Epictetus

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.

Epictetus

After attaining his freedom, Epictetus spent his entire career teaching philosophy and advising a daily regimen of self-examination.

Aversion and Desire

Keep in mind that desire presumes your getting what you want and that aversion presumes your avoiding what you don’t want, and that not getting what we want makes us unfortunate, while encountering what we don’t want makes us miserable.

Desire and aversion

Remember that following desire promises the attainment of that of which you are desirous; and aversion promises the avoiding that to which you are averse. However, he who fails to obtain the object of his desire is disappointed, and he who incurs the object of his aversion wretched. 

Confining aversion to what you have in your own control

If, then, you confine your aversion to those objects only which are contrary to the natural use of your faculties, which you have in your own control, you will never incur anything to which you are averse. 

But if you are averse to sickness, or death, or poverty, you will be wretched. Remove aversion, then, from all things that are not in our control, and transfer it to things contrary to the nature of what is in our control. 

But, for the present, totally suppress desire: for, if you desire any of the things which are not in your own control, you must necessarily be disappointed; and of those which are, and which it would be laudable to desire, nothing is yet in your possession. Use only the appropriate actions of pursuit and avoidance; and even these lightly, and with gentleness and reservation.

Suppress desire for things which are not in your own control

But, for the present, totally suppress desire: for, if you desire any of the things which are not in your own control, you must necessarily be disappointed; and of those which are, and which it would be laudable to desire, nothing is yet in your possession.

Use only the appropriate actions of pursuit and avoidance; and even these lightly, and with gentleness and reservation.

Wealth consists in having few wants

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.

You are a little soul carrying around a corpse.

Being

Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? 

Resolve to live as a grown-up who is making progress

From now on, then, resolve to live as a grown-up who is making progress, and make whatever you think best a law that you never set aside. And whenever you encounter anything that is difficult or pleasurable, or highly or lowly regarded, remember that the contest is now: you are at the Olympic Games, you cannot wait any longer…

Remember that you are an actor in a drama

Remember that you are an actor in a drama, of such a kind as the author pleases to make it. If short, of a short one; if long, of a long one. If it is his pleasure you should act a poor man, a cripple, a governor, or a private person, see that you act it naturally. For this is your business, to act well the character assigned you; to choose it is another's.

Try to be as kind to yourself as possible

Try to be as kind to yourself as possible. Do not measure yourself against others or even against your ideal self. Human betterment is a gradual, two-steps-forward, one-step-back effort.

Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes

A half-hearted spirit has no power. Tentative efforts lead to tentative outcomes. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer.

Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do

From this instant on, vow to stop disappointing yourself. Separate yourself from the mob. Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do – now.

I want to be that which I am

O God, while I stay on this earth I want to be that which I am

How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?

Excellence

Circumstances don't make the man,
they only reveal him to himself.

Be content to be thought foolish and stupid

If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.

You aren’t a child anymore

The sooner you set yourself to your spiritual program, the happier you will be. The longer you wait, the more you’ll be vulnerable to mediocrity and feel filled with shame and regret, because you know you are capable of better. 

Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals

Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer. Put your principles into practice – now. Stop the excuses and the procrastination. This is your life!

Your life is too short and you have important things to do

Most of what passes for legitimate entertainment is inferior or foolish and only caters to or exploits people's weaknesses. Avoid being one of the mob who indulges in such pastimes.

Your life is too short and you have important things to do. Be discriminating about what images and ideas you permit into your mind.

If you yourself don't choose what thoughts and images you expose yourself to, someone else will, and their motives may not be the highest.

It is the easiest thing in the world to slide imperceptibly into vulgarity. But there's no need for that to happen if you determine not to waste your time and attention on mindless pap.

Criticize yourself

Criticize yourself, but do not feel desperate about it.

People are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take of them.

Happiness

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.

There is only one way to happiness

There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will.

Man is worried by his imagined anxieties about real problems

Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems.

Seek to have events happen as they do happen

Don't seek to have events happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do happen, and all will be well with you.

True happiness ongoing dynamic performance of worthy deeds.

Happiness is commonly mistaken for passively experienced pleasure or leisure… True happiness is a verb. It’s the ongoing dynamic performance of worthy deeds.

There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will.

Flowing

Some things in the world are up to us, while others are not.

Some things in the world are up to us, while others are not

Some things in the world are up to us, while others are not. Up to us are our faculties of judgment, motivation, desire, and aversion—in short, everything that is our own doing.

Make the best of what is in our power

Demand not that events should happen as you wish; but wish them to happen as they do happen, and your life will be serene.

When starting an activity, remind yourself what the activity is like

Whenever you are about to start on some activity, remind yourself what the activity is like. If you go out to bathe, picture what happens at a bathhouse— the people there who splash you or jostle you or talk rudely or steal your things. In this way you will be more prepared to start on the activity, by telling yourself at the outset: “I want to bathe, and I also want to keep my will in harmony with nature.” 

Make this your practice in every activity. Then, if anything happens that gets in the way of your bathing, you will have the following response available: “Well, this was not the only thing I wanted; I also wanted to keep my will in harmony with nature. I shall not do that if I get angry about what is happening.”

Things themselves that trouble people, but their opinions about things

It is not things themselves that trouble people, but their opinions about things. Death, for instance, is nothing terrible (otherwise, it would have appeared that way to Socrates as well), but the terrible thing is the opinion that death is terrible. So whenever we are frustrated, or troubled, or pained, let us never hold anyone responsible except ourselves, meaning our own opinions. 

Uneducated people blame others when they are doing badly. Those whose education is underway blame themselves. But a fully educated person blames no one, neither himself nor anyone else.

To make the best of what is in our power, and take the rest as it occurs.

Freedom

Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.

Some things in the world are up to us, while others are not

 Up to us are our faculties of judgment, motivation, desire, and aversion—in short, everything that is our own doing. Not up to us are our body and property, our reputations, and our official positions—in short, everything that is not our own doing.

The things in our control are by nature free

The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others.

Wish nothing, decline nothing, which depends on others

Whoever would be free, let him wish nothing, let him decline nothing, which depends on others else he must necessarily be a slave.

Master your self

No man is free who is not master of himself. People are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take of them.

Only the educated are free.

Life

Things and people are not what we wish them to be nor what they seem to be. They are what they are.

Behave in life as at a dinner party

Remember that you must behave in life as at a dinner party. Is anything brought around to you? Put out your hand and take your share with moderation. Does it pass by you? Don't stop it. Is it not yet come? Don't stretch your desire towards it, but wait till it reaches you. 

Do this with regard to children, to a wife, to public posts, to riches, and you will eventually be a worthy partner of the feasts of the gods. And if you don't even take the things which are set before you, but are able even to reject them, then you will not only be a partner at the feasts of the gods, but also of their empire. For, by doing this, Diogenes, Heraclitus and others like them, deservedly became, and were called, divine.

Caretake this moment

Caretake this moment. Immerse yourself in its particulars. Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed. Quit evasions. Stop giving yourself needless trouble. It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.

It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now.People are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take of them.

Nature

Conduct yourself in all matters, grand and public or small and domestic, in accordance with the laws of nature. 

Don’t try to make your own rules

Don’t try to make your own rules. Conduct yourself in all matters, grand and public or small and domestic, in accordance with the laws of nature. Harmonizing your will with nature should be your utmost ideal. Where do you practice this ideal? In the particulars of your own daily life with its uniquely personal tasks and duties. 

Carry out your tasks in harmony with nature

When you carry out your tasks, such as taking a bath, do so—to the best of your ability—in harmony with nature. When you eat, do so—to the best of your ability—in harmony with nature, and so on. It is not so much what you are doing as how you are doing it. When we properly understand and live by this principle, while difficulties arise—for they are part of the divine order too—inner peace will still be possible.

To live wisely relinquish self-conceit

The first step to living wisely is to relinquish self-conceit. See the delusional folly in being a nervous know-it-all whose giddy mind is always prattling on about its knee-jerk impressions of events and other people, forcing current experiences into previously formed categories: ‘Oh yes, this thing here is just like such and such.’

Behold the world fresh through the eye of a beginner

Behold the world fresh—as it is, on its own terms—through the eye of a beginner. To know that you do not know and to be willing to admit that you do not know without sheepishly apologizing is a real strength and sets the stage for learning and progress in any endeavor.

Learn how to put principles into practice

The life of wisdom begins with learning how to put principles, such as ‘We ought not to lie,’ into practice. The second step is to demonstrate the truth of the principles, such as why it is that we ought not to lie. The third step, which connects the first two, is to indicate why the explanations suffice to justify the principles. While the second and third steps are valuable, it is the first step that matters most. For it is all too easy and common to lie while cleverly demonstrating that lying is wrong.”__

Don’t demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do happen, and you will go on well.

Philosophy

Do not try to seem wise to others.

Philosophy is intended for everyone

Philosophy is intended for everyone, and it is authentically practiced only by those who wed it with action in the world toward a better life for all.

Self-scruntiny applied with kindness is the main antidote. Besides rooting our the soul’s corruptions, the life of wisdom is also meant to stir us from our lassitude and move us in the direction of an energetic, cheerful life.

Philosophy’s purpose is to illuminate our soul

Philosophy’s purpose is to illuminate the ways our soul has been infected by unsound beliefs, untrained tumultuous desires, and dubious life choices and preferences that are unworthy of us. 

Self-scruntiny applied with kindness is the main antidote. Besides rooting our the soul’s corruptions, the life of wisdom is also meant to stir us from our lassitude and move us in the direction of an energetic, cheerful life.

Self-scruntiny applied with kindness is the main antidote

Self-scruntiny applied with kindness is the main antidote. Besides rooting our the soul’s corruptions, the life of wisdom is also meant to stir us from our lassitude and move us in the direction of an energetic, cheerful life.

Those who pursue the higher life of wisdom must be prepared to be laughed at and condemned

Those who pursue the higher life of wisdom, who seek to live by spiritual principles, must be prepared to be laughed at and condemned… Never live your life in reaction to these diminished souls.

Ready to die at any moment

A wise man becomes free when he is ready to die at any moment.

Don't explain your philosophy. Embody it.

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