Epictetus on Disagreements and Acceptance

When I meet people with beliefs I consider absurd and unfounded, I can only remember Epictetus. “Wisdom,” he suggested, “is knowing what is in your power and what is not.” What is in our power, we can act to change; what is not, we can only accept. The beliefs of others are not in our power. We can try to present our case to them through physical demonstrations and logical arguments, but if they still refuse to change their ways of thinking, we can only accept this fact.

When we do not accept that others will hold the beliefs they will hold regardless of what we say, we remain unhappy. When we accept this fact, we preserve our serenity. Therefore, it is wiser to accept and let go than to stubbornly cling to the belief that we can never be happy until everyone believes as we do.


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