52 in 52 Book Summaries

Art of Living by Epictetus

the art of living by epictetus forces of habit book summary for the art of living by epictetus

The Art of Living: The Classical Mannual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness by Epictetus and Sharon Lebell


The Essence

Philosopher Epictetus’s classic text on Stoicism resurges through the voice of writer Sharon Lebell. A manual to widen the accessibility of some of the greatest ideas in western thought. The Art of Living reminds us the harness the powers of our minds to navigate the internal and external landscapes that exert forces upon each of our daily decisions. Gradually, we can refine ourselves to cultivate states that promote a virtuous, happy, and effective life.

The Art of Living Journal Entry Notes:

This is my book summary of The Art of Living. My notes are a reflection of the journal write up above. Written informally, the notes contain a mesh and mix of quotes and my own thoughts on the book. Sometimes, to my own fault, quotes are interlaced with my own words. Though rest assured, I am not attempting to take any credit for the main ideas below. The Journal write up includes important messages and crucial passages from the book.

The prescription for a good life centers on 3 main themes:

Mastering your desires.
Preforming your duties.
Learning to think clearly about yourself and that relation with the larger community of humanity.

• Am I doing my part to contribute to the spiritual progress of all with whom I come in contact?
• Stoicism vets our choices of thought, word, and deed to help us live clear-sighted, ennobled lives and virtuous live
• Most people tend to delude themselves into think that freedom comes from doing what feels good or what fosters comfort and ease. The truth is that people who subordinate reason to their feelings of the moment are actually slaves of their desires and aversions.

• Desire and aversion though powerful, are but habits. And we can train ourselves to have better habits
• IT is not things that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance. STOP scaring yourself with impetuous notions with your reactive impressions of the way things are.
• Those who are dedicated to a life of wisdom understand that the impulse to blame something or someone is foolishness
• Coping calmly with this inconvenience is the price I pat for inner serenity, for freedom from perturbation; you don’t get something for nothing.
• Other people’s views and troubles can be contagious. Don’t sabotage yourself by unwittingly adopting negative attitudes through your associations.

• All events contain an advantage for you-look for it.
• When anyone seems to be provoking you, remember that it is only your judgement of the incident that provoke you. Don’t let your emotions get ignited by mere appearances.
• Do not try to seem wise to others. If you want to live a wise life, live it on your own terms and in your own eyes.
• You become what you give your attention to. We become small-minded if we engage in discussion about other people.
• Most of what passes for legitimate entertainment is inferior or foolish and only caters to or exploits people’s weaknesses.
• Only the morally weak feel compelled to defend or explain themselves to others.
• Through vigilance, we can forestall the tendency to excess; observe proper proportion and moderation.

• The first task of the person who wishes to live wisely is to free himself from the confines of self-absorption.
• There is a big difference between saying valuable things, and doing them; look to the example of people whose actions are consistent with their professed principles.
• Concentrate ion the small but significant inner moral choices we make in the course of any day.
• Notice what’s actually happening, not just what you think is happening or wish were happening. Look and listen.
• Many socially taught beliefs are so deeply ingrained that they are hidden from our own view. The commonplace sluggishness of the lives lived by undisciplined is dangerously contagious, for we often are exposed to no alternative healthful way of living.
• Don’t just say you have read books. They are very helpful, but it would be a mistake to suppose that one has made progress simply by having internalized their content.
• Human betterment is gradual.
• To live a life of virtue, you have to become consistent, even when it isn’t convenient, comfortable, or easy.
• The virtue that leads to enduring happiness is not a quid pro quo goodness. Goodness in and of itself is the practice and the reward.
• When you begin your program of spiritual progress, chances are the people closest to you will deride you or accused you of arrogance, it is your job to comport yourself humbly and to consistently new your moral ideals. If you are steadfast, the very people who ridiculed you will come to admire you.

If you liked what you saw. Here are 3 titles that I recommend based on what was discussed in The Art of Living.

  1. How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life by Massimo Pigliucci
  2. On the Shortness of Life: Life Is Long if You Know How to Use It by Seneca
  3. The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene

Find the book on Amazon: Print | Audio

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