Enchiridion of Epictetus – Chapter 8

In Education, Enchiridion of Epictetus, Essays, Philosophy, Self Improvement, Stoicism

Don’t hope that events will turn out the way you want, welcome events in whichever way they happen: this is the path to peace.

This is perhaps the most succinct chapter of the whole Enchiridion, and personally I feel that this should be chapter one, as it expresses the basic tenant of Stoicism very clearly.

The essence of this is that we should live according to nature, and this means accepting that things will not always turn out the way we want them to, but they will simply turn out the way they are intended to turn out.

This is not to say that we cannot affect the outcome of events, but that we should understand that we cannot fully control them, and, more importantly, we shouldn’t even wish to. We should welcome events in whichever way they happen.

This means that no event can disturb us, because everything is exactly as it should be – in accordance to nature. In fact, there is nothing that cannot be in accordance to nature, except our opinions. We might think that something is not in accordance with nature, and this is what troubles our peace.

So when you feel that something has gone “wrong”, or not the way you expected, remember that these negative feelings are coming from your expectations, not from the event itself.

In some ways, this does colour life in a dull and grey manner, a force that cannot be dealt with, that will relentlessly continue without any respect for our plans, wants, and ambitions.

However, this is exactly how life works. Chapter 8 of the Enchiridion of Epictetus is simply telling us that it’s much easier and more profitable to accept this fact and change the way you think about what happens in

Chapter 8 of the Enchiridion of Epictetus is simply telling us that it’s much easier and more profitable to accept this fact and change the way you think about what happens in life than to fruitlessly try and fight it.

If we believe that a good life is one where negative emotion is minimised, and where we allow ourselves to flourish to the maximum of our capabilities, then being able to let the chips fall where they may, is exceedingly good advice.

So take away this: Have a relentless focus on your own behaviour and impression of the events of your life and the world, but whatever you do, don’t wish that things turn out in a different way than they already have.