To trouble oneself with what belongs to others – their materials, status, body, or their impression of you – is to trouble yourself unnecessarily. These things are out of your control; instead concern yourself with what you can change.
“Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.”
Accept things as they are and do not try to influence what you cannot.
“Don’t demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do happen, and you will go on well.”
When things do not go as you desire, don’t mourn it. Accept it. Things are as they are, and all you can control is how you react.
“Distinguish within your own mind, and be prepared to say, “It’s not the accident that distresses this person., because it doesn’t distress another person; it is the judgment which he makes about it.”
There is no such thing as evil; things merely are as nature makes them.
“As a mark is not set up for the sake of missing the aim, so neither does the nature of evil exist in the world.”
Do not be overly fond of our possessions; remind yourself that they are temporary and unimportant.
“With regard to whatever objects give you delight, are useful, or are deeply loved, remember to tell yourself of what general nature they are, beginning from the most insignificant things. If, for example, you are fond of a specific ceramic cup, remind yourself that it is only ceramic cups in general of which you are fond. Then, if it breaks, you will not be disturbed.”
Everything is temporary – and so, nothing is yours forever. Accept when it is gone, as it was never yours to begin with.
“If you wish your children, and your wife, and your friends to live for ever, you are stupid; for you wish to be in control of things which you cannot, you wish for things that belong to others to be your own… Never say of anything, “I have lost it”; but, “I have returned it.” Is your child dead? It is returned. Is your wife dead? She is returned. Is your estate taken away? Well, and is not that likewise returned? “But he who took it away is a bad man.” What difference is it to you who the giver assigns to take it back? While he gives it to you to possess, take care of it; but don’t view it as your own, just as travelers view a hotel.”
Do not take pride in what you own; take pride in what you do and what is in your control.
“Don’t be prideful with any excellence that is not your own. If a horse should be prideful and say, “ I am handsome,” it would be supportable. But when you are prideful, and say, “ I have a handsome horse,” know that you are proud of what is, in fact, only the good of the horse. What, then, is your own? Only your reaction to the appearances of things. Thus, when you behave conformably to nature in reaction to how things appear, you will be proud with reason; for you will take pride in some good of your own.”
Be deliberate in what you choose to undertake. Victory and glory are always desirable, but one must consider the steps necessary to attain them, whether your body and mind are fit for the task, and decide whether you are willing to endure it. And once you decide, commit yourself fully and do not be distracted with multiple aims.
“Otherwise, take notice, you will behave like children who sometimes play like wrestlers, sometimes gladiators, sometimes blow a trumpet, and sometimes act a tragedy when they have seen and admired these shows. Thus you too will be at one time a wrestler, at another a gladiator, now a philosopher, then an orator; but with your whole soul, nothing at all. Like an ape, you mimic all you see, and one thing after another is sure to please you, but is out of favor as soon as it becomes familiar. For you have never entered upon anything considerately, nor after having viewed the whole matter on all sides, or made any scrutiny into it, but rashly, and with a cold inclination.”
When you speak, be careful with your choice of words and topics. Do not gossip or swear. Be precise with your choice of words and do not speak more than is necessary.
“Be for the most part silent, or speak merely what is necessary, and in few words. We may, however, enter, though sparingly, into discourse sometimes when occasion calls for it, but not on any of the common subjects, of gladiators, or horse races, or athletic champions, or feasts, the vulgar topics of conversation; but principally not of men, so as either to blame, or praise, or make comparisons. If you are able, then, by your own conversation bring over that of your company to proper subjects; but, if you happen to be taken among strangers, be silent.”
When you share stories, do not overshare or share in a manner that would cause the listener to think less of you.
“In parties of conversation, avoid a frequent and excessive mention of your own actions and dangers. For, however agreeable it may be to yourself to mention the risks you have run, it is not equally agreeable to others to hear your adventures. Avoid, likewise, an endeavor to excite laughter. For this is a slippery point, which may throw you into vulgar manners, and, besides, may be apt to lessen you in the esteem of your acquaintance.”
Do not concern yourself with what others think of you. Only concern yourself with your own thoughts and actions.
“The condition and characteristic of a vulgar person, is, that he never expects either benefit or hurt from himself, but from externals. The condition and characteristic of a philosopher is, he expects all hurt and benefit from himself.”
“Whatever moral rules you have deliberately proposed to yourself, abide by them as they were laws, and as if you would be guilty of impiety by violating any of them. Don’t regard what anyone says of you, for this, after all, is no concern of yours. How long, then, will you put off thinking yourself worthy of the highest improvements and follow the distinctions of reason?”
Do not be defensive, vengeful, or bitter if someone speaks poorly of you.
“If anyone tells you that such a person speaks ill of you, don’t make excuses about what is said of you, but answer: “ He does not know my other faults, else he would not have mentioned only these.”
If you are tempted by a unwholesome or unvirtuous pleasure, consider both the act and the regret you will feel after it ends if you partake.
“If you are struck by the appearance of any promised pleasure, guard yourself against being hurried away by it; but let the affair wait your leisure, and procure yourself some delay. Then bring to your mind both points of time: that in which you will enjoy the pleasure, and that in which you will repent and reproach yourself after you have enjoyed it; and set before you, in opposition to these, how you will be glad and applaud yourself if you abstain.”
Wealth, eloquence, and appearance are not related to your virtue or status.
“These reasonings are unconnected: “I am richer than you, therefore I am better”; “I am more eloquent than you, therefore I am better.” The connection is rather this: “I am richer than you, therefore my property is greater than yours”; “I am more eloquent than you, therefore my style is better than yours.” But you, after all, are neither property nor style.”
Do not teach in a condescending or unprompted or undesired way.
“Sheep don’t throw up the grass to show the shepherds how much they have eaten; but, inwardly digesting their food, they outwardly produce wool and milk. Thus, therefore, do you likewise not show theorems to the unlearned, but the actions produced by them after they have been digested.”
And just a great quote:
“This instant, then, think of yourself worthy of living as a man grown up, and a proficient. Let whatever appears to be the best be to you an inviolable law. And if any instance of pain or pleasure, or glory or disgrace, is set before you, remember that now is the combat, now the Olympiad comes on, nor can it be put off.”