Need some ancient inspiration? Here are some of our favorite Stoic quotes about caring for others.
"The very first thing philosophy promises is fellow feeling, a sense of togetherness among human beings."
- Seneca, Moral Letters, 5.4
"No one can live a happy life if he only looks to himself, turning everything to his own advantage. If you want to live for yourself, you must live for another; it holds that there is a common law of humankind." - Seneca, Moral Letters, 48.2
"Always keep the following points in mind: what the nature of the whole is, and what my own nature is; and how my nature is related to that of the whole, and what kind of apart it is of what kind of a whole; and that no one can prevent you, in all that you do and say, from always being in accord with that nature of which you are a part."
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 2.9
"It is the way of one person, when he has done someone a good turn, to count as a matter of course on being repaid in kind. Another is not as quick to do so, but all the same, in his own mind, he regards the beneficiary as being in his debt, and he is conscious of what he has done. A third is, in a sense, not even conscious of what he has done; he is rather like a vine which has produced its grapes, and seeks for no further reward once it has borne its proper fruit, as with a horse when it has run its race, or a dog when it has followed its trail, or a bee when it has made its honey. And such a person, when he has done a good deed, does not shout about it, but passes straight on to the next one, as a vine yields a new cluster of grapes when the season comes around."
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 5.6
"Adapt yourself to the circumstances in which your lot has cast you; and love these people among whom your lot has fallen, but love them in all sincerity."
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.39
"All that happens to the individual is to the benefit of the whole; and that should be sufficient. But if you look carefully, you will generally observe this further point, that what benefits one person also brings benefit to others."
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.45
"Just as with the limbs of the body in individual organisms, rational beings likewise in their separate bodies are constituted to work together in concert. The thought of this will strike you more forcibly if you say to yourself again and again, 'I am a limb of the common body formed by all rational beings.' If, however, you call yourself merely a part, you have not learned to love your fellows with all your heart, nor do you yet rejoice in doing good for its own sake; for you are still doing it simply as a duty, and not yet in the conviction that you are thus doing good to yourself."
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 7.13
"It is a special characteristic of human beings to love even those who stumble."
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 7.22
"Human beings have come into the world for the sake of one another; either instruct them, then, or put up with them." - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 8.59
"It is not in feeling but in action that the good of a rational social creature lies; just as his virtue or wickedness lies not in feeling but in action."
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 9.16
"Since you yourself are one of the parts that serve to perfect a social system, let your every action contribute to the perfecting of social life. Any action of yours, then, that has no reference, whether direct or indirect, to these social ends, tears your life apart, prevents it from being at one, and creates division, as does the citizen in a state who for his own part cuts himself off from the concord of his fellows."
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 9.23
"Have I done something useful to my fellows? Then I have already profited. May you keep this thought ever at hand and never cease from such action."
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 11. 4
"Nothing great comes into being all at once, for that is not the case even with a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me now, 'I want a fig,' I'll reply, 'That takes time.' Let the fig tree first come into blossom and then bring forth its fruit, and then let the fruit grow to ripeness. So even if the fruit of a fig tree doesn't come to maturity all at once and in a single hour, would you seek to gather the fruit of a human mind in such a short time and with such ease?"
- Epictetus, Discourses, 1.15, 8