Keeping Your Cool: 40 Stoic Quotes On Taming Anger

Something may happen today that upsets you. Someone might be rude, your car could break down, an employee might mess something up despite your very careful instructions. Your instinct may be to yell and get angry. It’s natural.

But just because it’s “natural” doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Remember Marcus Aurelius’ observation, “how much more harmful are the consequences of anger…than the circumstances that aroused them in us.”

Yelling might make you feel better for a second, but does it actually solve the problem? Of course not. Arguing with a rude person only offers them more opportunity to be rude. Getting worked up over car trouble doesn’t fix the car, it just raises your blood pressure. Berating an employee who messed up? Now they’ll either resent you or they’ll be more likely to screw up again in the future because they’re nervous and self-conscious.

Anger only make things worse. Here are 40 Stoic quotes to keep in mind whenever you feel a fit of rage coming on:

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How much better to heal than seek revenge from injury. Vengeance wastes a lot of time and exposes you to many more injuries than the first that sparked it. Anger always outlasts hurt. Best to take the opposite course. — Seneca Click To Tweet
The greatest remedy for anger is delay. — Seneca Click To Tweet

“How much better to heal than seek revenge from injury. Vengeance wastes a lot of time and exposes you to many more injuries than the first that sparked it. Anger always outlasts hurt. Best to take the opposite course. Would anyone think it normal to return a kick to a mule or a bite to a dog?” — Seneca


What is more cruel than anger? What is more affectionate to others than man? Yet what is more savage against them than anger? Mankind is born for mutual assistance, anger for mutual ruin. — Seneca Click To Tweet

“No plague has cost the human race more dear: you will see slaughterings and poisonings, accusations and counter-accusations, sacking of cities, ruin of whole peoples, the persons of princes sold into slavery by auction, torches applied to roofs, and fires not merely confined within city-walls but making whole tracts of country glow with hostile flame.” — Seneca


If you want to determine the nature of anything, entrust it to time: when the sea is stormy, you can see nothing clearly. — Seneca Click To Tweet

“Some of the wisest of men have in consequence of this called anger a short madness: for it is equally devoid of self control, regardless of decorum, forgetful of kinship, obstinately engrossed in whatever it begins to do, deaf to reason and advice, excited by trifling causes, awkward at perceiving what is true and just, and very like a falling rock which breaks itself to pieces upon the very thing which it crushes.” — Seneca


Anger brings about nothing grand or beautiful. On the other hand, to be constantly irritated seems to me to be the part of a languid and unhappy mind, conscious of its own feebleness. — Seneca Click To Tweet
We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality. — Seneca Click To Tweet

“‘Anger is useful,’ says our adversary, ‘because it makes men more ready to fight.’ According to that mode of reasoning, then, drunkenness also is a good thing, for it makes men insolent and daring, and many use their weapons better when the worse for liquor. … No man becomes braver through anger, except one who without anger would not have been brave at all: anger does not therefore come to assist courage, but to take its place.” — Seneca


“Reason gives each side time to plead; moreover, she herself demands adjournment, that she may have sufficient scope for the discovery of the truth; whereas anger is in a hurry: reason wishes to give a just decision; anger wishes its decision to be thought just. … The sword of justice is ill-placed in the hands of an angry man.” — Seneca


“Keep this thought handy when you feel a fit of rage coming on— it isn’t manly to be enraged. Rather, gentleness and civility are more human, and therefore manlier. A real man doesn’t give way to anger and discontent, and such a person has strength, courage, and endurance— unlike the angry and complaining. The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength.” — Marcus Aurelius


Understand at last that you have something in you more powerful and divine than what causes the bodily passions and pulls you like a mere puppet. — Marcus Aurelius Click To Tweet

“If someone asks you how to write your name, would you bark out each letter? And if they get angry, would you then return the anger? Wouldn’t you rather gently spell out each letter for them? So then, remember in life that your duties are the sum of individual acts. Pay attention to each of these as you do your duty . . . just methodically complete your task.” — Marcus Aurelius


You shouldn’t give circumstances the power to rouse anger, for they don’t care at all. — Marcus Aurelius Click To Tweet

“Keep a list before your mind of those who burned with anger and resentment about something, of even the most renowned for success, misfortune, evil deeds, or any special distinction. Then ask yourself, how did that work out? Smoke and dust, the stuff of simple myth trying to be legend . . .” — Marcus Aurelius


How much more harmful are the consequences of anger and grief than the circumstances that aroused them in us! — Marcus Aurelius Click To Tweet

“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own—not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine.” — Marcus Aurelius


“When you think you’ve been injured, apply this rule: If the community isn’t injured by it, neither am I. And if it is, anger is not the answer. Show the offender where he went wrong. — Marcus Aurelius”]


“When people injure you, ask yourself what good or harm they thought would come of it. If you understand that, you’ll feel sympathy rather than outrage or anger. Your sense of good and evil may be the same as theirs, or near it, in which case you have to excuse them. Or your sense of good and evil may differ from theirs. In which case they’re misguided and deserve your compassion. Is that so hard?” — Marcus Aurelius


“None of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.” — Marcus Aurelius


It is possible to curb your arrogance, to overcome pleasure and pain, to rise above your ambition, and to not be angry with stupid and ungrateful people— yes, even to care for them. — Marcus Aurelius Click To Tweet

“[From Sextus] To investigate and analyze, with understanding and logic, the principles we ought to live by. Not to display anger or other emotions. To be free of passion and yet full of love.” — Marcus Aurelius


How satisfying it is to dismiss and block out any upsetting or foreign impression, and immediately to have peace in all things. — Marcus Aurelius Click To Tweet
The best way to avenge yourself is to not be like that. — Marcus Aurelius Click To Tweet

“As you move forward along the path of reason, people will stand in your way. They will never be able to keep you from doing what’s sound, so don’t let them knock out your goodwill for them. Keep a steady watch on both fronts, not only for well-based judgments and actions, but also for gentleness with those who would obstruct our path or create other difficulties. For getting angry is also a weakness, just as much as abandoning the task or surrendering under panic. For doing either is an equal desertion— the one by shrinking back and the other by estrangement from family and friend.” — Marcus Aurelius


It doesn’t hurt me unless I interpret it’s happening as harmful to me. I can choose not to. — Marcus Aurelius Click To Tweet
So other people hurt me? That's their problem. Their character and actions are not mine. — Marcus Aurelius Click To Tweet

“Keep in mind that it isn’t the one who has it in for you and takes a swipe that harms you, but rather the harm comes from your own belief about the abuse. So when someone arouses your anger, know that it’s really your own opinion fueling it. Instead, make it your first response not to be carried away by such impressions, for with time and distance self-mastery is more easily achieved.” — Epictetus


Another person will not hurt you without your cooperation. You are hurt the moment you believe yourself to be. — Epictetus Click To Tweet
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 Click To Tweet

“Every habit and capability is confirmed and grows in its corresponding actions, walking by walking, and running by running . . . therefore, if you want to do something make a habit of it, if you don’t want to do that, don’t, but make a habit of something else instead. The same principle is at work in our state of mind. When you get angry, you’ve not only experienced that evil, but you’ve also reinforced a bad habit, adding fuel to the fire.” — Epictetus


An angry man opens his mouth and shuts his eyes. — Cato The Elder Click To Tweet

Anger is not impressive or tough— it’s a mistake. It’s weakness. Depending on what you’re doing, it might even be a trap that someone laid for you. — The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman Click To Tweet

“Strength is the ability to maintain a hold of oneself. It’s being the person who never gets mad, who cannot be rattled, because they are in control of their passions— rather than controlled by their passions.” — The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman


“For those driven to the heights of hate or anger or obsession or perfectionism. Marcus liked to point out that Alexander the Great— one of the most passionate and ambitious men who ever lived— was buried in the same ground as his mule driver. Eventually, all of us will pass away and slowly be forgotten. We should enjoy this brief time we have on earth— not be enslaved to emotions that make us miserable and dissatisfied.” — The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman


“The first rule of holes, goes the adage, is that ‘if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.’ This might be the most violated piece of commonsense wisdom in the world. Because what most of us do when something happens, goes wrong, or is inflicted on us is make it worse— first, by getting angry or feeling aggrieved, and next, by flailing around before we have much in the way of a plan. Today, give yourself the most simple and doable of tasks: just don’t make stuff worse. Whatever happens, don’t add angry or negative emotions to the equation. Don’t react for the sake of reacting. Leave it as it is. Stop digging.” — The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman


“Our reaction is what actually decides whether harm has occurred. If we feel that we’ve been wronged and get angry, of course that’s how it will seem. If we raise our voice because we feel we’re being confronted, naturally a confrontation will ensue. But if we retain control of ourselves, we decide whether to label something good or bad. In fact, if that same event happened to us at different points in our lifetime, we might have very different reactions. So why not choose now to not apply these labels? Why not choose not to react?” — The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman


  • If you’re looking for more ways to manage anger, check out Taming Your Temper: The 10-Day Stoic Guide To Controlling Anger. Each day contains a full curriculum of advice, instructions, quotes from the Stoics, and exercises and challenges to complete. We will approach your anger problem comprehensively, attacking it from all sides in order to manage it and bring it under control. Learn more now

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