The small price of tranquility

If you intend to improve, throw away such thoughts as these: if I neglect my affairs, I shall not have the means of living: unless I chastise my slave, he will be bad. For it is better to die of hunger and so to be released from grief and fear than to live in abundance with perturbation; and it is better for your slave to be bad than for you to be unhappy (1). Begin then from little things. Is the oil spilled? Is a little wine stolen? Say on the occasion, at such price is sold freedom from perturbation; at such price is sold tranquillity, but nothing is got for nothing. And when you call your slave, consider that it is possible that he does not hear; and if he does hear, that he will do nothing which you wish. But matters are not so well with him, but altogether well with you, that it should be in his power for you to be not disturbed.(2)

1: He means, Do not chastise your slave while you are in a passion, lest, while you are trying to correct him, and it is very doubtful whether you will succeed, you fall into a vice which is a man’s great and only calamity. Schweig.

2: The passage seems to mean, that your slave has not the power of disturbing you, because you have the power of not being disturbed. See Upton’s note on the text. 1

With another wording:

Starting with things of little value—a bit of spilled oil, a little stolen wine—repeat to yourself: For such a small price I buy tranquility and peace of mind.