Epictetus, the eminent Stoic philosopher, was born a slave around 55 AD in the eastern outreaches of the Roman Empire. Despite his early hardships, his keen insights and clear articulation of Stoic principles have made his teachings enduringly relevant.
In this post, we delve into some of Epictetus' profound Stoic quotes and reflect upon their relevance and application in our modern lives.
Top 10 Stoic Quotes by Epictetus:
1. On Circumstances:
We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.
This philosophical gem teaches us the essence of response-ability, to cultivate an inner fortress and choose empowering reactions over imposed situations.
2. On Gratitude:
He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.
Epictetus emphasizes the enrichment found in appreciation and contentment with our possessions, steering our focus towards abundance and away from deficiency.
3. On Wealth and Desire:
Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.
The essence of wealth is unfolded as a state of contentment and minimalism, diverging from the illusionary riches in material accumulation.
4. On Knowledge:
Only the educated are free.
Epictetus reveals the liberating power of education and wisdom, depicting knowledge as the gateway to emancipation and authentic existence.
5. On Reaction:
It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.
Here, the wisdom lies in recognizing the power of proactive response over reactive existence, valuing the sovereignty of our interpretative power.
6. On Intention and Action:
First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.
Envisioning our desired state of being precedes transformation, emphasizing alignment of actions with intentions.
7. On Perception:
Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.
It’s the lenses through which we perceive that shape our emotions and experiences, echoing the significance of perspective modulation for emotional well-being.
8. On Personal Growth:
If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.
The pursuit of self-enhancement requires embracing vulnerability and indifference to societal misconceptions and judgments.
9. On Freedom:
Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.
True liberation is conceived through the mastery of focus, anchoring our energies on the controllable and dismissing the uncontrollable.
10. On Worry:
Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems.
Epictetus reveals the constructed nature of most anxieties, grounded more in imagination than in actual predicaments.
Read the best Stoic quotes from Enchiridion by Epictetus here.
If you want to dive deeper into his wisdom, check out Meditations – an expansive collection of his teachings.
The timeless Stoic wisdom of Epictetus provides profound insights and practical guidance to navigate through life’s varied landscapes with resilience, virtue, and tranquility, resonating with souls seeking deeper meanings and enriched existences.