What good will new countries do you? What use is touring cities and sites? All your dashing about is useless in the end. Do you ask why your flight is of no avail? You take yourself along.
You must shed the load that is on your mind: until you do that, no place will be pleasing to you.
Seneca (4 BC – AD 65), Moral Letters to Lucilius (28.2)
Give it the whole of your attention, whether it be a material object, an action, a principle, or the meaning of what is being said.
This disappointment serves you right. You would rather hope for goodness tomorrow than practise it today.
Marcus Aurelius (AD 120 – 180), Meditations (8.22)
If you want to make progress, put up with being thought foolish and silly with regard to external things, and don’t even wish to give the impression of knowing anything about them; and if some people come to think that you’re somebody of note, regard yourself with distrust.
Epictetus (c.50 – 135), Handbook (13)
The first rule is, to keep an untroubled spirit; for all things must bow to Nature’s law, and soon enough you must vanish into nothingness, like Hadrian and Augustus.
The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are, remembering that it is your duty to be a good man. Do without flinching what man’s nature demands; say what seems to you most just – though with courtesy, modesty and sincerity.
Marcus Aurelius (AD 120 – 180), Meditations (8.5)
Image: Andrew Munro: young Marcus Aurelius, bust from Temple of Flora, Stourhead Gardens, Wiltshire
If anyone wants to be free, then, let him neither want anything nor seek to avoid anything that is under the control of others; or else he is bound to be a slave.
Epictetus (c.50 – 135), Handbook (14.2)
Perfection of character: to live your last day, every day, without frenzy, or sloth, or pretence.
Marcus Aurelius (AD 120 – 180), Meditations (7.59)
Note, unusually, I’ve taken the above from the Gregory Hays translation. My more usual Maxwell Staniforth translation has…
To live each day as though one’s last, never flustered, never apathetic, never attitudinising – here is the perfection of character.
A drop of oil is spilled, a little wine is stolen; say to yourself, ‘Such is the price at which equanimity is bought; such is the price that one pays for peace of mind.’ For nothing can be acquired at no cost at all.
Epictetus (c.50 – 135), Handbook (12.2)
It isn’t the things themselves that disturb people, but the judgements that they form about them.
Epictetus (c.50 – 135), Handbook (5)
Some things are within our power, while others are not. Within our power are opinion, motivation, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever is of our own doing; not within our power are our body, our property, reputation, office, and, in a word, whatever is not of our own doing.
Epictetus (c.50 – 135), Handbook (1.1)
But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to “be happy.” Once the reason is found, however, one becomes happy automatically.
Viktor E. Frankl (1905 – 1997), Man’s Search for Meaning