Discourses and Selected Writings Summary: Key Takeaways

Discourses and Selected Writings by Epictetus

One of the hardest books I have ever read, Epictetus doesn’t give you any clarification of what he has written, you have to decode every single quote you read, and the English is a bit hard too. Nonetheless, it’s a beautiful book, that will make you to questions your life and give a clear idea of how you can improve life.

Discourses and Selected Writings Quotes

“For where you find unrest, grief, fear, frustrated desire, failed aversion, jealousy, and envy, happiness has no room for admittance. And where values are false, these passions inevitably follow.”

“It is not events that disturb people, it is their judgments concerning them.”

“I have learned to see that whatever comes about is nothing to me if it lies beyond the sphere of choice.”

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Discourses and Selected Writings Summary

I will simplify the Discourses and Selected Writings book for you, so don’t worry, I won’t just add quotes but before that, if you want to read this book then you should know these things.

  • The book has hard English, so it might be hard to understand some of the words if you have just learned English.
  • It’s a philosophy book, so the author won’t go deep down after a quote or section of the book. In short, it’s not a simple self-help book like Atomic Habits, and The Courage To Be Disliked.
  • You might get bored if you have just started reading books

That said, let me share with you five key takeaways from this book.

Takeaway 1: Don’t Pay Much Attention to Materialistic Things

It’s a simple thing right, don’t get too attached to Materialistic Things, it could be clothes, tech gadgets, houses, cars, or anything else.

You won’t stay happy forever after you buy a new smartphone, a new TV, or play station. Your happiness will stay for a day or two but after that, you will come back to a normal state.

When you desire to buy a new car, house, or mobile phone then ask yourself one question,

  • Why I’m buying this thing?

If you have a valid answer then go for it.

Now, the answer you have might be valid as per your thinking because you want that new thing. So cut everything from your mind and then ask the question that whether buying a new phone is needed or not.

The same goes for things you already have,

Let’s say when your mother was dying she give you a piece of jewelry by saying, give this to your wife when you get married but somehow you lost that jewelry.

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That last piece of jewelry was very close to your heart because it was the memory of your mother and if you lose that one thing then you will feel disappointed, you will blame yourself, and you will regret that why the hall I didn’t take care of the jewelry.

So what Epictetus is trying to say is, that stay in reality.

If something is gone then it’s gone you can’t do anything about it.

Whatever I have explained here is too long because Epictetus only explained it in three lines.

Takeaway 2: Focus on What You Can Change

For example,

You’re studying for UPSC, you give your 110%, and yet you failed.

Now, you have three options,

  1. Forget about UPSC and do something else.
  2. You tell yourself, next time I will give my 200% and I will clear UPSC no matter what happens.
  3. You tell yourself, I give my 7 years to UPSC and still, I wasn’t able to clear it, this is all my fault, what I will say to my parent, I’m a loser.

So what Epictetus trying to say is,

Focus on things that you have control over and leave the things that you can’t control…

You can study for UPSC, and read every single book but you can’t control the question you will have in the exam.

Takeaway 3: The Choice You Make Today Will Shape Your Future

Let’s make it small and sweet,

  • If you start eating healthy then you will have a healthy body.
  • If you start doing exercise for 30 minutes every day then you will have a good physic.
  • If you read books every day then you will learn something new every day.

Isn’t it simple things but we humans make everything harder, we want the results right now, and we don’t want to wait for years?

Takeaway 4: The People You Spend Time

You want to start a new business but you hang out with people who are afraid to start a business.

They will tell you, don’t start a business, what if you lose money, what if the business didn’t work?

Those people will never push you up, they will push you down because they don’t have the courage to do something out of the box, they’re too afraid but they don’t want to say it out loud.

So hang out with those people who can teach you something and support you, it will be hard to lose friends but in the long run, you won’t regret losing one or two friends.

Takeaway 5: Don’t Get Angry with the Wrong People

Let’s say, you’re watching a movie and your sister comes into your room and asks for help, and you shout at her by saying, why can’t you see it, I’m watching a movie.

Now, imagine, your father comes into your room and tells you to do something then without any questions or saying any word, you will say, I will do it right now.

You get angry with people that you think, won’t say anything and you want to show power, so they don’t repeat the same thing again.

Now, I will leave you with one question,

When you get angry with someone, ask yourself, why I’m angry right now?


Everyone has the same brain but everyone doesn’t have the same experience which is a good thing, so do something about it out. Don’t blame yourself, because of something you did in the past, don’t pay much attention to the future, and be in the present.

The Discourses and Selected Writings is a must-read book, make sure you read it.

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