First, say to yourself what you would be; then do what you have to do.
Have you ever wondered, “How do I live a happy, meaningful and flourishing life?
How can I both be a noble and effective person?
Answering these bedrock questions was the single minded passion of Epictetus, the venerable philosopher who was born a slave about A.D 55 in the eastern outreaches of the Roman Empire.
One of the wittiest and wisest teachers who ever lived, Epictetus observed everyday life, no matter what our personal circumstance are, is fraught with difficulty. Especially, in times like these, when the world is plagued by a deadly pandemic which is ravaging through our cities and taking its toll on the basic fibre of humanity: where death and despondency has become a part of our very existence. Philosophy of Epictetus is like a beacon of hope and a life of virtue is within the reach of everyone.
Epictetus believed that the primary job of philosophy is to help ordinary people effectively meet the everyday challenges of daily life, and to deal with life’s inevitable major losses, disappointments, and griefs.
The Art of Living is more than mere lessons in coping with ups and downs of life. It is a coherent, elegant system that, if sincerely practiced, instills enduring serenity and moves us gently but steady towards our highest selves.
Part of Epictetus’s enduring appeal and widespread influence is that he wasn’t fussy about distinguishing between professional philosophers and ordinary people. He expressed his message clearly and zealously to all people interested in living a morally awake life.
Epictetus nevertheless staunchly believed in the necessity of training for the gradual refinement of personal character and behavior. Moral progress is not the natural province of the highborn, nor is it achieved by accident or luck, but by working on yourself—daily.
Epictetus was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was probably born a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia (present day Pamukkale, Turkey), and lived in Rome until his exile to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece, where he lived most of his life and died.
He taught in Rome until A.D 94, when emperor Domitian banished philosophers from the city. In exile, he established his school of philosophy where his distinguished students included Marcus Aurelius, author of the Meditations.The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living
His demeanor was that of a lighthearted, humble teacher urging his students to take the business of living wisely very seriously. Epictetus walked his talk: He lived modestly in a small hut and eschewed any interest in fame, fortune, and power. He died about A.D. 135, in Nicopolis.
Epictetus was a lecturer who left no philosophical writings. Fortunately, the main points of his philosophy were preserved for future generations by his devoted pupil, the historian Flavius Arrian. Arrian painstakingly transcribed a large number of his teacher’s lectures in Greek for a friend.
These lectures, known as the Discourses (or Diatribes), were originally collected in eight books, but only four survive. Epictetus’s lectures are among the major sources for our present- day understanding of Roman Stoic philosophy.
The ninety~three instructions make up the part The Art Of Living, however the top 15 quotes I have chosen from the book by Sharon Lebell are the one I feel are the basis for understanding the stoic school of thoughts.Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness
Know What You Can Control and What You Can’t
Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not.
Within our control are our own opinions, aspirations, desires, and the things that repel us. We always have a choice about the contents and character of our inner lives.
Outside our control, however, are such things as what kind of body we have, whether we’re born into wealth or strike it rich, how we are regarded by others, and our status in society. We must remember that those things are externals and are therefore not our concern. Trying to control or to change what we can’t only results in torment.
Stick with Your Own Business
In knowing and attending to what actually concerns you, you cannot be made to do anything against your will; others can’t hurt you, you don’t incur enemies or suffer harm.
Desire Demands Its Own Attainment
Our desires and aversions demand to be pleased.When we don’t get what we want, we are disappointed, and when we get what we don’t want, we are distressed.However, if you try to avoid inevitabilities such as sickness, death, or misfortune, over which you have no real control, you will make yourself and others around you suffer.
Desire and aversion, though powerful, are but habits. And we can train ourselves to have better habits. Restrain the habit of being repelled by all those things that aren’t within your control, and focus instead on combating things within your power that are not good for you.
See Things for What They Are
Open your eyes: See things for what they really are, there by sparing yourself the pain of false attachments and avoidable devastation. Events happen as they do. People behave as they are. Embrace what you actually get.
Events Don’t Hurt Us, But Our Views of Them Can
Things themselves don’t hurt or hinder us. Nor do other people. How we view these things is another matter. It is our attitudes and reactions that give us trouble.
No Shame, No Blame
When we suffer setbacks, disturbances, or grief, let us never place the blame on others, but on our own attitudes.
Accept Events As they Occur
Don’t demand or expect that events happen as you would wish them to. Accept events as they actually happen. That way peace is possible.
Disregard What Doesn’t Concern You
It is actually a good thing to be thought foolish and simple with regard to matters that don’t concern us. Don’t be concerned with other people’s impressions of you. They are dazzled and deluded by appearances. Stick with your purpose. This alone will strengthen your will and give your life coherence.
Avoid Adopting Other People’s Negative Views
Other people’s views and troubles can be contagious. Don’t sabotage yourself by unwittingly adopting negative, unproductive attitudes through your associations with others.
Everything Happens for a Good Reason
Assume, that everything that happens to you does so for some good. That if you decided to be lucky, you are lucky. All events contain an advantage for you—if you look for it!
Happiness Can Only Be Found Within
Your happiness depends on three things, all of which are within your power: your will, your ideas concerning the events in which you are involved, and the use you make of your ideas.
No One Can Hurt You
People don’t have the power to hurt you. Even if someone shouts abuse at you or strikes you, if you are insulted, it is always your choice to view what is happening as insulting or not. When anyone seems to be provoking you, remember that it is only your judgment of the incident that provokes you. Don’t let your emotions get ignited by mere appearances.
The Pursuit of Wisdom Attracts Critics
In an attempt to win social acceptance and life’s comforts bitterly resent those of philosophical bent who refuse to compromise their spiritual ideals and who seek to better themselves. Never live your life in reaction to these diminished souls. Be compassionate toward them, and at the same time hold to what you know is good.
Never Suppress a Generous Impulse
Follow through on all your generous impulses. Do not question them, especially if a friend needs you; act on his or her behalf. Do not hesitate!
Clearly Define the Person You Want to Be
Who exactly do you want to be? What kind of person do you want to be? What are your personal ideals? Whom do you admire? What are their special traits that you would make your own?
One of the wittiest teachers who ever lived, Epictetus’s teachings rank with those contained in the greatest wisdom literature of human civilization. The Discourses could be thought of as the West’s answer to Buddhism’s Dhammapada or Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching.
For Epictetus, a happy life and a virtuous life are synonymous. Happiness and personal fulfillment are the natural consequences of doing the right thing. Part of his genius is his emphasis on moral progress over the seeking of moral perfection. He spent his life outlining the path to happiness, fulfilment, and tranquility, no matter what one’s circumstances happen to be.
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference
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