Existentialism in Stoic Quotes: Part 3


“We humans are unhappy in large part because we are insatiable; after working hard to get what we want, we routinely lose interest in the object of our desire. Rather than feeling satisfied, we feel a bit bored, and in response to this boredom, we go on to form even grander desires.”

WILLIAM IRVINE. 1952 – PRESENT. professor of philosophy

We humans always want something. We will work extremely hard to get what we really want, and in the process, lose interest once we obtain our desire. We don’t want what we once did once we have it. We subconsciously begin to desire something bigger, and for lack of better word, better than our previous desire we have now. Most times we consciously plan how to get to our next desire. In a way, this is stoicism not because of who said the quote, but because it holds true to the stoic theory:

“To avoid unhappiness, frustration, and disappointment, we, therefore, need to do two things: control those things that are within our power (namely our beliefs, judgments, desires, and attitudes) and be indifferent or apathetic to those things which are not in our power (namely, things external to us).”

William R. Connolly

So how do our desires affect not only our quality of life, but our meaning of life in this moment? Do I believe the same thing about life as I did when you were 10? Of course not, because when I was 10, I was too young to understand life as I do now. I don’t believe the meaning of life is to bike around town all day, eat ice cream and pretend I’m a car. To some extent—yes, but on a grander scale, no. My experiences from the past 10 years have changed that, and I now believe I make and create my meaning of life; constantly it’s changing.

This quote also holds true to the existentialist belief that our wants and desires directly affect our meaning of life; and we have the choice to go after certain desires.

*In both philosophies, you see an agreement on the responsibility humans must have for their attitude, desires and beliefs. Ultimately a ‘happy life.’

As we tend to have many “wants” and simple needs we sometimes become apathetic to those external to us. People and things we can’t control; not in our power, we can choose to avoid. That choice borders the lines of existentialism, stoicism and nihilism. Our individual experience generally determine how apathetic or empathetic we become in our lifetime and what choices we will make in any given situation. Personally, I believe both apathy and empathy are needed to live a full-filling life.

Everything alive is constantly changing, as our desires do; it makes logical and philosophical sense. There is obviously more questions to ask about desire. Also many philosophical debates on if our desires are controlled by our conscious mind or subconsciously chosen… Though the stoic believes we have control over our desires, existentialism would argue it’s not the desire we have control over it’s the choice to pursue that desire or not. Again, I always go back to existentialism and how experience and choice is are major factors in what life means to us as individuals. Ex—If you were attacked by a dog, chances are you’ll grow up to love cats more; vice versa. This theory works with almost every situation in life. Our experience is almost our “destiny” as some say. As the ways we decide and react to things later in life are based our prior experiences, the experience itself is not always enough. The individual must learn from the experience by asking questions.

We have no destiny. Only experience.

We consciously and subconsciously create a meaning to life to keep us going. The nihilist may not know if, but if they are alive they are living through existentialism. Creating a meaning for the absurdity to live through it.


A wise man can learn more from a foolish question, than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”

BRUCE LEE. 1940 – 1973. actor + martial artist

How can you learn to listen if you never ask questions?

Even if you ask a foolish question, you will learn from that experience at the very least why it was a foolish question. Better yet, you may get a foolish answer, then leading you on a quest for the truest answer. (See Quotes Part 2)

Only a fool walks the thin red line of delusional perfection. Waging a war in their own mind between what should be done and what is being done. This isn’t necessary.

Sometimes, all what is necessary is a foolish question; unlocking the door to many wise answers.


Published by emriyus

I am human, just like you. I have been around for 20 years and although it may not be a lot of time to some, it feels like I've been alive forever. To cope with all the things my life has given me; good and bad, I've always been a writer. Maybe I didn't know or necessarily want to be a writer, but I was always on the creative side, not really understanding how different I was from others; I'm really not that different from you. To this day I'm still eager to learn more about myself, to improve and grow amorphously. I want to use this fuel of constant self-discovery as the direct source of 'energy' that can create whatever I want it to, making writing for me a healthier coping mechanism than most I've tried in my lifetime. That being said, I believe that starting my blog, The Existentialist, (all thanks to Wordpress and Bluehost teams) I finally have the opportunity and creative outlet to unleash my passion for art; writing. The beginning is never easy, and it won't get much easier I am aware. I can only believe in myself and keep my expectations to a minimum; I like to believe I hold no expectations, but they seem unavoidable. To whoever reads this, I'm not one to care about views or reads, I won't encourage/pressure you to read my work because for me, the thrill really comes from just making a finished piece of work I'm happy with, regardless if it is read by others or not; judgement from others is what I've feared all my life. I can only encourage you to have an open mind as a reader and believe in me as much as I believe in myself to accumulate the courage to start showing my creative writing(art) to the world. Everybody creates things in their lifetime, I am just another one of those beings; whether you like it or not, nouns (persons, places and 'things') exist to teach us something about ourselves. There is always more to learn...

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