Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Living A Stress Free Life - According to Epictetus

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A philosopher once said, “some things are up to us and some things are not up to us” and these are wise words if I’ve never heard some before. The Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus said these words in his piece The Handbook, which focused on key themes shared by stoics of his era. We often spend time stressing and focusing on things that we can and never will be able to control thus unnecessarily pushing ourselves further back from true happiness, the ultimate life goal according to Epictetus and Aristotle. As I mentioned in previous posts I share the same ultimate life goal - genuine happiness - and plan to live in such a way that is conducive to attaining such a goal.

Many philosophers touch on subjects that aren’t really relatable or applicable to everyday life. In his teachings, Epictetus pretty much lays out a foolproof guide to living a less stressful life that some may easily over look. It can be used as somewhat of life guidebook. He speaks about three major concepts: attitude being key to happiness, ataraxia, and caring only about that, which is in your power. Caring about what can control. Here are some things that are both in and out of our control as humans. Those things we cannot control we should not stress about because in the end it is pointless to give energy somewhere you will never be able to humanly change. 

Opinion (our ideas about things)
Body (the body we are born with)
Pursuit (what we choose to go after)
Property (material goods)
Desire (our wants)
Reputation (what others think about us)
Aversion (opposite of desire—what we do NOT want or what we actively push away)
Command (what others force us to do)

Ataraxia à This is the practice of detaching yourself from what you can’t control. Epictetus tells us to detach our desires and our aversions—the things we want and the things we do not want to happen—from anything out of our control in Section 2 of The Handbook. Curbing your wants and desires will help you do this. Attitude is the key to happiness. The idea that it’s not what you are faced with, it’s how you deal with what you are faced with. Always remember keeping a positive attitude towards everything in life and not dwelling on the unchangeable will indeed alleviate unnecessary stress and leave space for more positivity. 

Thanks Epictetus for the eye opening ideas!

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