Epictetus (55-135 CE) Enchiridion
A manual for living a contented life
Rendered by Charles Scamahorn (1935- ) 2014
Some things are within our power to influence such as our thoughts, opinions, emotions, physical actions and creation of personal habits. Some things are outside of our power to control such as the past, remote things, our body up to this moment, our legal rights such as ownership of property, our reputation and holding public office. Those things are not of our personal control, and our relationship with them must be distant. The things within our power are naturally free for our personal use, and they can not be restrained by others.
Be cautious of when you believe things to be under your control but they are not. Then you may be impeded from using them, and that will disturb your equanimity, and you will suffer and be tempted to blame others for your own faults. Be careful not to over-extend what you claim to be yours into another’s realm of ownership. When you clearly stay within your own realm no one will challenge your actions, you will have no enemies, and you will suffer no harm.
When your goal is freedom, happiness and contentment it requires giving up the chase after power, public office, and monetary wealth, but that requires some mental decisions, and making a thoughtful effort to forgo what most people seek. If you choose to acquire public valuables, with the intent of seeking contentment after you have them, you will fail, because they are incompatible. Money and public power come with the loss of personal freedom and happiness.
Whenever there is an emotional outburst by yourself or another person, pause and examine the cause, and clarify if it is an overlap of ownership of what is within your personal control or outside of it. If it is not within your power of control immediately distance yourself from it and say, “It doesn’t concern me.”