“If you want to be free, don’t try to attain anything or try to avoid anything that is dependent on anyone else.” – Epictetus
In his 1895 poem “If” Rudyard Kipling wrote, “If all men count with you but none too much” when describing the manner in which a man should conduct himself. In the poem and the quote from Epictetus above the authors offer the advice of not finding yourself dependent on another person for your own happiness, success or well being.
People will let you down. Even when they do their level best not to, people will fail you. If you put all of your hopes or all of your chances of success in the hands of others you have no one to blame but yourself when things don’t go the way you think they should have.
You also will have no one to blame but yourself if you don’t depend on others for your success or happiness but in that case, you will have been the only party responsible for the outcome.
That doesn’t mean we don’t have to work or depend on people for things. It means that we should not place how we are going to feel about the outcome of a situation or how we feel about anything in the hands of someone else. How we react to a situation, what we learn from an experience and how we implement what we learn are the only things we truly control. Freedom comes from understanding where those limits lie and then building a life that works within those limits.
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