The Enchiridon

The Enchiridion

by Epictetus

Enchiridion Passage 1

Some things are in our control and others not.

Things in our control are:

Opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion and hatred.

In other words: Whatever are our own thoughts and actions.(The internals)

Things not in our control are:

Body, property, reputation, others and command.

In other words: Whatever are not our own thoughts and actions. (The externals)

We are only free to control our thoughts, words and actions.

We give away that control when we are weak, addictive or belonging to others.

Enchiridion Passage 4.

When you are going about any action, remind yourself what nature the action is.

Enchiridion Passage 5.

People are disturbed, not by things, but by the ideas which they form about things.

When we fail or are disturbed, let us never blame others but just ourselves. We must attribute it just to our own principles and failings to stick to those principles.

Consider this:

An unskilled person will lay the fault of their own bad condition upon others.

Someone just starting improvement will lay the fault on themselves.

Someone who is perfectly instructed will place blame neither on others nor on themselves. They will be stoic.

Enchiridion Passage 6.

Don’t be prideful with any excellence that is not your own. What, then, is your own?

Only your creativity and your reaction to your view of the world.

Enchiridion Passage 8.

Do not demand that things happen as you wish but wish that they happen as they do happen. Then you will get on well.

Enchiridion Passage 10.

With every bad situation, ask yourself:

What abilities have I for making a proper use of this bad situation? How can I benefit from this?


Not letting the situation hurry you away along with it.

Not letting the effects of the situation drag you down with them.

Enchiridion Passage 11.

Never say of anything, “I have lost it”, but, “I have returned it.”

Enchiridion Passage 13.

If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid with regard to external things and opinions.

Enchiridion Passage 14.

Do you wish to be in control of things which you cannot? Do you wish for things that belong to others to be your own? You will be disappointed. But, if you choose to be not to have your desire out of your control, then you will not be disappointed. This is in your own control.

Exercise, therefore, what is in your control.

Enchiridion Passage 15.

You must behave in life as at a dinner party:

Is anything brought around to you? Put out your hand and take your share with moderation.

Does it pass by you? Don’t stop it.

Has it not yet come? Don’t stretch your desire towards it, wait till it reaches you.

Cultivate virtue.

Enchiridion Passage 19.

You never have to lose, if you stay out of things in which you cannot control the outcome.

When you see celebrity or another’s success do not be fooled by assuming them happy.

If the essence of the things we can control (our thoughts, words and actions) is good then there will be no room for envy or fantasy.

Do not wish to be a leader, but to be free.

Enchiridion Passage 20.

Remember, that it is not the one who insults you but your beliefs about the things they say are insulting. You choose to be insulted.

When anyone provokes you then you must acknowledge the fact that it was just your own opinion which provokes you, not them.

Practice this as soon as you can, every time:

Do not be hurried away with your reaction.

Do not be overwhelmed.

Command yourself.

Enchiridion Passage 28.

If someone else gave your body to a random stranger then you would be angry at them. So why do you feel no anger at yourself when you hand over your own mind to someone who has provoked you?

You foolishly choose to be provoked. You let them provoke you.

Enchiridion Passage 29.

In everything you do consider what precedes it (why you are doing it) and what follows it (what will be the results of your actions), and then undertake it only if you consider it good in both reasons and results.

Enchiridion Passage 38.

When you’re walking you take care not to step on glass or turn your ankle. Take similar care of your attitudes and thoughts. Remember this in everything you do, and you will proceed with confidence.

Enchiridion Passage 41.

It is unskilful to give too much attention to affairs of the body, whether exercise, eating, drinking or other animal functions. So don’t be driven by your stomach, bowel or glands, but focus on your attitudes and drive your focus with reason.

Enchiridion Passage 43.

Everything has two handles, the one by which it should be held, the other by which it should not.

Enchiridion Passage 44.

These reasonings are unconnected:

“I am richer than you, therefore, I am better”;

“I am more educated than you, therefore, I am better.”

The connection is rather this:

“I am richer than you, therefore my property is greater than yours;”

“I am more educated than you, therefore my teacher’s style was better than your teacher’s style.”

But you, after all, are neither property nor style;)

Enchiridion Passage 48.

The condition and characteristic of an unskilful person is that they never look for help or harm from within themselves, but only from external things like other people. The condition and characteristic of a skillful person is that they look to themselves for all help or harm.  

The marks of a skilful person are that they:

Disapprove no one.

Flatter no one.

Blame no one.

Enchiridion Passage 50.

Whatever Moral Principles you have deliberately chosen for yourself, abide by them, as if they were fundamental laws. Consider yourself guilty of wrongdoing by violating any of them.

Ignore what anyone says about you, for this, after all, is no concern of yours, but theirs.

Enchiridion Passage 51.

How long will you procrastinate, putting off thinking yourself worthy and capable of your highest improvements? We can all reach our highest improvements. Follow the distinctions of reason. What are you waiting for? Why do you delay reforming yourself? You are no longer a child, but an adult.

If you:

Are negligent, lazy and slothful.

Add procrastination to procrastination.

Add purpose to purpose.

Postpone day after day the day you will start reforming yourself.

Then you will just continue without getting better, and you will live and die miserable and unskilful.

This instant, now, think yourself worthy of living as an adult, grown up, trying to get skilful and trying to reform.

Let whatever unquestionably appears to be the best way to be become an unbreakable law to you.

In any instance of pain or pleasure, or glory or disgrace, that you must deal with remember that:

Now is the combat.

This is the battle.

Now you fight yourself

And it cannot be put off.