Stoicism allows you to control what you can and let go of what you cannot. It helps you to choose your attitude, to live in the moment, and make sense of your circumstances. Living a more Stoic life will give you the opportunity to live a mentally healthier, more balanced, and overall happier life. The Stoicism Book of Quotes
We live in chaotic times. Where to seek inspiration? Perhaps going back – way back – to Stoicism, a school of thought that flourished in Greek and Roman times.
The Stoicism Book of Quotes – Over 200 Inspirational quotations from the greatest stoic philosophers, could not come at a better time. With two wars now raging, the U.S. Congress in turmoil, and our democracy under threat, controlling what we can through our own feelings and actions is the best way to navigate these challenges.
We asked Nick Beans and Kortney Yasenka, who pulled together these inspirational quotes, about the book. Beans grew up in Guilford, Connecticut, and received his undergraduate degree in sociology and his M.S. in public policy from Southern Connecticut State University. He is a former United States Marine Sergeant and Iraqi combat veteran with a background in martial arts. Kortney Yasenka is a licensed clinical mental health counselor who provides individual, family, and group therapy, as well as life coaching services. She has a masters in counseling psychology with a concentration in health psychology from Northeastern University,.
What inspired your interest in Stoicism? Has it been a lifelong focus, or did one particular event cause you to focus on this philosophy?
Nick Benas: Stoicism has been a lifelong focus for me. Many people find inspiration to explore Stoicism for various reasons, and I believe it transcends any single event or moment in their lives. It is no longer an antiquated term confined to the upper echelons of academia but has gained popularity in today’s lexicon and pop culture. Stoicism, as a philosophical school of thought, has appealed to a wide spectrum of individuals, ranging from United States Marines and POWs like Naval Aviator James Stockdale in Vietnam, who applied its teachings in order to endure, to contemporary professional athletes and entrepreneurs seeking to elevate their performance.
For some, their interest in stoicism may be ignited by exposure to ancient Stoic texts, such as Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations,” just as it was for me at a young age; the impact of the book was truly life-changing. Others may stumble upon Stoicism through significant life events, personal challenges, or a simple desire for personal growth and a more rational approach to life’s trials. Stoicism’s emphasis on virtue, wisdom, and resilience can be particularly alluring to those who aim to navigate life’s ups and downs with greater equanimity.
Kortney Yasenka: Even before knowing what Stoicism was, I always possessed a positive and optimistic mindset. Modeled by my parents from a very young age, I held the belief “mind over matter.” It was instilled in me that you always have control over your thoughts, behaviors, and actions.
Explain the process for selecting the quotations in the book. How did you come up with the chapter headings?
Nick Benas: The subject matter comprises a compilation of writings and documented discussions we are currently having and using for our other book topics in progress. The content is evergreen and can be enjoyed for generations to come. The chapter headings are simple topics of curiosity…the questions and concerns everyone has around living well and having sound mental hygiene.
Why did you feel it was important to publish this book now?
Kortney Yasenka: Although Stoicism is an ancient philosophy, the wisdom in the philosophers’ words and way of life resonates still today. The basic concepts of Stoicism can be applied to all areas of life, especially (but not only) during difficult times. During uncertain times, anxieties can increase and one way to decrease anxious feelings and stress is to gain control: control over one’s emotions, responses, outlook, and mindset. This book is a timely publication and a reminder that inner peace and balance can be found during any circumstance.
Nick Benas: All these great Stoics can be found in one place instead of sifting through old dusty texts.
How should readers digest this book? One quote or chapter a day? Read in one day? Or go back to numerous times?
The book can be read daily for inspiration or casually as a buffet…jumping around from page to page, depending on one’s mood.
In your introduction, you say: “Stoicism allows you to control what you can and let go of what you cannot.” That sounds a lot like the Serenity Prayer: “O God, give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed, the courage to change what can be changed, and the wisdom to know the one from the other.” In both cases it sounds simple, but applying it to current events can be difficult. Given some of the critical issues Americans now face, how do individuals choose what they can do and what is out of their hands?
Kortney Yasenka: The basis of cognitive behavioral therapy, which is rooted in Stoicism, emphasizes the idea that thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes affect your feelings and actions. The notion that the way you think about a situation can affect how you feel about a situation is the idea behind positive and realistic thinking. Even if you can’t change the situation, you can always change how you think about the situation. It teaches the mindset that you are responsible for your own actions and choices. Stoicism gives you the freedom of choice and holds the belief that you are not bound to circumstances.
Viewing situations with a Stoic mindset allows you to gain control over your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It allows you to thoughtfully decide how to respond and react. Stoicism provides you with better emotional regulation and a greater understanding of the situation. It allows you to focus on only what is within your control (your thoughts, your reactions, your decisions, your behaviors) and to let go of things you cannot control.
Reminding yourself, especially during difficult times, that you can adapt to situations by acknowledging and accepting the circumstances and then focusing on what is within your control, such as your attitude and approach can help you feel better and become more resilient. It’s not to say that situations won’t impact you, but embracing the stoic mindset will help you see the opportunity in situations and focusing on what you can do.
Critics might say that Stoicism seems a little Pollyannish, too optimistic. Did those you quote in the book have different perspectives on living a stoic life?
Stoicism is more of an exploration of hardship(s) in living and one’s acceptance with mortality. Optimism is a byproduct, only if one starts to understand and incorporate these frameworks.
How has embracing Stoicism affected your own lives, work and personal?
Kortney Yasenka: Being a licensed clinical mental health counselor whose treatment modality is mainly cognitive behavioral therapy and positive psychology, Stoicism fits well into my professional life. The mindset of letting go of what you can’t control has helped a lot of my clients with anxiety and depression. The idea of being in control of your emotional responses and not allowing your emotions to control you has been very beneficial to my clients.
Personally, I also hold many Stoic beliefs that emphasize the fact that your thoughts become your reality and the way you think about a situation can significantly impact your overall well-being.
How do you hope this book, quotes from “the greatest Stoic philosophers” will inspire others, particularly those with true power to change things?
Kortney Yasenka: If everyone possessed a Stoic mindset there is potential for everyone to remain calm and in control of their emotions during difficult situations. Stoicism can help everyone think logically and make thought-out decisions. Perhaps the world would be less reactive and more thoughtful. The Stoic mindset acknowledges that we are part of a greater whole. To understand our human purpose, we must possess a sense of belonging to something larger.
What is your favorite quote in the book and how does it inform your approach to living?
Nick Benas: From Plato: “Courage is knowing what not to fear.” Fear always informs my decision making. In our complex journey through life, fear often emerges as the prime instigator of both inaction and reckless behavior.
Kortney Yasenka: One of my favorite quotes is, “Our life is what our thoughts make of it” from Marcus Aurelius. How you think about yourself, others, and situations directly impacts your happiness, mindset, and overall well-being. Your thoughts have the power to influence every aspect of your life. Positive thoughts create a positive life.
The Stoicism Book of Quotes
Nick Benas and Kortney Yasenka
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