Leave All Behind

"On a voyage, when the ship is anchored, if you go on shore to get water, you may gather a small shellfish or cuttlefish along the way as a side issue for yourself, but your thoughts must be directed at the ship and you must be constantly watchful if not the captain calls. And if he calls, leave all of it behind, so you won’t be thrown into the ship bound like cattle. It is the same in life: if instead of a small shellfish and cuttlefish, you are given a wife and child, there is nothing against that. But if the captain calls, rush towards the ship and leave all behind without looking back. And if you are old, don’t even go far from the ship, so you won’t default when you are called."  (Epictetus)

Enchiridion 22: Change With Humility

"If you have an earnest desire of attaining to philosophy, prepare yourself from the very first to be laughed at, to be sneered by the multitude, to hear them say, 'He is returned to us a philosopher all at once,' and 'Whence this supercilious look?' Now, for your part, don't have a supercilious look indeed; but keep steadily to those things which appear best to you as one appointed by God to this station. For remember that, if you adhere to the same point, those very persons who at first ridiculed will afterwards admire you. But if you are conquered by them, you will incur a double ridicule."  (Epictetus, Enchiridion 22)

There's no reason to make a show of whatever you do (practicing the love of wisdom, pursuing self improvement or diet, engaging in some kind of training--preaching to the choir here). People will see changes as you make them and may at first respond in less encouraging ways. Make sure to exercise humility. No need to put on airs about what you are doing. Just be natural in what comes natural to you.

It's easy to fall into a trap of "look what I'm doing." That can lead to humiliation when after a while the excitement dies out and friends ask, "hey, you still doing that thing?" Then you are tempted to come up with a reason that does not sound suspiciously like, "I lost interest" or "I could not do it." Don't put yourself in that position.

But let's say you stick to it--you have successfully made a life-change--don't let that change your demeanor or the way you interact with those around you. Don't look down on people are aren't doing your thing. Be admired for embracing the change with humility, and not set yourself up as an object of ridicule.

Whatever you do, do it well.

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