The Stoic motto, “live according to Nature,” sounds good, but what does that mean exactly?
Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, was the first to use that phrase, “live according to Nature,” and what it means exactly is that Stoics look to Nature as their guide to life. We believe that Nature teaches us everything we need to know about how to live well in this world. That is why Stoic physics is so important. In antiquity, physics was known as natural philosophy, and by studying nature we come to know ourselves and what makes us happy and successful and wise.
Later, another great Stoic, Panaetius, expanded the original motto to include not just nature in general, but also the nature of the individual. Each one of us has a unique personality, including different talents and capacities we can develop to achieve our highest ideal. So, living according to Nature also means to live in accordance with one's own nature. Epictetus, a Roman Stoic teacher, said, “If you have assumed any character beyond your strength, you have both demeaned yourself in that, and neglected one which you might have filled with success.” The wise live according to both human nature in general and one's individual nature in particular.
To follow ones nature is the best path to fulfilling oneself and to reach greater heights as a human being. Our natures are our intrinsic needs and wants to deny them would be detrimental to us and to cater to our personal natures we would have to first look into ourselves and try to find the best understanding of what we as an individual are and work to fullfil all that the individual personality of our needs. Then we can try to influence or guide others to the same paths to their own personal greatness.