93 Stoic Quotes on Life Goes On

Updated October 25, 2022

When something sad, tragic, or disappointing happens to us, it's easy to feel like we will stay stuck in the same despairing mindset forever. We've compiled these Stoic quotes on life goes on to help you remember that your mindset and attitude are in your control.

One of the reasons that Stoicism has had a resurgence in popularity in recent years is that it can help us discard anxiety and other destructive emotions. If there's something that you need to move on from, stick with us while we explore what some of history's greatest minds have to say about pushing forward after loss, disappointment, and adversity.

Marcus Aurelius Quotes on Loss

Loss can come in many forms-- you can lose a job, a loved one, a home, a relationship, a pet, or your wallet. Regardless of what type of loss you are dealing with, it takes a lot of strength to find the ability to accept that someone or something meaningful and important to you is no longer a part of your life.

In the writings of Marcus Aurelius, we encounter the idea that change is a necessary part of existence and that learning to accept that change-- even loss-- is inherent to the nature of the universe.

marcus aurelius quote about loss and change

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

– Marcus Aurelius

"To love only what happens, what was destined. No greater harmony."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Death, like birth, is a secret of Nature."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Can we wonder that men perish and are forgotten, when their noblest and most enduring works decay? Death comes even to monumental structures, and oblivion rests on the most illustrious names."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Everything is ephemeral, both that which remembers and that which is remembered."

– Marcus Aurelius

Seneca the Younger Quotes on Loss

When we are deep in the grip of disappointment, sadness, or anger, it can be very difficult to imagine that we have the power to control our mindset. However, remembering the Stoic notion that it's not an occurrence that upsets us, but rather our perception of the occurrence, can help you see the light out of your despair.

"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

"The greatest loss of time is delay and expectation, which depend upon the future. We let go the present, which we have in our power, and look forward to that which depends upon chance, and so relinquish a certainty for an uncertainty."

– Seneca the Younger

"That loss is most discreditable which is caused by negligence."

– Seneca the Younger

"To lose a friend is the greatest of all evils, but endeavour rather to rejoice that you possessed him than to mourn his loss."

– Seneca the Younger

"Solitude and company may be allowed to take their turns: the one creates in us the love of mankind, the other that of ourselves; solitude relieves us when we are sick of company, and conversation when we are weary of being alone, so that the one cures the other. There is no man so miserable as he that is at a loss how to use his time."

– Seneca the Younger

"The things which we hold in our hands, which we see with our eyes, and which our avarice hugs, are transitory, they may be taken from us by ill luck or by violence; but a kindness lasts even after the loss of that by means of which it was bestowed; for it is a good deed, which no violence can undo."

– Seneca the Younger

Marcus Aurelius on Mistakes

Perhaps you aren't trying to remember that "life goes on" because you have suffered a great loss-- maybe instead, you have made a mistake that is gnawing at your insides. On the other hand, maybe you are struggling to accept and move on from a mistake that someone else has made that impacts you deeply.

Marcus Aurelius is here to remind us not to obsess over the mistakes of others as well as to admit when we are wrong ourselves and change our thinking and actions accordingly.

"Leave other people's mistakes where they lie."

– Marcus Aurelius

“If someone can prove me wrong and show me my mistake in any thought or action, I shall gladly change. I seek the truth, which never harmed anyone: the harm is to persist in one's own self-deception and ignorance.”

– Marcus Aurelius

"When you are annoyed at someone's mistake, immediately look at yourself and reflect how you also fail; for example, in thinking that good equals money, or pleasure, or a bit of fame. By being mindful of this you'll quickly forget your anger, especially if you realize that the person was under stress, and could do little else. And, if you can, find a way to alleviate that stress."

– Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius on the Past

It is terrifyingly easy to spend our entire lives living in the past. Marcus Aurelius does a beautiful job in his writing, helping to put the vast expanse of time in perspective and to help us learn to focus our energy and attention on the present. At the same time, we can learn tremendous things about ourselves and the world as a whole by peering into the past and understanding the patterns that will likely repeat themselves in the future.

marcus aurelius quote about the past future and present

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

– Marcus Aurelius

"Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too."

– Marcus Aurelius

"If you separate from . . . everything you have done in the past, everything that disturbs you about the future . . . and apply yourself to living the life that you are living-that is to say, the present-you can live all the time that remains to you until your death in calm, benevolence, and serenity."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Remember that even if you were to live for three thousand years, or thirty thousand, you could not lose any other life than the one you have, and there will be no other life after it. So the longest and the shortest lives are the same. The present moment is shared by all living creatures, but the time that is past is gone forever. No one can lose the past or the future, for if they don't belong to you, how can they be taken from you?
Letting go all else, cling to the following few truths."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Remember that man lives only in the present, in this fleeting instant: all the rest of his life is either past and gone, or not yet revealed. This mortal life is a little thing, lived in a little corner of the earth; and little, too, is the longest fame to come - dependent as it is on a succession of fast-perishing little men who have no knowledge even of their own selves, much less of one long dead and gone."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Don't let your imagination to be crushed by life as a whole. Don't try to pictures everything bad that could possibly happen. Stick with the situation at hand. ...Then remind yourself that past and present have no power over you. Only the present."

– Marcus Aurelius

"For a man can lose neither the past nor the future; for how can one take from him that which is not his? So remember these two points: first, that each thing is of like form from everlasting and comes round again in its cycle, and that it signifies not whether a man shall look upon the same things for a hundred years or two hundred, or for an infinity of time; second, that the longest lived and the shortest lived man, when they come to die, lose one and the same thing."

– Marcus Aurelius

"How very near us stand the two vast gulfs of time, the past and the future, in which all things disappear."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Do not disturb yourself by picturing your life as a whole; do not assemble in your mind the many and varied troubles which have come to you in the past and will come again in the future, but ask yourself with regard to every present difficulty: 'What is there in this that is unbearable and beyond endurance?'"

– Marcus Aurelius

"Consider in what condition both in body and soul a man should be when he is overtaken by death; and consider the shortness of life, the boundless abyss of time past and future, the feebleness of all matter."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Keep in mind how fast things pass by and are gone - those that are now, and those to come. Existence flows past us like a river; the "what" is in constant flux, the "why" has a thousand variations. Nothing is stable, not even what's right here. The infinity of past and future gapes before us - a chasm whose depths we cannot see."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Deem not life a thing of consequence. For look at the yawning void of the future, and at that other limitless space, the past.
Reflect often upon the rapidity with which all existing things, or things coming into existence, sweep past us and are carried away."

– Marcus Aurelius

"No one can lose either the past or the future - how could anyone be deprived of what he does not possess? ... It is only the present moment of which either stands to be deprived: and if this is all he has, he cannot lose what he does not have."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Remember that neither the future nor the past pains thee, but only the present. But this is reduced to a very little, if thou only circumscribest it, and chidest thy mind, if it is unable to hold out against even this."

– Marcus Aurelius

"It is not the weight of the future or the past that is pressing upon you, but ever that of the present alone. Even this burden, too, can be lessened if you confine it strictly to its own limits."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Past and future have no power over you. Just the present - and even that can be minimized."

– Marcus Aurelius

"Remember that man lives only in the present, in this fleeting instant; all the rest of his life is either past and gone, or not yet revealed."

– Marcus Aurelius

Seneca Quotes on the Past

Seneca the Younger has many quotable quotes about the fact that our time is best spent focusing on the present moment. We only have so much time on earth, after all, so why spend it ruminating and fretting over things that are completely out of your control?

seneca image and quote about the past and moving on

"Don't stumble over something behind you."

– Seneca the Younger

"The swiftness of time is infinite, as is still more evident when we look back on the past."

– Seneca the Younger

"Time discovers truth. Time heals what reason cannot."

– Seneca the Younger

"Whatever begins, also ends."

– Seneca the Younger

"The swiftness of time is infinite, as is still more evident when we look back on the past."

– Seneca the Younger

"Life is divided into three periods: that which has been, that which is, that which will be. Of these the present is short, the future is doubtful, the past is certain."

– Seneca the Younger

"Some there are that torment themselves afresh with the memory of what is past; others, again, afflict themselves with the apprehension of evils to come; and very ridiculously both - for the one does not now concern us, and the other not yet ... One should count each day as a separate life."

– Seneca the Younger

"We are wrong in looking forward to death: in great measure it's past already."

– Seneca the Younger

 

seneca image and quote about beginnings and endings

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

– Seneca the Younger

Seneca Quotes on Perspective

Sometimes, what we really need in order to move on in life is to zoom out and see the bigger picture. In these quotes, Seneca helps us see the great expanse of our lives and human history and proposes a mindset that will help us lead the best possible lives in a world where many things are out of our control.

"Floods will rob us of one thing, fire of another. These are conditions of our existence which we cannot change. What we can do is adopt a noble spirit, such a spirit as befits a good person, so that we may bear up bravely under all that fortune sends us and bring our wills into tune with natures."

– Seneca the Younger

"Cling tooth and nail to the following rule: not to give in to adversity, never to trust prosperity, and always take full note of fortune’s habit of behaving just as she pleases, treating her as if she were actually going to do everything it is in her power to do. Whatever you have been expecting for some time comes as less of a shock."

– Seneca the Younger

"Let us meet with bravery whatever may befall us. Let us never feel a shudder at the thought of being wounded or of being made a prisoner, or of poverty or persecution."

– Seneca the Younger

Epictetus Quotes on Perspective

Epictetus has a lot of mind-blowing advice about what is and what isn't in our control. If we are able to really grasp what he means when he says, "people are not disturbed by things, but by the view, they take of them," our entire lives can change for the better.

No longer are our perspectives something that happens to us, but rather something we have control over-- and this is a truth that can radically transform your life if you let it.

epictetus image and quote stoic quotes about life goes on

"We all carry the seeds of greatness within us, but we need an image as a point of focus in order that they may sprout."

– Epictetus

"People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them."

– Epictetus

"It’s something like going on an ocean voyage. What can I do? Pick the captain, the boat, the date, and the best time to sail. But then a storm hits… What are my options? I do the only thing I am in a position to do, drown — but fearlessly, without bawling or crying out to God, because I know that what is born must also die."

– Epictetus

"We should always be asking ourselves: “Is this something that is, or is not, in my control?”

– Epictetus

Other Stoic Quotes on Life Goes On

Many other great minds have proposed Stoic notions in relation to moving on from difficulty and adversity. Let's check in with Dr. Seus, Einstein, Picasso, and more about putting one foot in front of the other even when it feels like the sky is falling around us.

"Life moves on, whether we act as cowards or heroes. Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such."

– Henry Miller

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

– Dr. Seuss

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

– Robert Frost

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

– Albert Einstein

"Races and religions may have changed, but the marketplace, the living quarters, pilgrimage sites, places of worship, have remained the same. Venus is replaced by the Virgin, but the same life goes on."

– Pablo Picasso

"Nothing can drag you down if you're not holding on to it."

– Tony Robbins

Stoic Quotes on Loss

If you are struggling to move on from loss, consult the following quotes to help shine a light on the fact that "loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature's delight."

"Sometimes gain comes from losing, and sometimes loss comes from gaining."

– Laozi

"For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths."

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Stoic Quotes on Mistakes

No one likes making mistakes, but they are necessary for growth. Just like the great Teddy Roosevelt implied, (who, by the way, brought texts of Aurelius and Epictetus on his River of Doubt expedition,) the only way to avoid making mistakes is to never do anything.

"It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed."

– Theodore Roosevelt

"You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space."

– Johnny Cash

"A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new."

– Albert Einstein

"All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes."

– Winston Churchill

"The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything."

– Theodore Roosevelt

"Take chances, make mistakes. That's how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave."

– Mary Tyler Moore

Stoic Quotes About Grief

There is a common misconception that adopting Stoicism means being above the experience of emotions. That simply isn't the case, though, and trying to convince ourselves that we aren't feeling pain or grief when we are will only come back to bite us down the road.

As you see in the first Seneca the Younger quotes listed here, if we simply distract ourselves away from our grief with the idea that we have overcome it, it will rear its ugly head in a more destructive way when we least expect it.

"It is better to conquer our grief than to deceive it. For if it has withdrawn, being merely beguiled by pleasures and preoccupations, it starts up again and from its very respite gains force to savage us."

– Seneca the Younger

"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."

– Khalil Gibran

"Sorrow makes us all children again."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Grief. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That's the deal."

– C.S. Lewis

"Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief."

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

"What torments of grief you endured, from evils that never arrived."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"It is in the darkness that one finds the light."

– Meister Eckhart

"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

"Those things that hurt, instruct."

– Benjamin Franklin

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

– Reinhold Niebuhr

Quotes About the Past

If we are unable to move on from past events, it means we are unable to be fully present at the moment and fulfill our purposes and duties. Let's consult with the likes of Laozi, William James, and Ralph Waldo Emerson about accepting and moving on from the past.

"If you believe that feeling bad or worrying long enough will change a past or future event, then you are residing on another planet with a different reality system."

– William James

"The past has no power to stop you from being present now. Only your grievance about the past can do that. What is grievance? The baggage of old thought and emotion."

– Laozi

"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading."

– Laozi

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The wise man looks back into the past, and does not grieve over what is far off, nor rejoice over what is near; for he knows that time is without end."

– Laozi

"We cannot overstate our debt to the Past, but the moment has the supreme claim."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"We can see well into the past; we can guess shrewdly into the future, but that which is rolled up and muffled in impenetrable folds is today."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment."

– Gautama Buddha

"With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Be not the slave of your own past - plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Stoic Quotes on Perspective

If there is something you feel you simply cannot move on from and ample time has gone by, it's time to step back and take a look at your perspective. After all, you can't change what has already happened, and there are countless things you can't control in the present. What you can control, though, is your mindset and attitude.

Inside every difficulty, there is a gem hidden, though it can be very hard to see at first. When something tragic happens-- or even when something deeply inconvenient happens-- it can feel practically insulting for someone to advise that you look for the silver lining.

The reality is, though, that there are learning experiences in all adversity. Take a step back and take a look at your attitude, and brainstorm about the other possible ways you could look at the situation that would help you move on.

"If you correct your mind the rest of your life will fall into place."

– Laozi

"It is the eye which makes the horizon."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome."

– William James

"The years teach much which the days never know."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Thoughts become perception, perception becomes reality. Alter your thoughts, alter your reality."

– William James

"Dream delivers us to dream, and there is no end to illusion. Life is like a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue. . . ."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"If you can change your mind, you can change your life."

– William James

"What we seek we shall find; what we flee from flees from us."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact."

– William James

"Wisdom has its root in goodness, not goodness its root in wisdom."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes."

– William James

"If we shall take the good we find, asking no questions, we shall have heaping measures."

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Life goes on" is something that people often say with some level of exasperation and defeat, but you don't have to be one of them. Through the wisdom of the great Stoics, we know that we can control our perspective and attitude toward life, loss, and change. No matter what happens to us, we can handle it.

As Marcus Aurelius famously wrote, "you have power over your mind -- not external events. Realize this, and you will have strength."

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

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