I’m still working my way through Poor Charlie’s Almanack about the teachings of Charlie Munger. The book is very dense with broad ideas and includes references to many scientists, businesspeople, and ancient philosophers I’ve never heard of before.
One of these ancient philosophers was Epictetus, who was born a slave but eventually became free and taught philosophy in Rome and Greece. I couldn’t find the “morals” found in the book listed in the same manner elsewhere, so I wanted to share them below. The bolded sentences are English translations of his writings, and after that are my personal notes and interpretations.
First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak. Don’t open your big yap unless you know what you’re talking about. This seems to have changed to “open your yap all day long without knowing anything, and you’ll get your own show on television.”
He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. Appreciate all the many things you have before you complain about the things you don’t have.
If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid. Let others teach you. It’s better to look stupid for a while than actually be stupid forever.
It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows. Some people just think they know it all, which eventually makes it much more likely that they don’t know anything.
It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. Everyone gets dealt a different hand of cards – it’s how you play them that matters.
Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. Success is not winning. As coach John Wooden said “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
No man is free who is not master of himself. Self-discipline is key.
Only the educated are free. I found more meaning to this after finding the full quote to be “We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free.”
People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them.
The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.
Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.
It’s always interesting to find something written 2,000 years ago that is still perfectly applicable today. As a Stoic, Epictetus thought humans should be concerned less with external events outside our control, and more concerned with our reactions and behaviors to those events which are under our control. I like this idea, and will try to focus on sharing positive actions to improve our financial situations. I find this more productive than simply venting about the (admittedly many) negative things happening in the world.
By Jonathan Ping | Simple Living | 4/13/12, 2:27am