35 Epictetus

“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.

Within our control are our own opinions, aspirations, desires, and the things that repel us. These areas are quite rightly our concern, because they are directly subject to our influence. 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.”

You can read more of Epictetus’s thoughts in “The Enchiridion (handbook) of Epictetus, which is easily download on the internet.

Born a slave, Epictetus became a well regarded, important and very influential Stoic philosopher. It is worth nothing, since we celebrate Mother’s Day on the 8th of this month, that Epictetus had a good sense of humor, as he once noted “The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.”

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