201+ Most Inspirational Quotes of All Time

Updated December 28, 2022

Stoicism has inspired countless people to change their lives for the better. If you're looking for some powerful words to help you seize the day and live your best life, you'll want to read through our list of the most inspirational quotes of all time.

Whether you need some motivation to get moving for the day or you need help finding strength in adversity, you'll find what you're looking for here. This list consists of the most powerful quotes of all time from the ancient Stoics, as well as tons of other Stoic-minded thinkers, to give you the inspiration you need in any situation.

The Most Inspirational Stoic Quotes About Life

“As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”

– Seneca the Younger

"The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately."

– Seneca the Younger

"Our life is what our thoughts make it."

Marcus Aurelius

"While we are postponing, life speeds by."

– Seneca the Younger

"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

"Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life."

– Seneca the Younger

"Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them."

– Marcus Aurelius

"No greater thing is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen."

– Epictetus

"Whatever can happen at any time can happen today."

– Seneca the Younger

"The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing."

– Marcus Aurelius

“Life, if well lived, is long enough.”

– Seneca the Younger

"A person's life is dyed with the color of his imagination."

– Marcus Aurelius

"It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters."

– Epictetus

“As long as you live, keep learning how to live.”

Seneca the Younger

"Experience is not what happens to you; it's what you do with what happens to you."

– Aldous Huxley

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."

– Robert Frost

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all."

– Helen Keller

"It's better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way."

– Alan Watts

"Whether you choose to move on from your struggles and enjoy life or waddle in your misery, life will continue."

– Germany Kent

Quotes About Love

"Let no man think that he is loved by any who loveth none."


"Those alone are wise who know how to love."

– Seneca the Younger

"I shall show you a love potion without a drug, without a herb; without the incantation of any sorceress: if you want to be loved, love."

– Hecato

"Love, and you shall be loved."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Joy comes not through possession or ownership but through a wise and loving heart."

– Gautama Buddha

Stoic Quotes  About Positive Thinking

"Nothing truly stops you. Nothing truly holds you back. For your own will is always within your control."

– Epictetus

"Believe you can and you're halfway there."

– Theodore Roosevelt

"There is nothing impossible to they who will try."

Alexander the Great

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.”

– Michael Jordan

"A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire."

Thomas Merton

“If you put negative thoughts into your mind, you’re going to get negative results. It’s just as true that if you put positive thoughts in your mind, you will be a recipient of positive results.”

– Lou Holtz

"If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it."

– William James

Quotes About Having Power Over Your Mind

“The things you think about determine the quality of your mind. Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts.”

– Marcus Aurelius

"When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it; you can either accept it or resent it."

– Epictetus

“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.”

– Seneca the Younger

"Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Men are not troubled by things themselves, but by their thoughts about them."

– Epictetus

"If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely."

– Roald Dahl

"Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it."

– Louis Holtz

"No one can take your self-respect if you do not give it to them."

– Gandhi

“Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude.”

– Dale Carnegie

Quotes About Gratitude

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

– 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."

– Epictetus

"Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty."

– Doris Day

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

– John F. Kennedy

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

– Voltaire

“When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.”


Stoic Quotes About Purpose in Life

“If a man knows not which port he sails, no wind is favorable.”

– Seneca the Younger

"Don't be concerned with other people's impressions of you. They are dazzled and deluded by appearances. Stick with your purpose. This alone will strengthen your will and give your life coherence."

– Epictetus

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

– Mark Twain

"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream."

– C.S. Lewis

"He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how."

– Friedrich Nietzsche

“The person without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder.”

– Thomas Carlyle

“True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written, in writing what deserves to be read, and in so living as to make the world happier and better for our living in it.”

– Pliny the Elder

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Quotes About Staying True to Yourself

“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”

– Marcus Aurelius

"No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness."

– Seneca the Younger

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

– Henry David Thoreau

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

– Oscar Wilde

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

– Steve Jobs

“It is never to late to be what you might have been.”

– George Eliot

"You define your own life. Don't let other people write your script."

– Oprah Winfrey

"Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around."

– Henry David Thoreau

The Most Inspirational Quotes About Mastering Yourself

"No man is free who is not master of himself.”

– Epictetus

“Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power.”

– Seneca the Younger

"Any person capable of angering you becomes your master."

– Epictetus

"What worries you masters you."

– John Locke

"Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person."

– Albert Einstein

"A man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure."

– Oscar Wilde

"Make at least one definite move daily toward your goal."

– Bruce Lee

"Courage, hard work, self-mastery, and intelligent effort are all essential to a successful life."

– Theodore Roosevelt

"Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power."

Lao Tzu

“Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well-ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company.”

– Seneca the Younger

Quotes About Adversity

seneca image and quote about adversity

"No man is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity. For he is not permitted to prove himself."

– Seneca the Younger

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

– Marcus Aurelius

"It is difficulties that show what men are."

– Epictetus

“I judge you unfortunate because you have never lived through misfortune. You have passed through life without an opponent—no one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you.”

– Seneca the Younger

"In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present."

– Sir Francis Bacon

"It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light."

– Aristotle

"He who sweats more in training bleeds less in war."

– Greek Proverb

"Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you."

– Walt Whitman

"Energy and persistence conquer all things."

– Benjamin Franklin

"One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful."

– Sigmund Freud

The Best Quotes About Courage

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”

– Seneca the Younger

"Sometimes even to live is an act of courage."

– Seneca the Younger

“He who is brave is free.”

– Seneca the Younger

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

– Eleanor Roosevelt

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

– Winston Churchill

"All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination."

– Earl Nightingale

"The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials."

– Chinese Proverb

"Do one thing every day that scares you."

– Eleanor Roosevelt

"If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?"

– T.S. Eliot

Quotes About Amor Fati (Loving Your Fate)

“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

“Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will—then your life will flow well.”

– Epictetus

"We do not choose our own parts in life, and have nothing to do with those parts. Our duty is confined to playing them well."

– Epictetus

"We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us."

– Joseph Campbell

"You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing."

– Alan Watts

"When fate hands you a lemon, make lemonade."

– Dale Carnegie

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it isn’t okay, it isn’t the end.”

– Paulo Coelho

Stoic Quotes About Loss

"Loss is nothing else but change, and change is nature's delight."

– Marcus Aurelius

"The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless."

– Alan Watts

“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”

– Leo Tolstoy

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars, the deeper the grief, the closer is God.”

– Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Best Quotes About Desire

"The flourishing life cannot be achieved until we moderate our desires and see how superficial and fleeting they are."

– Epictetus

“No person has the power to have everything they want, but it is in their power not to want what they don’t have, and to cheerfully put to good use what they do have.”

– Seneca the Younger

“Curb your desire—don’t set your heart on so many things and you will get what you need.”

– Epictetus

"Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling the desire."

– Epictetus

“The talent for being happy is appreciating and liking what you have, instead of what you don’t have.”

– Woody Allen

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

– Abraham Lincoln

"Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed."

– Benjamin Franklin

Inspirational Quotes About Success and Failure

"No matter what happens, it is within my power to turn it to my advantage."

– Epictetus

“It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.”

– Seneca the Younger

“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

– Winston Churchill

“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”

– Napoleon Hill

"Failure is the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently."

– Henry Ford

“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”

– Albert Einstein

“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him.”

– Viktor Frankl

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

– Aristotle

“Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.”

– Thomas Edison

"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence."

– Vince Lombardi

"Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it."

– Henry David Thoreau

"Life grants nothing to us mortals without hard work."

– Horace

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

– Confucius

"Keep your head up in failure, and your head down in success."

– Jerry Seinfeld

"Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat."

– F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."

– Thomas A. Edison

Quotes About Inner Strength

“Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“The only journey is the one within.”

– Rainer Maria Rilke

"What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence, but it comes from within. It is there all the time.”

– Anna Freud

"As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of heart is developed."

– Vincent van Gogh

“It is worth remembering that the time of greatest gain in terms of wisdom and inner strength is often that of greatest difficulty.”

– Dalai Lama

"Nothing can dim the light which shines from within."

– Maya Angelou

Quotes About Personal Growth

epictetus image and quote about adveristy

"Circumstances don't make the man, they only reveal him to himself."

– Epictetus

“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?” 

– Epictetus

"Try not to react merely in the moment. Pull back from the situation. Take a wider view. Compose yourself."

– Epictetus

“Don’t wish it was easier. Wish you were better.”

– Jim Rohn

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

– Viktor Frankl

"Trying to grow up is hurting. You make mistakes. You try to learn from them, and when you don't, it hurts even more."

– Aretha Franklin

"What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals."

– Zig Ziglar

"In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety."

– Abraham Maslow

“Smart people learn from everything and everyone, average people from their experiences, stupid people already have all the answers.”

– Socrates

"It's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then."

– Lewis Carroll

The Best Quotes to Inspire You to Take Action

“Do not be wise in words - be wise in deeds.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”

– Epictetus

“Men can be divided into 2 groups: one that goes ahead and achieves something, and one that comes after and criticizes.”

– Seneca the Younger

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

– Mark Twain

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now."

– Chinese Proverb

"If my mind can conceive it, if my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it."

– Muhammad Ali

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving."

– Albert Einstein

"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."

– Walt Disney

"We are not our best intentions. We are what we do."

– Amy Dickinson

"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."

– Thomas Jefferson

"As you start to walk out on the way, the way appears."

– Rumi

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did."

– Mark Twain

"Well done is better than well said."

– Benjamin Franklin

"Action is the foundational key to all success."

– Pablo Picasso

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."

– Lao Tzu

"Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do."

– Johann Von Goethe

"The smallest deed is better than the grandest intention."

– John Burroughs

Quotes About Change

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

– Socrates

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance."

– Alan Watts

Stoic Quotes About Happiness

"Freedom and happiness are won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control."

– Epictetus

“True happiness is... to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.”

– Seneca the Younger

"Try to enjoy the great festival of life with other men!"

– Epictetus

"The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it."

– Eckhart Tolle

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”

– Dalai Lama XIV

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or objects.”

– Albert Einstein

“Contentment always eludes those who don’t count themselves blessed for what they already have.”

– Anonymous

"A harvest of peace is produced from a seed of contentment."

– Proverb

Quotes About Living in the Present

"Expectations are the greatest impediment to living. In anticipation of tomorrow, we lose today."

– Seneca the Younger

seneca image and quote about being present in the moment

"Don't stumble over something behind you."

– Seneca the Younger

“Give yourself a gift: the present moment.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“Life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future.”

– Seneca the Younger

"Every man's life lies within the present; for the past is spent and done with, and the future is uncertain."

– Marcus Aurelius

“A man who suffers before it is necessary, suffers more than is necessary.”

– Seneca the Younger

"No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now."

– Alan Watts

"I don't look ahead. I'm right here with you. It's a good way to be."

– Danny DeVito

"Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it."

– Khalil Gibran

"This is the real secret of life– to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play."

– Alan Watts

Quotes About Negative Emotions

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“How does it help…to make troubles heavier by bemoaning them?”

– Seneca the Younger

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

– Maya Angelou

Stoic Quotes About Time

“People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.”

– Seneca the Younger

"No loss should be more regrettable to us than losing our time, for it is irretrievable."

– Zeno of Citium

"Only time can heal what reason cannot."

– Seneca the Younger

"A person who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life."

– Charles Darwin

Quotes About Being Virtuous

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.”

– Marcus Aurelius

marcus aurelius image and quote about being a good man

“Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.”

– Epictetus

"What is a good person? One who achieves tranquillity by having formed the habit of asking on every occasion, "what is the right thing to do now?""

– Epictetus

"The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as of the greatest virtues."

– Rene Descartes

"Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point."

– C. S. Lewis

“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

– Thomas Jefferson

Stoic Quotes About Other People

“Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.”

– Seneca the Younger

"Another person cannot hurt you without your cooperation; you are hurt the moment you believe yourself to be."

– Epictetus

"He that does good to others does good to himself."

– Seneca the Younger

“You cannot save people, you can just love them.”

– Anais Nin

"Forgive many things in others; nothing in yourself."

– Ausonius

"Comparison is the thief of joy."

– Theodore Roosevelt

"Don't be distracted by criticism. Remember-- the only taste of success some people get is to take a bite out of you."

– Zig Ziglar

Quotes About Death

Death smiles at us all, all a man can do is smile back.”

– Marcus Aurelius

“He who fears death will never do anything worthy of a man who is alive.”

– Seneca the Younger

marcus aurelius image and quote about not fearing death

"It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Those who are afraid of death will carry it on their shoulders."

– Federico Garcia Lorca

"Do not fear death so much, but rather the inadequate life."

– Bertolt Brecht

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose."

– Steve Jobs

“Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.”

– Haruki Murakami

Sometimes you just need the right quote to help you find your own inner strength to carry on. If you're looking for more Stoic wisdom to inspire and motivate you, check out the rest of our Stoic quotes blog.

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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.

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