The Manual: A Philosopher’s Guide to Life Book by Epictetus

book: The Manual: A Philosopher’s Guide to Life Book by Epictetus
author: Epictetus, translated by Sam Torode of Ancient Renewal

general overview

this book is a must read if you’re new to Stoicism. there are many translations of of Epictetus’s work; this one in particular is by Sam Torode. it’s a more contemporary translation and i found that it was easy to read (though, i still think it’s worth reading more than once).

as most of my summaries, this one is a list of lessons and notes that stood out to me. some may be paraphrased or quoted.

  • by changing your thoughts about a situation, you could immediately let go of pain.
  • peace of mind = disregarding the opinions and actions of other people (release your attachment to all things outside of your control). you cannot stay in harmony if you let yourself become upset by things beyond your control.
  • focus your attention only on what is your own concern (leave to others what concerns them).
  • those who have mastered philosophy blame no one. when something goes wrong (that’s in your control), the only person to blame is yourself.
  • remain steadfast in pursuing your mission (and shed distractions).
  • do not wish that all things will go well with you, but that you will go well with all things.
  • sickness may weaken your body, but not your  determination – unless you let it. the only thing that can impede your will is your will itself.
  • if you meet temptation, use self-control; if you meet pain, use fortitude; if you meet revulsion, use patience. in this practice you will overcome life’s challenges, rather than be overcome by them.
  • do not strive to be celebrated for anything. if you are praised by others, be skeptical of yourself. it is no easy feat to hold onto your inner harmony while collecting accolades.
  • do not lunge for anything – be patient. if it passes you by, don’t complain.
  • you cannot choose the body, family, era and nationality you were born into. act well in your given role.
  • whatever life brings, you can use it to your advantage.
  • remind yourself that you are a mortal being, and someday you will die.
  • mind your own business, keep busy with the work you are best suited for.
  • find satisfaction in following your philosophy. if you want to be respected, start respecting yourself.
  • in every situation, consider what precedes it and what may follow – then act.
  • no one can steal your peace of mind unless you let them.
  • trust fate, and trust yourself.
  • be the same person in public as in private.
  • refuse to participate in gossip – tearing down, inflating and judging other people. do not dip into the gutter in search of cheap laughs.
  • don’t act on impulse.
  • life is mostly gray areas – it is rarely a question of good versus bad, but of weighing greater and lesser goods on a scale of values.
  • be yourself.
  • don’t let appetite exceed what is necessary.
  • do not spew your undigested thoughts; show their results in action. sheep do not spit out grass to show the farmer how much they’ve eaten – they ruminate on it, digest it, then display the results in wool and milk.
  • do not make a spectacle of self-deprivation. when you fast, tell no one.
  • follow your principles as though they were laws. do not laugh if others criticize or laugh at you (remember, their opinions are none of your concern).
  • do not make excuses.