Who Is Epictetus? From Slave To World’s Most Sought After Philosopher


3 Exercises & Lessons From Epictetus 1. Remember What’s In Your Control The Enchiridion begins with one of the most important maxims in Stoic philosophy. The importance of distinguishing things that are under our control and things that are not. (Think of it as the Stoic Serenity Prayer.) It is a reminder not to get angry and upset by things which we cannot influence such as other people and external events and to only focus on ourselves, our own behavior. This makes things a bit easier, doesn’t it? A humbling reminder of how much happens that we can’t influence and learning to let go and accept things as they are. Yet at the same time, a powerful reminder that our actions and choices are fully in our own control. As Epictetus said, “Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.” 2. Set the Standard The best leaders rarely talk how things ought to be done, their actions speak for themselves. Think of someone you admired and how many of the lessons came indirectly from the choices that they’ve made and the example they have set. Similarly, we need to be focused on how we are actually living and what choices we are making. That’s where our time and energy will be best spent. As Epictetus put it, “Never call yourself a philosopher, nor talk a great deal among the unlearned about theorems, but act conformably to them. Thus, at an entertainment, don’t talk how persons ought to eat, but eat as you ought.” 3. Prescribe Yourself a Character Epictetus understood how much we act out of habit and how we tend to think that our ways of doing things are set in stone. He admonished his students to set some principles and standards they need to follow and not deviate as much as possible. This is certainly not easy by any stretch but with small steps, each day reminding us what direction we’d like to go to, we can get closer to the character we wish to have. As he put it, “Immediately prescribe some character and form of conduce to yourself, which you may keep both alone and in company.” Epictetus Quotes “No thing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.” “Let death and exile, and all other things which appear terrible, be daily before your eyes, but death chiefly; and you will never entertain any abject thought, nor too eagerly covet anything.” “Demand not that events should happen as you wish; but wish them to happen as they do happen, and your life will be serene.” “Sickness is an impediment to the body, but not to the will, unless itself pleases. Lameness is an impediment to the leg, but not to the will; and say this to yourself with regard to everything that happens. For you will find it to be an impediment to something else, but not truly to yourself.” “I cannot escape death; but cannot I escape the dread of it? Must I die trembling and lamenting?” “To make the best of what is in our power, and take the rest as it occurs.”

Who Is Epictetus? From Slave To World’s Most Sought After Philosopher