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

Paragraph 47

When you have learned how to care for your body with very little effort, don’t mention it to anyone. For example avoid mentioning that you drink water instead of the typical diluted wine. If you wish to train your body for an arduous encounter, do the exercises for yourself but avoid involving others, and don’t even let them know you are doing anything special. Occasionally when doing this type of personal training give yourself a challenge; for example when thirsty take a drink of cool water into your mouth, and then spit it out. Do this to maintain your own self-control over your body, but don’t tell anyone you are doing these things. They are for you.

COMMENTS

The whole point of this manual is to gain self-control over your own body, and that means over your own habits. Your habits are wholly of your own creation, and they are totally within you, and perhaps the most critical habit is that of acquiring and maintaining good habits. That is the point of seeking situations where your good habits can thrive, and conversely identifying those situations where potential bad habits can grow and corrupt you, and acquiring the habit of avoiding them. There was presented the strange idea of intentionally testing your habitual resolve occasionally, and doing it secretly, but it should be done where you know you will succeed, for if you fail it will be counter-productive.

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