from The Handbook by Epictetus

Start by figuring out a demeanor
you can keep, alone and in company.

Mostly, keep silent. Speak only when
you have to, and then only a few words.

If you must, talk. But don’t
talk about the weather. Or sports.
Or what you like to eat—

the common subjects—
who’s famous; who is in or out;
who is like this one or that one.
Seriously—try to bring the talk
around to something that matters.

Don’t laugh loud or often.
Don’t swear oaths. Avoid
the popular happenings.
Think about who your friend is.

Eat. Drink. Clothe yourself.
Find housing and friends.
Whatever—no luxury. None.

Marry if you have to.

If anyone says someone has
spoken ill of you, don’t make
excuses. Merely say, “That’s
all he said about me?
Wow! If he only knew!”

Or say you go to a show . . .
Don’t say much.
How much is of interest?

Keep your problems
and your adventures
to yourself. Keep your
jokes to yourself. Your
indecencies. And
discourage these in others.


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