Making a Principle One’s Own and Epictetus

You must know that it is no easy thing for a principle to become a man’s own, unless each day he maintain it and hear it maintained, as well as work it out in life.

(XXX, The Golden Sayings of Epictetus, trans. by Hastings Crossley, 1909)

You must know that it is no easy thing for a principle to become a man’s own, unless each day he maintain it and hear it maintained, as well as work it out in life.

(XXXI, ibid.)

Epictetus here gives a recipe for changing one’s habits of thought.

“How can I say this today?” “How can I hear this today?” “How can I apply this today?” Repeat each day.

The second part of the recipe, in particular, can be connected to

If a man has frequent intercourse with others, either in the way of conversation, entertainment, or simple familiarity, he must either become like them, or change them to his own fashion. A live coal placed next a dead one will either kindle that or be quenched by it. Such being the risk, it is well to be cautious in admitting intimacies of this sort, remembering that one cannot rub shoulders with a soot-stained man without sharing the soot oneself. What will you do, supposing the talk turns on gladiators, or horses, or prize-fighters, or (what is worse) on persons, condemning this and that, approving the other?

(XCIX, ibid.)

Nowadays, much of what people hear each day comes from mass media. Since it is impossible to change mass media to your own fashion, the only other option is to become like the mass media that you watch. Therefore, choose your mass media carefully. The same applies to social media.

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