Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling the desire.

What did Epictetus mean by:

Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling the desire.


This quote emphasizes the concept of self-control and self-discipline as the primary means of attaining freedom. It suggests that freedom is not about having everything we want or desire, but rather, it’s about being able to control these desires.

In essence, it proposes that freedom lies not in the fulfillment of our desires but in our ability to manage, control, or even transcend them. It implies that the uncontrolled pursuit of desires could lead to a form of enslavement, as we become prisoners to our own wants and cravings. True freedom, according to this perspective, is being able to choose our desires mindfully and not being controlled by them.

Applying this concept to the modern world, it can be seen in the context of consumerism and the culture of instant gratification. We are constantly bombarded with messages encouraging us to buy more, to want more, to desire more. However, this quote suggests that to achieve true freedom, we need to resist these messages and take control of our desires.

In terms of personal development, this idea encourages us to practice self-discipline and mindfulness. It promotes the development of an inner strength that enables us to resist the urge to always want more and instead, find contentment in what we already have. This doesn’t mean we should not strive for more or have ambitions, but rather, we should not let these desires control us or define our sense of happiness and fulfillment.

Moreover, it can be a powerful tool in dealing with addictive behaviors, procrastination, and emotional impulsivity. By learning to control our desires, we can make more rational decisions, prioritize our actions better, and ultimately lead a more balanced and fulfilling life.

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