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Epictetus (55-135 CE) Enchiridion
A manual for living a contented life
Rendered by Charles Scamahorn (1935- ) 2014

Paragraph 23

If ever you happen to be distracted and your attention goes to your external appearances and behavior, in an effort to please some other person, quickly recognize that you have lost that moment for maintaining tranquility. When you realize this distraction, voluntarily choose to be contented in everything as a Stoic, and if you want to be considered one by others, you should take on that external role and also take it into your own self perceptions. Do so and you will soon recover your attention and your tranquility.


As usual I take some small liberties in rendering Epictetus’ statements, as recorded by Arrian, to reveal the essence of his strategy for living a tranquil inner life, contented with the outer world. Here he recognizes that people will occasionally be distracted from their primary goal of being tranquil and content, and he offers the way to recovering self composure. It may not be easy, but if one has practiced having and holding the attitudes and expressions of a Stoic, those physical postures and behaviors will feed back on one’s emotional self and help reassert the desired attitude. The external affects the internal as the internal affects the external.