William Irvine

“I like all the Roman Stoics, but for different reasons. When I am dealing on an ongoing basis with annoying people, I turn to Marcus Aurelius. As Roman emperor, he had lots of experience dealing with annoying people. When I have an important decision to make, I turn to Epictetus and remind myself that there are things I can control and things I can’t. When I find myself lusting for consumer goods, I turn to Musonius Rufus, who managed quite well on being banished to the desolate island of Gyaros. And when I am feeling sorry for myself, I turn to Seneca. He reminds us that no matter how bad things are, they could be much worse.”

persist and resist

“Two words,” Epictetus says, “should be committed to memory and obeyed by alternatively exhorting and restraining ourselves, words that will ensure we lead a mainly blameless and untroubled life.” Those two words were ‘persist and resist.’

Today, we persist in our efforts—despite any obstacles we might face—and we resist naysayers, discouragement and distractions. We know that today is another day to face what we need to do—but without feeling rushed or worried. We know we are in it for the long haul. Others in our shoes might give up but we are in it for the long haul. Reminding ourselves of this makes it easier to resist all the noise. And to let us continue with our work.

Choice Epitetus

“Demand not that events should happen as you wish; but wish them to happen as they do happen, and your life will be serene.”

“To make the best of what is in our power, and take the rest as it occurs.”

“Sickness is an impediment to the body, but not to the will, unless itself pleases. Lameness is an impediment to the leg, but not to the will; and say this to yourself with regard to everything that happens. For you will find it to be an impediment to something else, but not truly to yourself.”

“I cannot escape death; but cannot I escape the dread of it? Must I die trembling and lamenting?”

“No thing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.”

“Let death and exile, and all other things which appear terrible, be daily before your eyes, but death chiefly; and you will never entertain any abject thought, nor too eagerly covet anything.”

His Lot

True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.



Firstly, be thankful that you have actually woken up, many people will not have this privilege today.

Secondly, plan how you will embrace your virtues and avoid your vices. Pick a particular philosophical precept or a personal strength you want to cultivate and think about how you can incorporate it into the day ahead. Mentally check how you will deal with any difficult situations that know may well arise.

Thirdly, remind yourself that the only things you can control are your thoughts and your actions. Everything else is uncontrollable.