Lessons from the Stoics

“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control”. Epictetus




Inspiration can come to us from various sources. With this in mind I immersed myself in the Sydney University library to seek to understand the lessons of the Stoic philospohers. Below are just a few lessons we can consider.

“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control”. Epictetus

Epictetus tells us, as do other Stoic philosophers, that we should only consider that which we can control. It is the key to happiness in fact. In order to be happy we should be constantly analysing what is “up to us” and what is “not up to us”. This is can be a difficult task, perhaps the answer will be different for each one of us? However, we should all strive to have this awareness. Having this awareness, we should than only concentrate on the things which are “up to us”.

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

Marcus Aurelius in his Meditations, tells us to “confine thyself to the present”, to understand what happens in a given moment, to “direct attention to what is said”, so listen. Do not worry so much about the future, but concentrate on the now, really learn all you can from this particular moment, and from history, as events of the future will in some way replicate those of the past.

“If you are careless and lazy now and keep putting things off and always deferring the day after which you will attend to yourself, you will not notice that you are making no progress, but you will live and die as someone quite ordinary.” Epictetus

The Stoics say to ignore all that you can not control, but at the same time these wise men are adamant that you should look within yourself, find all the good, and devote all your energy and be disciplined in being the best you can be. There is no room for emotions with the Stoics, it is all about reason.

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

“Adorn thyself with simplicity and modesty, and with indifference towards the things which lie between virtue and vice…” Marcus Aurelius

Educate yourself, reflect on your education and surround yourself with those who inspire you. Do not let others discourage you, nor let their worries become your own.

“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence call forth your best.” Epictetus