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Epictetus: Sayings and Quotes

We all carry the seeds of greatness within us, but we need an image as a point of focus in order that they may sprout.

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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.

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To know that you do not know and to be willing to admit that you do not know without sheepishly apologizing is real strength and sets the stage for learning and progress in any endeavor.

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Freedom and happiness come from understanding – and working with – our limits. Begin at once a program of self-mastery. Stick with your purpose. Do not seek external approval. Do not worry about anything outside of your control. The only things you command are your thoughts and actions. We choose our response. Stop aspiring to be anyone other than your own best self: for that does fall within your control.

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When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it. It is not the things that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance. Things and people are not what we wish them to be nor are they what they seem to be. They are what they are.

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It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.

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Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.

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Be careful whom you associate with. It is human to imitate the habits of those with whom we interact. We inadvertently adopt their interests, their opinions, their values, and their habit of interpreting events.

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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.

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It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.

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Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals. Once you have determined the spiritual principles you wish to exemplify, abide by these rules as if they were laws, as if it were indeed sinful to compromise them. Don't mind if others don't share your convictions. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer.

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Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily.

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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.

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

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When we blather about trivial things, we ourselves become trivial, for our attention gets taken up with trivialities. You become what you give your attention to.

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First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.

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Other people's views and troubles can be contagious. Don't sabotage yourself by unwittingly adopting negative, unproductive attitudes through your associations with others.

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To live a life of virtue, you have to become consistent, even when it isn't convenient, comfortable, or easy.

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Happiness and personal fulfillment are the natural consequences of doing the right thing.

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Suffering arises from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power.

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Learn to distinguish what you can and can't control. Within our control are our own opinions, aspirations, desires and the things that repel us. They are directly subject to our influence.

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Nothing truly stops you. Nothing truly holds you back. For your own will is always within your control. Sickness may challenge your body. But are you merely your body? Lameness may impede your legs. But you are not merely your legs. Your will is bigger than your legs. Your will needn't be affected by an incident unless you let it.

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What matters most is what sort of person you are becoming. Wise individuals care only about whom they are today and who they can be tomorrow.

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And be silent for the most part, or else make only the most necessary remarks, and express these in few words. But rarely, and when occasion requires you to talk, talk, indeed, but about no ordinary topics. Do not talk about gladiators, or horseraces, or athletes, or things to eat or drink – topics that arise on all occasions; but above all, do not talk about people, either blaming, or praising, or comparing them.

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No matter what happens, it is within my power to turn it to my advantage.

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Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control. Stop aspiring to be anyone other than your own best self: for that does fall within your control.

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Wisdom means understanding without any doubt that circumstances do not rise to meet our expectations. Events happen as they may. People behave as they will.

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Every difficulty in life presents us with an opportunity to turn inward and to invoke our own submerged inner resources. The trials we endure can and should introduce us to our strengths.

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Keep your attention focused entirely on what is truly your own concern, and be clear that what belongs to others is their business and none of yours.

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It is our attitude toward events, not events themselves, which we can control. Nothing is by its own nature calamitous – even death is terrible only if we fear it.

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What is a good person? One who achieves tranquillity by having formed the habit of asking on every occasion, "what is the right thing to do now?"

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I laugh at those who think they can damage me. They do not know who I am, they do not know what I think, they cannot even touch the things which are really mine and with which I live.

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The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things.

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Watch yourself as you go about your daily business and later reflect on what you saw, trying to identify the sources of distress in your life and thinking about how to avoid that distress.

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

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A ship should not be held by a single anchor; neither should life depend upon a single hope.

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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 It's time to stop being vague. If you wish to be an extraordinary person, if you wish to become wise, then you should explicitly identify the kind of person you aspire to become. If you have a daybook, write down who you're trying to be, so that you can refer to this self-determination. Precisely describe the demeanor you want to adopt so that you may preserve it when you are by yourself or with other people.

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In trying to please other people, we find ourselves misdirected toward what lies outside our sphere of influence. In doing so, we lose our hold on our lifes purpose.

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As you think, so you become... Our busy minds are forever jumping to conclusions, manufacturing and interpreting signs that aren't there.

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You have been given your own work to do. Get to it right now, do your best at it, and don't be concerned with who is watching you. Create your own merit.

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It's so simple really: If you say you're going to do something, do it. If you start something, finish it.

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When you are offended at any man's fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger.

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We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.

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When your thoughts, words, and deeds form a seamless fabric, you streamline your efforts and thus eliminate worry and dread.

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When you have decided that a thing ought to be done and are doing it, never avoid bein seen doing it, though many shall form an unfavorable opinion about it. For if it is not right to do it, avoid doing the thing; but if it is right, why are you afraid of those who shall find fault wrongly?

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Whoever wants to be free, therefore, let him not want or avoid anything that is up to others. Otherwise he will necessarily be a slave.

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If evil be spoken of you and it be true, correct yourself, if it be a lie, laugh at it.

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Freedom and slavery, the one is the name of virtue, and the other of vice, and both are acts of the will.

Read more about interesting historical figures in the collection "Tradition of Warriors and Sages" by A. R. Basov

 

 

 




I will not get lost...
The North Star is shining in the darkness...
The road to Valhalla, straight like a sword, is always in front of me!

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