Action

by Tom Swift

Most people don’t realize that both help and harm [come] from within ourselves. Instead they look to externals, mesmerized by appearances.

Wise people, on the other hand, realize that we are the source of everything good or bad for us. They therefore don’t resort to blaming and accusing others. They aren’t driven to convince people they are worthy or special or distinguished.

If wise people experience challenges, they look to themselves; if they are commended by others, they quietly smile to themselves, unmoved; if they are slandered, they don’t feel the need to defend their name.

But they go about their actions with vigilance, assuming that all is well, yet not perfectly secure. They harmonize their desires with life as it is and seek to avoid only the things that would prevent their ability to exercise their will properly. … And if they seem ignorant or unsophisticated, it is of no concern to them. They know that they only have to watch out for themselves and the direction of their own desires.

-Epictetus, Manual for Living (1994, Sharon Lebell translation)