In this article, I would like to go through some Stoic quotes and statements which can help you reflect about how it is like – and what it truly means to live with less. At first, this can seem odd, why would anyone in the world want to do that? Isn’t the contemporary world going in the opposite direction? But then, what is enough, how can we deduce its meaning with so many perspectives in the world? Instead of following this kind of attitude, we can see what Stoics have to say about life and possessions. We will start with Epictetus.
Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.Epictetus
People often relate wealth with material goods, like money, property, status, etc. If you have many wishes and cravings, then, no matter how much you have, you will always feel poor. It will create a bottomless pit which can never be filled. Instead, Epictetus suggests replacing your many wants with a few. Think, what do you truly want, what is the most important thing in your life?
We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.Seneca
We are often prone to imagine ourselves in another situation which is better or worse than the one we are currently in. Having lots of thoughts that reflect something that isn’t real (imagining some future event, or lamenting the past), humans often overburden themselves with unnecessary emotions such as sadness, anxiety, anger, envy, etc. Focus on the moment and live it, do what you can and don’t make excuses to postpone the present. It is like rejecting the gift (given moment) for promises (which can’t be guaranteed to happen)
You are better off not giving the small thing more time then they deserve.Marcus Aurelius
How many times did you spend your time on some activity that didn’t actually deserve your attention? Did you feel emptiness after it? The thing with small things is obvious, they look small and they seem manageable at any time. However, many small things combined will become huge.
Small things should also be considered in terms of their real value. For example, there are persons and opinions that don’t impact our life in any serious sense, but we are able to spend lots of energy on them. Remember how social media works, comments from distant people can make you angry, sad or anxious, and you will fight over something that really doesn’t matter from a broader perspective.
You can discard most of the junk that clutters your mind…and clear out space for yourself… by comprehending the scale of the world… by contemplating infinite time… by thinking of the speed with which things change — each part of everything; the narrow space between our birth and death; the infinite time before; the equally unbounded time that follows.Marcus Aurelius
This quote is the reflection of the last one. Many things in this world can clutter our mind. Try to meditate, ask yourself bigger questions, have a conversation with yourself. Very often, our mind is burdened with useless information which inhibits our personal growth. Clear out some space for yourself, value yourself.
The wise man is neither raised up by prosperity nor cast down by adversity; for always he has striven to rely predominantly on himself, and to derive all joy from himself.Seneca
Those who rely on external things for happiness will never achieve it. They may experience excitement and temporary happiness, but Seneca is stating something different. True happiness and joy come from within. Those are the states of mind, which can’t be taken away by external factors. The inner joy is simple because it does not depend on something that is not fully in your control. It just depends on us.