Don't Worry, Be Happy

Well, does this faculty seem to you a small matter? I hope not. Be content with it then and pray to God. But now when it is in our power to look after one thing, and to attach ourselves to it, we prefer to look after many things, and to be bound to many things, to the body and to property, and to brother and to friend, and to child and to slave. When we are bound to many things, we are depressed by them and dragged down. For this reason, when the weather is not fit for sailing, we sit down and torment ourselves, and continually look out to see what wind is blowing. "It is north." What is that to us? "When will the west wind blow?" When it shall choose, my good man, or when it shall please AEolus; for God has not made you the manager of the winds, but AEolus. What then? We must make the best use that we can of the things which are in our power, and use the rest according to their nature. What is their nature then? As God may please!

Do not fume over the things that are beyond your control. Certain things are simply God's will. In the Epistle of James we have a similar idea, (4:14) "You don't even know what your life tomorrow will be! You are like a puff of smoke which appears for a moment and then disappears. What you should say is this, 'If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that.'"

An old Country and Western song (1969) recorded by Bobby Bare and written by Joe Smith intoned, "Good Lord's willin' and the creeks don't rise...watch it 'fore I'll be right there..." Thus, we come to the idea that we are not in control of all the factors around us. We can only bend them to our will to a certain extent, beyond that we only expend our energy in vain. Better to work with what we have and pray to God for the rest.

Chapter 1:

  1. Of the Things Which Are and Are Not in Our Power
  2. What Is Fitting (1a)
  3. Mind Control (1b)
  4. Don't Worry, Be Happy (1c)
  5. Lateranus the Stoic (1d)
  6. Free Will and Zeus (1e)
  7. Thrasea the Roman Senator (1f)
  8. The Reaction of Aggripinus (1g)
Stoicism and Christianity Index

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This is a translation and explanation of the first book of the Discourses of Epictetus. His words are in regular text, comments are in bold.

Biographical Information on Epictetus

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