92 Quotes By Epictetus To Unlock Your Inner Stoic

stoic books on a table

Looking for some powerful words to help you navigate life’s challenges? Well, then you can’t go wrong with reading some of the best quotes by Epictetus. 

Epictetus became a prominent Stoic philosopher during the rise of the Roman Empire, just as the Romans began embracing Stoicism with veracity.

Unlike his popular Stoic counterparts, Epictetus didn’t start out living a life of importance. Interestingly, he was born a slave, but his words were captivating enough to elevate him to one of the world’s most famous philosophers.

Even though it’s been a long time since Epictetus walked the earth, many of the principles he laid out in his teachings are still relevant to this day.

So let’s dive into some of the most powerful Epictetus quotes and absorb the wisdom of one the greatest philosophers the world has ever seen.


Best Quotes By Epictetus On Life


  • “There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will. ” ~ Epictetus


  • “In prosperity it is very easy to find a friend; but in adversity it is the most difficult of all things.” ~ Epictetus


  • “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Don’t live by your own rules, but in harmony with nature.” ~ Epictetus


  • “You become what you give your attention to. If you don’t choose which thoughts and images you expose yourself to, then someone else will.” ~ Epictetus


  • “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.” ~ Epictetus


  • “It’s simple really: if you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you start something, finish it.” ~ Epictetus


  • “We are not privy to the stories behind people’s actions, so we should be patient with others and suspend judgment of them, recognizing the limits of our understanding.” – Epictetus


  • “If you are ever tempted to look outside for approval, realize that you have compromised your integrity.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Keep the prospect of death before you every day, and you will never have an object thought, or desire anything to excess.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Circumstances don’t make the man, they only reveal him to himself.” ~ Epictetus


  • “It is more necessary for the soul to be cured than the body; for it is better to die than to live badly.” ~ Epictetus


  • “It is the part of a wise man to resist pleasures.” ~ Epictetus


  • “It is better to die of hunger having lived without grief and fear, than to live with a troubled spirit, amid abundance.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Make the best of what is in your power, and take the rest as it occurs.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Keep your attention focused entirely on what is truly your own concern, and be clear that what belongs to others is their business.” ~ Epictetus


  • “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.” ~ Epictetus


  • “On the occasion of every accident that befalls you, remember to turn to yourself and inquire what power you have for turning it to use.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Your happiness depends on three things, all of which are within your power: your will, your ideas concerning the events in which you are involved, and the use you make of your ideas.” ~ Epictetus


  • “The pleasure which we most rarely experience gives us the greatest delight.” ~ Epictetus


  • “It is a universal law — have no illusion — that every creature alive is attached to nothing so much as to its own self-interest.” ~ Epictetus


  • “The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” ~ Epictetus


epictetus quote


  • “Some things are in our control and others are not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, and our actions.” ~ Epictetus


  • “When someone is properly grounded in life, they shouldn’t have to look outside themselves for approval.” ~ Epictetus


  • “The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.” ~ Epictetus


  • “If you want to improve, you must be content to be thought foolish and stupid.” ~ Epictetus


  • “If anyone is unhappy, remember that his unhappiness is his own fault. Nothing else is the cause of anxiety of loss or tranquility except our own opinion.” ~ Epictetus


  • “The chief task in life is simply this; to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control.” ~ Epictetus


  • “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” ~ Epictetus


  • “We need to regularly stop and take stock; to sit down and determine within ourselves which things are worth valuing and which are not; which risks are worth the cost and which are not. Even the most confusing or hurtful aspects of life can be made more tolerable by clear seeing and by choice.” ~ Epictetus 


Quotes By Epictetus On Stoicism

Enjoying this list of quotes so far? Then you might also enjoy this list of Spartan quotes or this list of quotes by Lao Tzu.

If you’d just prefer to keep reading, then here’s some of the best quotes by Epictetus on the stoic mindset.


  • “Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will — then your life will flow well.” ~ Epictetus


  • “First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Restrict yourself to choice and refusal; and exercise them carefully, with discipline and detachment.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Take care not to hurt the ruling faculty of your mind. If you were to guard against this in every action, you should enter upon those actions more safely.” ~ Epictetus


  • “We are at the mercy of whoever wields authority over the things we either desire or detest.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling the desire.” ~ Epictetus


  • “No man is free who is not a master of himself.” ~ Epictetus


  • “It is our attitude toward events, not events themselves, which we can control. Nothing is by its own nature calamitous — even death is terrible only if we fear it.” ~ Epictetus


  • “What concerns me is not the way things are, but the way people think things are.” ~ Epictetus


  • “No one can steal your peace of mind unless you let them.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.” ~ Epictetus


  • “You will never have to experience defeat if you avoid contests whose outcome is outside your control.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Another person will not hurt you without your cooperation. You are hurt the moment you believe yourself to be.” ~ Epictetus


quote on a blue wall


  • “We should realize that an opinion is not easily formed unless a person says and hears the same things every day and practices them in real life.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Those proficient praise no one, blame no one, and accuse no one. They say nothing concerning themselves as being anybody or knowing anything.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Circumstances do not rise to meet our expectations. Events happen as they do. People behave as they are. Embrace what you actually get.” ~ Epictetus


  • “The essence of philosophy is that we should live so that our happiness depends as little as possible on external causes.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Who, then, is the invincible human being? One who can be disconcerted by nothing that lies outside the sphere of choice.” ~ Epictetus


  • “An uninstructed person will lay the fault of his own bad condition upon others. Someone just starting instruction will lay the fault on himself. Someone who is perfectly instructed will place blame neither on others nor on himself.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Just keep in mind: the more we value things outside our control, the less control we have.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Who is your master? Anyone who has control upon which you’ve set your heart, or over things which you seek to avoid.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Deliberate much before saying or doing anything, for you will not have the power of recalling what is said or done.” ~ Epictetus


  • “When your thoughts, words, and deeds form a seamless fabric, you streamline your efforts and thus eliminate worry and dread.” ~ Epictetus


  • “He is a wise man who does not grieve for things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” ~ Epictetus


  • “People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Freedom is not achieved by satisfying desire, but by eliminating it.” ~ Epictetus


  • “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.” ~ Epictetus


  • “It is not the external events themselves that cause us distress, but the way in which we think about them. It is our attitudes and reactions that give us trouble.” ~ Epictetus

  • “If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation. Which is why it is essential that we not respond impulsively to impressions; take a moment before reacting, and you will find it easier to maintain control.” ~ Epictetus


Epictetus Quotes On Success

To wrap up this list, here’s some of the best quotes by Epictetus on achieving success and living a purpose-filled life.


  • “Keep silence for the most part, and speak only when you must, and then briefly.” ~ Epictetus


  • “No great thing is created suddenly.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Now’s the time to get serious about living your ideals. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer.” ~ Epictetus


  • “If you wish to be an extraordinary person, if you wish to be wise, then you should explicity identify the kind of person you aspire to become.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Free is the person who lives as he wishes and cannot be coerced, impeded or compelled, whose impulses cannot be thwarted, who always gets what he desires.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Small-minded people blame others. Average people blame themselves. The wise see all blame as foolishness” ~ Epictetus


  • “It is always our choice whether or not we wish to pay the price for life’s rewards.” ~ Epictetus


  • “When you find your direction, check to make sure that it is the right one.”


  • “Adopt new habits yourself: consolidate your principles by putting them into practice.” ~ Epictetus


  • “It is the nature of the wise to resist pleasures, but the foolish to be a slave to them.” ~ Epictetus


  • “There is a time and place for diversion and amusements, but you should never allow them to override your true purposes.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Do not sabotage yourself by unwittingly adopting negative, unproductive attitudes 


  • “Fortify yourself with contentment for this is an impregnable fortress.” ~ Epictetus


  • “The struggle is great, the task divine — to gain mastery, freedom, happiness, and tranquility.” ~ Epictetus


  • “If your choices are beautiful, so to will you be.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Don’t put your purpose in one place and expect to see progress made somewhere else.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Attach yourself to what is spiritually superior, regardless of what other people think or do. Hold to your true aspirations no matter what is going on around you.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.” ~ Epictetus


epictetus quote on freedom


  • “Contentment comes not so much from great wealth as from few wants.” ~ Epictetus


  • “You should be especially careful when associating with one of your former friends or acquaintances not to sink to their level; otherwise you will lose yourself.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Books are the training weights of the mind.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Check your passions so that you may not be punished by them.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Getting distracted by trifles is the easiest thing in the world… Focus on your main duty.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Give me by all means the shorter and nobler life, instead of one that is longer but of less account.” ~ Epictetus


  • “So if you like doing something, do it regularly; if you don’t like doing something, make a habit of doing something different.” ~ Epictetus


  • “How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?” ~ Epictetus


  • “Stop honoring externals, quit turning yourself into the tool of mere matter, or of people who can supply you or deny you those material things.” ~ Epictetus


  • “We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.” ~ Epictetus


  • “It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Just stick to your principles. And rest assured that, if you remain true to them, the same people who made fun of you will come to admire you.” ~ Epictetus


  • “If you seek truth, you will not seek to gain a victory by every possible means; and when you have found Truth, you need not fear being defeated.” ~ Epictetus


  • “Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant.” ~ Epictetus


Final Thoughts

I hope that the Epictetus quotes covered in this article have provided you with a valuable perspective on attaining fulfillment in life.

Among the many key takeaways from the teachings of Epictetus, here’s the one that personally resonates the most — control what you can control, and everything else will take care of itself.

Many of us tend to be externally focused in life, especially when things aren’t going our way. It’s easy to blame other people and focus on everything that we lack, but the words of Epictetus remind us that this is the quickest path to despair.

So whenever you find yourself overwhelmed by the nature of life, narrow your focus to the positive actions that will move things in the right direction. And just keep moving forward, even if it’s in small ways. If you adopt this approach to life, then nothing can stop you from getting what you want.

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