Unchangeable

As if all was safe and well with you, you have dwelt upon the final area of study, which has to do with unchangeability, so that you can make yourself unchageable—in what? Your cowardice, means-spiritedness, admiration for the rich, your failure to achieve what you desire, and your lack of success in avoiding what you want to avoid. These are the things that you have been laboring to secure.

~ Epictetus

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Modulation

Diet modulates weight. Nutrition quality will improve how fast you lose or gain weight. Exercise modulates body composition. Exercise intensity will improve how fast your body composition changes.

~ Steven Low, modified from, http://stevenlow.org/the-relationship-between-diet-and-exercise/

Frankly, diet and exercise are topics that require a lifetime of study. The four sentences above—which I’ve reordered, but not otherwise edited—are as simple as I’d be willing to go in a description of “diet and exercise.” Fortunately, Low goes on. Much farther on.

I’ve tried a lot of things, and I’m confident that while several of them were turning points for me, not a single one of them is a panacea. In a very real sense, this meat-bag is nothing more than a moderately complex, space ship for my consciousness. It’s dented, sure, but it has a lot of good miles left on it.

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Then act accordingly

First tell yourself what sort of man you want to be; then act accordingly in all you do. For in almost everything else we see this to be the practice. Athletes first determine what kind of athlete they want to be, and then act accordingly. … You will find the same in the arts. If you are a carpenter, you will have these procedures, if a blacksmith, those. For, if we do not refer each of our actions to some standard, we shall be acting at random; if to an improper standard, we shall fail utterly.

~ Epictetus

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On becoming somebody

No sign of any good habit, no attention or regard to yourselves. You do not watch yourself closely and ask, “How do I deal with the impressions that befall me? In accordance with nature or contrary to nature? As I ought, or as I ought not to? Do I say to the things that lie outside the sphere of choice that they are nothing to me?” If you are not yet in this state, fly from your former habits, fly from all laymen, if you ever want to make a start on becoming somebody.

~ Epictetus

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Training

For who is the man under training? The man who practices not exercising his desire, and directing this aversion only to things that lie within the sphere of choice, and who practices the hardest in the things most difficult to achieve. So different people will have to practice harder in different respects.

~ Epictetus

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Real progress

If progress is real despite our whining, it is not because we are born any healthier, better, or wiser than infants were in the past, but because we are born to a richer heritage, born on a higher level of that pedestal which the accumulation of knowledge and art raises as the ground and support of our being. The heritage rises, and man rises in proportion as he receives it.

~ Will and Ariel Durant from, https://fs.blog/2016/05/human-technological-progress-real-illusion/

So much is written and discussed about history: recording it, studying it, learning (or not) from it, does it repeat or rhyme, etc.. But why don’t more people talk about each of our personal histories? The most important thing— The thing I unequivocally must do, and must do first, is to take care of myself. (“Put on your own oxygen mask before attempting to assist others.”) I must put myself first. I must be the change I want to see in the world. Only if I am healthy, empowered, and vigrously prepared can I sally forth to do good things.

Certainly, I can work on myself by studying humanity’s history for lessons. You know what works better? Studying my history, because there are so many questions I can usefully ask of myself. What couldn’t I accomplish if I spent decades studying my own history and studying humanity’s?

That would be real progress.

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Actions and perceptions

Operatics, combat and confusion. Sloth and servility. Every day they blot out those sacred principles of yours—which you day-dream thoughtlessly about, or just let slide. Your actions and perceptions need to aim: at accomplishing practical ends; at the exercise of thought; at maintaining a confidence founded on understanding. An unobtrusive confidence—hidden in plain sight.

When will you let yourself enjoy straightforwardness? Seriousness? Or understanding individual things—their nature and substance, their place in the world, their life span, their composition, who can possess them, whose they are to give and to receive?

~ Marcus Aurelius

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Epithets

Epithets for yourself: Upright. modest. Straightforward. Sane. Cooperative. Disinterested.

Try not to exchange them for others. And if you should forfeit them, set about getting them back. Keep in mind that “sanity” means understanding things—each individual thing—for what they are. And not losing the thread. And “cooperation” means accepting what nature assignes you—accepting it willingly. And “disinterest” means that the intelligence should rise about the movements of the flesh—the rough and the smooth alike. Should rise about fame, above death, and everything like them.

~ Marcus Aurelius

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Willing acceptance

To do harm is to do yourself harm. To do an injustice is to do yourself an injustice—it degrades you. And you can also commit injustice by doing nothing. Objective judgement, now, at this very moment. Unselfish action, now, at this very moment. Willing acceptance—now, at this very moment—of all external events.

~ Marcus Aurelius

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