Stoic philosophy is an elegant, versatile school of thought that can’t be summed up with just a few words. But if someone asked you “what is Stoicism?” and you were forced to describe it in one simple sentence, what would you write? We asked some well-known Stoic thinkers, and here’s what they said.

Definition of Stoicism

How Would You Define Stoicism in One Sentence?

William B. Irvine

Author, Professor of Philosophy

William Irvine Stoicism

“Stoicism teaches you to do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.”

Massimo Pigliucci

Author, Professor of Philosophy

Massimo Pigliucci Stoicism

“Stoicism is a philosophy of life that teaches us to cultivate wisdom, courage, justice, temperance, and the idea that humanity is one big family that we should support.”

Donald J. Robertson

Author, Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapist

Donald Robertson Stoicism

“It’s a philosophy of life that entails living consistently in accord with the value of cultivating moral wisdom, and exercising self-discipline and courage in the service of this goal.”

Nancy Sherman

Author, Professor of Philosophy

Nancy Sherman Stoicism

“The Stoics are practical philosophers who want to arm us, through a kind of emotional training, against the slings and arrows of fortune, but they insist that we lose our humanity if we try to become invulnerable.”

Tanner Campbell

Host of the Practical Stoicism Podcast

Tanner Campbell Stoicism

“Stoicism is a philosophical and ethical framework which enables individuals practicing it to develop virtuous characters and thus achieve a flourishing life.”

Cristina DiGiacomo

Author, Chief Philosophy Officer

Christina DiGiacomo Stoicism

“Stoicism is a way of engaging with the world without your mind getting in the way.”

David Fideler

Author, Speaker

David Fideler Stoicism

“Consistently applied, human excellence or virtue overcomes the vagaries of chance or Fortune.”

Sharon Lebell

Author, Speaker

Sharon Lebell Stoicism

“Do what works. Quit doing what doesn’t.”

Phil Van Treuren

Author, Entrepreneur

Phil Van Treuren Stoicism

“Stoicism is focusing on things that are in your control, overcoming negative emotions, living in the present moment, helping others for the common good, and finding opportunity in every obstacle.”

Chuck Chakrapani

Educator, Author

Chuck Chakrapani Stoicism

“Never concern yourself with what is not under your control, but act on what is with wisdom, justice, courage and moderation.”

Michael McGill

Author, “The Stoic CIO”

Michael McGill Stoicism

“Stoicism acts as my operating system for life by optimizing my thinking to help me be more accepting, objective, and unselfish.”

Ronald Pies

Physician, Poet, Author

Ronald Pies Stoicism

“Stoicism teaches us to cultivate moderation, self-mastery, and virtuous behavior, while focusing our energy only on things over which we have some control.”

Brad Inwood

Author, Professor of Philosophy

Brad Inwood Stoicism

Stoicism provides a “grand, integrative vision of a good human life, guided by the relentless and unsentimental use of reason in a quest for the best available understanding of the orderly world around us”. P. 109 of Stoicism: A Very Short Introduction – Brad Inwood – Oxford University Press (

Jules Evans

Writer, Speaker, Practical Philosopher

Jules Evans Stoicism

“My sentence doesn’t sum Stoicism up but it’s the most useful part of it for newbies: ‘it’s not events but our opinion about events that cause us suffering’ (Epictetus).”

Jon Brooks

Writer, Martial Artist, Meditation Teacher

Jon Brooks Stoicism

“Stoic philosophy is a school of ancient Greek philosophy that emphasizes the development of self-control, emotional resilience, and personal ethics in the face of adversity.”

Bob Cymber

Stoic Coach

Bob Cymber Stoicism

“An ancient philosophy that includes a catalogue of mental tools and insights to help people live a healthy and fulfilling life.”

Enda Harte

Writer, Music Manager

Enda Harte Stoicism

“Stoicism is a guidance system for living, that when learned and applied correctly can help you achieve real tranquility and contentment.”

Brittany Polat

Author, Speaker

Brittany Polat Stoicism

“Stoicism helps us live a good, happy, and meaningful life by focusing on the most important things (our character and connections with other people) and not worrying about the less important things.”

Antonia Macaro

Author, Psychotherapist

Antonia Macaro Stoicism

“To live according to reason is the only real good.”

Patrick Ussher

Author, Composer

Patrick Ussher Stoicism

“Stoicism is about fundamentally reordering your values system so that you prioritise first and foremost the kind of person that you are and, more specifically, that you prioritise being a person who prizes cultivating the various ethical qualities (e.g. patience, courage, kindness, moderation) that allow you to meet well the specific challenges that your life brings.”

Alex J. Hughes

Writer, Product Leader

Alex Hughes Stoicism

“Stoicism is an operating system that allows you to quiet the noise, identify your guiding principles, and focus on what truly matters — living a meaningful life, as defined by you.”

Piotr Stankiewicz

Author, Philosopher

Piotr Stankiewicz Stoicism

“I’ll go with the 5 A’s principle. That is: accept the assignment and act ably!”

Kai Whiting

Author, Researcher, Lecturer

Kai Whiting Stoicism

“Stoicism is the lifelong art of living a life worthy of being lived.”

Benny Voncken

Writer, “The Stoic Padawan”

Benny Voncken Stoicism

“An ancient training program that echoes true till today, creating virtuous minds to deal in peace with all that fate has to offer.”

Brandon Tumblin

Podcast Host, Coach, Writer

Brandon Tumblin Stoicism

“Stoicism is about strength of character, and strength is the ability to resist . . . Stoics resist bodily desires, the pull to conform to the crowd, vicious temptations, fear within us pushing us into cowardice, etc. in such a way that is good for the cosmos, now, but also as we move forward in time.”