Epictetus (55-135 CE) Enchiridion
A manual for living a contented life
Rendered by Charles Scamahorn (1935- ) 2014
Ordinary people do not expect good things or harms to come from themselves, but from the world around them. Whereas a Stoic expects all benefits and harms to come from within himself. The external signs that a Stoic is becoming proficient are: he praises no one, and he blames no one; he never presents himself as having any status, or as knowing anything special. When he is hindered from anything he looks to himself and his own actions for answers. If someone praises him, the Stoic chuckles to himself about how many unobserved faults he has, and if a person censures him for a fault, he quietly endures, and sets about correcting himself, which means correcting his habits to heal the fault. He has abandoned the desire for personal possessions, and the need for non-natural artificial things. One making good progress employs moderation in all things, and doesn’t worry about appearing simple or ignorant. He watches himself carefully, knowing he has many unwanted habits which can spring into action at the right stimulus.
The Stoic accepts total responsibility for himself and for his actions. He realizes he has an abundance of poor habits, or perhaps even good ones, that may be activated at inappropriate times. Therefore, he must be constantly on guard, and decide which habits to let manifest themselves in action at the present time. When seen this way the path to tranquility and contentment does not seem easy, quite opposite to jolly happiness and passive relaxation.