If evil be spoken of you and it be true, correct yourself, if it be a lie, laugh at it.

If evil be spoken of you and it be true, correct yourself, if it be a lie, laugh at it. – Epictetus

A little water doesn't bother this guy. Why should you let a little lie bother you? Like water off a duck's back.

A little water doesn’t bother this guy. Why should you let a little lie bother you? Like water off a duck’s back. Where I’m from, that means you just let it go, and not bother you.

What does that mean?
This is a classic of introspection. It says that people will speak ill of you. It’s going to happen. Unless you’re really young, it’s probably already happened, right?

The quote says take what they said and examine it. It is implied that you also examine yourself. Examine what they said of you, and then compare it to who you really are, and how you actually behave.

The quote tells us that if what they say is true, then get your act together and fix it. We all need a periodic tune up, right? Even if what they say isn’t 100% on the mark, are they close enough to point out something you should improve? If so, you need to get busy!

The quote concludes that if what they said is not the truth, then you should laugh at their words, and possibly, by extension, them as well. Yes, you might want to scream and yell, but what good will that do? Laugh at them and their words, that all may know they are false.

Why is a sense of humor important?  
By this, I don’t mean laughing at a regular joke, but being able to laugh at life and how others treat you. If you have no sense of humor, if everything which happens becomes a personal affront, you’re probably going to have a tough time being happy.

Being able to laugh, even if it is done so as not to cry, you are better off than if you had not laughed. When people treat you badly, they expect a response. Laughter is not the response they expect. If for no other reason than to annoy them, laughter is an excellent response.

Laughter also triggers many changes in your body which help you feel better. It has been reported to reduce pain and promote happiness. Relax and let the laughter flow. You will feel better (exceptions: people with cracked ribs or recent abdominal surgeries).

While it may not always be the most appropriate response, having laughter in your toolbox is a good thing. Remembering it is there, and using it, that will take practice. How often do you allow yourself to laugh? Or are you kind of ‘uptight?’

Where can I apply this in my life?
We all have people talk about us from time to time. How often do people say unkind things about you? To your face or behind your back? How do you respond? Do you laugh, or do you get angry at their lies? How well does that work for you?

Most of us will tend to get a little (or even a lot) annoyed with people we feel are lying about us. That is a fairly normal response. But why do you think they were talking about you in that manner in the first place? Do you think they might have an ulterior motive?

Do you really think they are that poorly informed? Or are they deliberately trying to get you to get mad? They may be relying on your self-control to prevent it from getting too ugly, but they may be messing with your head for any number of reasons, right?

By becoming angry, you are playing right into their hand, right? Do they want to distract you from something else they are doing? How much better could you function with laughter in your heart, instead of anger? Might that be the reason they speak ill (or evil) of you?

But it’s not easy to laugh off an attack. As usual, the easy way is to start small, and laugh at the little things. Those snarky little comments designed to get a dig in, or get under your skin? Ignore them, and give a little chuckle. Try not to let it get to you.

As you get better at it, you will likely find yourself laughing at larger and more ‘serious’ comments, until you can laugh off almost anything they could possibly throw at you. Can you imagine how much better your quality of life would be if you could do that? Well, you can, with some practice.

Just don’t neglect the other half of the quote. If what they say is true, you have some work to do, right? Figure out what it is, and why you do it, then start to work improving yourself. Even if it is said in a mean way, you can always choose to take it as constructive criticism.

Your attitude will help define your altitude. If you’re always looking for ways to be annoyed or hurt by the words of others, you will always succeed. And you will be miserable, both as a person, and to be around. Instead, I would urge you to find a way to laugh it off. Things won’t always go well, and laughter will help.

From: Twitter, @philo_quotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/epictetus385654.html
Photo by John Haslam

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3 Responses to If evil be spoken of you and it be true, correct yourself, if it be a lie, laugh at it.

  1. Teepee12 29 August 2013 at 2:11 am #

    A good one. The good ones are never anonymous. Or so it seems to me.

    • philosiblog 29 August 2013 at 4:20 am #

      Thanks for the comment. Hope you liked it.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. “If evil be spoken of you and it be true, correct itself, if it be a lie, laugh at it.” | Outrun Change - 28 August 2013

    […] That is a classic quote from Epictetus pondered in a post by the same title from Philosiblog. […]

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