Epictetus was a Greek philosopher in the 1st and 2nd C.E. and was well known for his thoughts and studies regarding ethical proceedings and effective teaching methods on the same. Epictetus was bold and focused on philosophical topics that emphasized more on the depths of human thoughts than on integrity, self-management, and personal freedom as ideologies for mankind. His studies and satirical literature made him an iconic philosopher in the study of personal freedom and mental liberation. He reinvented stoic ethics in its essence and its stern applications as well. To Epictetus, philosophy was more than just a professional curiosity or a theoretical obligation, but an absolute lifestyle; he focussed on applying his beliefs to his daily practices. His greatest works were noted and published by his disciple and are now known to the world as The Discourses of Epictetus and Enchiridion or the handbook of Epictetus. There are no known writings by Epictetus, he was not a known writer, but his pupil Arrian writes down all his teachings as taught and dictated by him to propagate his philosophies. His quotes are now iconic and are a subject of many ethical study professors till this day. Some of his quotes have been explained below, but philosophy is always open to interpretation as the times progress.
Below are some of the famous Epictetus Quotes.
No great thing is created suddenly.
This is one of the most common yet underappreciated quotes of Epictetus. This implies the importance of hard work and perseverance in developing and creating something great. This quote is a motivator to everyone who needs to persist through hardships and hurdles and reach their goal in spite of all the hurdles.
If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you but answer, "He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone.
Accepting criticism is a difficult task, especially when it is being pointed out by someone unrelated. However, humility makes the process easier; the person criticizing you cannot hold power over you that would get you down and to be able to move on from such comments gracefully is a delicate art.
Don't explain your philosophy embody it.
Philosophy is an art and a science that applies to a person's existential styles and if one hopes to propagate such a deep-rooted study, just theorizing and writing about it is not enough. Philosophy is a state of mind, and one needs to embody it in their own mind and behaviours to make people believe in it.
Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.
As famously said, human wants are unlimited. The root of all negative emotions is attachments and greed. Being materialistic is shallow and unsatisfying at the end; possessions become meaningless over time. However, having the understanding to be content in oneself with limited wants could lead to a lifetime of happiness.
There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will.
Overthinking and overreacting are huge stressors in life. One might not be able to annihilate being worried about the important things but by minimizing the number of things that can affect us negatively. Once this is achieved, making decisions become easier in times of duress.
Continue reading some more Epictetus Quotes....
Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems.
As mentioned above, overthinking is an unnecessary evil; humans tend to worry about future scenarios that may never happen. Man needs to live in the present and act on actual; issues instead of making up scenarios and worrying about possibilities.
First say to yourself what you would be, and then do what you have to do.
One needs to contemplate what kind of a person would one be after carrying forward rash and impulsive actions. The consequences of actions on one's conscience and character is something that might never change, and hence all actions need to be preceded by a rational thought process.
The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.
A man is recognized by the company he keeps. One tends to mould themselves and adapt according to the company they keep. Surrounding yourself with people whose traits you admire may lead to character development and would lead to personal growth.
It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.
Human life is not an easy one. At every stage of our lives, we face obstacles. But how we handle the situation and tackle the obstacles makes all the difference in the world. How we react to our problems, reveal our true character. If we react badly to a difficult situation, it may further mar the situation. So it truly is very important how we react to a situation.
Few more Epictetus Quotes...
Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.
Anger has always been a powerful human emotion. But it matters how we direct our anger. If another person makes us angry, he can affect our mental peace. And therefore, he has gained a kind of power over us. He can affect our mental peace anytime. But on the other hand, if he does not anger us, he can do us no harm.
He who laughs at himself never runs out of things to laugh at.
The world can be a very difficult place to live in sometimes. People may make fun of us and laugh at us at various phases of life, but if we master the art of making fun of those things, we become a master of rare value. People lose a lot of power from over us, and we become more powerful carefree people.
Other people's views and troubles can be contagious. Don't sabotage yourself by unwittingly adopting negative, unproductive attitudes through your associations with others.
We, humans, are often seekers of validation. And are affected by peoples views of us. We seek somehow approval of others. And their positive and negative comments affect us deeply. But we shouldn't let others views and opinions affect us to a very large extent because people may not always have good intentions for us. And a single bad comment will sabotage our progress then.
Only the educated are free.
Education is the key to living a better and more comfortable life. Even a rich but uneducated man often faces troubles in life. Moreover, education gives us knowledge about our rights, about how to earn, how to plan our lives. People without education can be compared with birds without wings.
Some more Epictetus Quotes...
Circumstances don't make the man; they only reveal him to himself.
Human life is full of obstacles. We'll find ourselves in all kinds of situations time after time. In different circumstances, we behave a certain way. There are many things about ourselves we're unaware of. But the way we react in certain situations reveals the hidden truth about us; we are upfront with our inner selves then.
It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.
Man is a creature who learns from experiences. But often does he have preconceived notions. Often does he believe in an unproven thing very deeply. And often, a man who is entitled to his thinking, who is not an owner of an open mind, tends to accept nothing but his sole beliefs to be the ultimate truth.
You are a little soul carrying around a corpse.
Humans are born in a physical body, and as time passes, they tend to believe that this very body is all they have. But, honestly, the body is only a vessel and what this vessel carries is the soul, and the soul is very precious. Our body is as good as a corpse; our body is the shell of an oyster, and pearl is a soul.
First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.
Words are powerful. Far more powerful than we sometimes perceive them to be. A word once spoken can never be taken back; its impact is irreversible. So we must choose our words wisely, understand what they mean and only then begin speaking.
The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skilful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.
In the world we live there is a plethora of challenging tasks one can perform. But performing deeds that seem quite unlikely to commit to are the ones worth taking on. A man who is ready to take on the most difficult of challenges earns glory like no one else.
No man is free who is not master of himself.
Freedom comes from being able to do whatever one wants to. If that kind of freedom does not exist, a man cannot truly be free. Even if a man is not the master of his own mind, his mind controls him, and that makes him a slave. And a slave is never free.
Man is troubled not by the events, but by the meaning he gives them.
Different things keep happening worldwide, but not all of them are of much importance to us. If we put meaning in events only then, they become important to us. And only the events that can trouble us are those which are important to us. It's all a question of how we perceive things.