What’s truly amazing about this quote is when it came from. Yes… when. It is credited to Epictetus, a philosopher who lived from 55AD to 135AD. He was a Greek-born slave in Rome who became a great philosopher and teacher, and was eventually granted his freedom.
“If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”
There’s a lot of comfort to be found in knowing we aren’t the only ones who’ve struggled with trying to find our way in an increasingly complex world. As can be seen with these additional Epictetus quotes, people have been struggling with the same basic problems, situations, and issues throughout time.
“Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.”
At the very least, these quotes are absolute evidence that we aren’t the only ones trying to do and be more. If people in Epictetus’s time needed to be reminded that there are other ways to approach life rather than being satisfied to live a life by default, then you gotta know that getting stuck is just part of the process of living.
“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.”
It’s nice to know there have always been people thinking about how to live a life worth living—probably even before anyone listening to what those first teachers had to say was capable of writing down what they were saying. It’s a relief to know that even though they weren’t able to provide definitive answers either, they were able to provided approaches to life’s conundrums that have quite literally stood the test of time. Each of these ancient quotes (and the not-so-ancient quote at the end) is just as relevant today as it was over 2000 years ago...
“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”
- Valerie Utton