either God or a fellow human being. One who will never fail, or have experiences he does not want; who will never give in to anger, jealousy or the desire to dominate others.” 

– Epictetus

"Surrounded by the flames of jealousy, the jealous one winds up, like the scorpion, turning the poisoned sting against himself."

Friedrich Nietzsche

"Man will do many things to get himself loved, he will do all things to get himself envied."

– Mark Twain

“Envy shoots at others and wounds itself.”

– English Proverb

"Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't."

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Stoic Quotes About Human Nature

The reality is that jealousy and envy are deeply ingrained parts of human nature. In that sense, they are natural experiences-- but that doesn't mean we should let them control us or direct our actions.

If you are feeling jealous of someone else or envious of others that you feel have more than you, it's important to remember that the way you're feeling is a question of perception. And, as Marcus Aurelius says, it's your perception that "both happiness and unhappiness depend on."

“Both happiness and unhappiness depend on perception.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“A rational nature admits of nothing but what is serviceable to the rest of mankind.”

– Marcus Aurelius

"The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated."

– William James

"Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody."

Mark Twain

"Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is."

– William James

Quotes About Relating to Others

Maybe you are feeling jealous of someone else because you think they are better looking than you or they seem to have been born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Or, on the other hand, maybe you're a person that has worked hard and achieved great success only to find that your friends and acquaintances are so envious of you that it negatively impacts your relationships.

Either way, jealousy, and envy are emotions that inherently have to do with relating to other people. Marcus Aurelius reminds us of the importance of creating unity within our larger social system and that the thoughts of other people cannot harm us unless we allow them to.

“Since you are an integral part of a social system, let every act of yours contribute to the harmonization of social life. Any action that is not related directly or remotely to this social aim disturbs your life, and destroys your unity.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“The true joy of humankind is in doing that which is most proper to our nature; and the first property of people is to be kindly affected towards them that are of one kind with ourselves.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All of these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill... I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my kinsman or hate him; for we have come into the world to work together.”

– Marcus Aurelius

"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves."

Carl Jung

Quotes About Making Judgments

One of the aspects of Stoicism that can truly change your life is the realization that it's your own judgments about things that happen that upset you rather than the thing in itself.

For example, let's say that your spouse just got a new job that comes along with a big pay increase, a new office, and a fancy new car. He or she is ecstatic about the position and is receiving a lot of pats on the back and affirmation from colleagues, friends, and family.

Even though you want to feel happy for your spouse, you can't help but feel jealous. You start thinking of reasons why you are more deserving of all of the good things they have, and you start to worry that their new wealth and status are a threat to the stability of your marriage.

It's important in these types of moments to realize that you are upset because of the thoughts, feelings, and impressions in your own mind, not because of the event in itself.

"If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs you, but your own judgment about it. It is in your power to erase this judgment about it. If anything in your own nature gives you pain, you are who hinders you from correcting your opinion."

– Marcus Aurelius

"What disturbs people's minds are not events but their judgments on events."


"Treat with utmost respect your power of forming opinions, for this power alone guards you against making assumptions that are contrary to nature and judgments that overthrow the rule of reason."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Nothing outside the will can hinder or harm the will; it can only harm itself. If then we accept this, and, when things go amiss, are inclined to blame ourselves, remembering that judgment alone can disturb our peace and constancy, I swear to you by all the gods that we have made progress."


"Do not suffer a sudden impression to overbear your judgment."

– Marcus Aurelius

"If someone irritates you, it is only your own response that is irritating you. Therefore, when anyone seems to be provoking you, remember that it is only your judgment of the incident that provokes you."


Quotes About Appreciating What You Have

If you're wondering how to overcome jealousy and envy, one thing that can radically change the way you view your own life is to practice gratitude for the things you do have.

When you focus on the things you don't have and the people that possess them, you are keeping yourself farther away from happiness and peace of mind. When you instead turn your attention to all of the good things in your life and all of the ways that you are quite fortunate, it shifts your perspective tremendously.

"Each day provides its own gifts."

– Marcus Aurelius

"He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has."


"Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart."

– Seneca the Younger

"Let not your mind run on what you lack as much as on what you have already."

Marcus Aurelius

"We need to regularly stop and take stock; to sit down and determine within ourselves which things are worth valuing and which things are not; which risks are worth the cost and which are not. Even the most confusing or hurtful aspects of life can be made more tolerable by clear seeing and by choice."

– Epictetus

"The mind is a matter over every kind of fortune; itself acts in both ways, being the cause of its own happiness and misery."

Seneca the Younger

"Take full account of what Excellencies you possess, and in gratitude remember how you would hanker after them, if you had them not."

– Marcus Aurelius
"As gratitude is a necessary, and a glorious virtue, so also it is an obvious, a cheap, and an easy one; so obvious that wherever there is life there is a place for it; so cheap, that the covetous man may be gratified without expense, and so easy that the sluggard may be so likewise without labor."
Seneca the Younger

"Mark how fleeting and paltry is the estate of man - yesterday in embryo, tomorrow a mummy or ashes. So for the hairsbreadth of time assigned to thee, live rationally, and part with life cheerfully, as drops the ripe olive, extolling the season that bore it and the tree that matured it."

– Marcus Aurelius

"See how many are better off than you are, but consider how many are worse."

Seneca the Younger

"Look beneath the surface; let not the several quality of a thing nor its worth escape thee."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Great is he who enjoys his earthenware as if it were plate, and not less great is the man to whom all his plate is no more that earthenware."

Seneca the Younger

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.”

– Benjamin Franklin

"The desire for imaginary benefits often involves the loss of present blessings."


"Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life."


"A grateful mind is a great mind which eventually attracts to itself great things."


"I was complaining that I had no shoes till I met a man who had no feet."


"Gratitude is the sign of noble souls."


"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough."

Oprah Winfrey

Stoic Quotes About Loving Your Fate

One of the reasons we can feel jealous or envious is because it seems unfair that other people were born into circumstances we perceive as being better or more fortunate. There is always someone you can look to that has more than you, and even people that "have it all" can find themselves feeling deeply envious of others.

Instead of wishing you were born in a different place, a different time, or into a different family, you can practice the concept of amor fati-- loving your fate.

What does it mean to love your fate? It means that you accept the things that happen to you as necessary, even if they seem like terrible, rotten things at the time.

The reality is that adversity and hard times are often the things that make us stronger and better-- these are the opportunities we have to look inward and find inner resources we didn't know we had. Ultimately, facing difficulties in life is typically the material we need to grow as people, become resilient, and evolve into the best people we can be.

You could even go so far as to say that the people who are born with absolutely everything humans desire-- looks, money, fame, possessions-- aren't people to envy at all as they are less likely to be handed experiences by fate that help them develop as people.

"Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart."

– Marcus Aurelius

“Fate leads the willing, and drags along the reluctant.”

– Cleanthes

"Remember: Matter: how tiny your share of it. Time: how brief and fleeting your allotment of it. Fate: how small a role you play in it."

– Marcus Aurelius

“Don’t demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do happen, and you will go on well.”

– Epictetus

“Whatever the universal nature assigns to any man at any time is for the good of that man at that time.”

– Marcus Aurelius

"Welcome every experience the looms of fate may weave for you."
Marcus Aurelius

“It's the great soul that surrenders itself to fate, but a puny degenerate thing that struggles.”

– Seneca the Younger

"Submit to the fate of your own free will."

Marcus Aurelius

"Adapt yourself to the things among which your lot has been cast and love sincerely the fellow creatures with whom destiny has ordained that you shall live."

– Marcus Aurelius

"This is moral perfection: to live each day as though it were the last; to be tranquil, sincere, yet not indifferent to one's fate."

Marcus Aurelius

"Whatever may happen to thee, it was prepared for thee from all eternity."

– Marcus Aurelius

“You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you.” 
Viktor Frankl
"A will to live without rejecting anything of life, which is the virtue I honor most in this world."
– Albert Camus
"Stop wishing for something else to happen, for a different fate. That is to live a false life.”  
Robert Greene
If you're working to apply Stoic philosophy to your day-to-day life, reading quotes from the ancient Stoics and other great minds from history can serve as both an inspiration and a reminder. To help you along that path, we've created collections of Stoic quotes on countless topics-- everything from happiness and anxiety to life and death.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Written by: Sophia Merton
Sophia received her BA from Vassar College and has always maintained a deep interest in the question of how best to live one’s life. She hopes to help others understand how they can apply Stoicism in their day-to-day lives in order to become the person they want to be, embrace the present moment, pursue their purposes, and rid themselves of unnecessary anxiety.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This website provides the best stoic quotations on the topics of life, death, control, anxiety, and wisdom in general.

Memento Mori.
Copyright © 2024 - StoicQuotes.com
crossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram