Very few of us would have ever heard of Epictetus or the fact that his wisdom has made the philosophy of “stoicism” stay alive even today.
For beginners – Stoicism is a very powerful form of philosophy. Its concept is very simple but extremely powerful – be aware of what you can control and what you cannot; bringing in that awareness means you can change what you control and learn to accept what you cannot.
Epictetus was a slave, some 2000 years ago. His master gave him a permanent broken leg and he lived an entire life of poverty. Yet, by discovering this philosophy of stoicism, despite his excruciating circumstances, he lived a very happy and fulfilled life.
His way to deal with life - everything in your life is your responsibility, and every negative occurrence is bad because of how you dealt with it, not what happened. You should expect to be treated unfairly, you should know that things will be hard, and you should be ready for stress and pain.
With this awareness, what you do is that you learn to take responsibility for all the annoyances and frustrations in life and you react negatively, it is because of your own inability to deal with them.
What this awareness does is show us that it is the internal, rather than external factors that shape how life plays out.
And one very good way to achieve this is to diversify your sources of joy. Just as you do not put all your money in one stock or sector, it is imperative to not associate only one thing- your work, as your purpose of life; or your child or spouse or siblings as your source of joy. Having diverse sources of joy and meaning will protect you from falling too far into the depths of misery when something unforeseeable disrupts your life.
All this reads very easy but very difficult to practice but not impossible – we only need to make this thought process into a habit and we will stop seeing challenges and difficulties as something other than challenges and difficulties.