Decide What You Can Control
Focus on what is within your control to simplify life.
Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, stated that the most important choice in life is whether to concern ourselves with things external to us or things internal. Expending energy and time trying to change people and events we do not have complete control over is futile. People waste precious time fighting external battles when the path to peace comes from within. Decide what you can control to gain tranquility, freedom, and calm.
Where we spend our precious energy and time dictates the quality of our life and is completely within our control. Adopting a mindset where our focus is internal instead of external to us is the most important choice for our precious life. We have all got sucked into situations that are frustrating, are not fair, or do not make sense. It’s often the case that we do not control the situation or outcome. It’s in cases like this that we are better suited to remain calm and logically reposition how we look at these situations.
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Each hour during the day is an opportunity to ask yourself and decide if what you are spending time on can deliver an outcome you can control. Time is your most limited resource – it’s finite and you do not control how much you have left. Be stingy about who and what deserves your time.
External forces can wreak havoc on our lives and even when we focus our energy on things we control. Nobody can completely control what happens throughout their life. But it’s the interpretation and meaning we place on events throughout our lives and how we respond that can be a game-changer.
There must be another, more sane way to approach life. For example, what would happen if we respected the flow of life and used our free will to participate in what’s unfolding, instead of fighting it?
1 – Pause With Calmness to Stimulus.
Delay your natural action to respond to surprises, failure, or immature behavior.
Ask yourself, is this something I can completely control?
Proceed with confidence and focus if the answer is “yes”.
Remain calm and do not expend energy if the answer is “no”.
Free your mind and conserve energy.
2 – Change Your Desires.
Do not spend time and energy trying to change the world around you.
Change yourself by changing what you want – desires you can control completely.
Desire things that are up to you and not someone else.
Focus on your values, opinions, goals, and your internal being.
3 – Embrace Your Complete Control.
Filter out what you do not control.
Ignore the opinions and attitudes of others you do not respect.
Embrace your power to assign value to the things that are uniquely you.
Build and behold your character as your ultimate form of control.
5 – Follow What You Have Been Called to Do.
Gain a deeper awareness of the forces that shape your life.
The reality is that we cannot control everything – some things call us.
Embrace a surrender experiment to be open, curious, and brave about where life can take you.
The natural flow of life may take you to places you never imagined.
Experiment With This
Think about something that is bothering you and consuming valuable time. Is the resolution to this issue something you can control? If not, free yourself by redefining how you see it and re-allocating your time to what you can control.
Inspect your current goals – which ones are in your complete control or partial control?
Be accountable to yourself for completely owning and valuing your character – what would you change?
Reflect on the flow and forces of your life. Are you fighting against what may be your calling? Are you open to a surrender experiment where you are no longer controlled by your personal fears and desires?
A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine (Chapter 5 – The Dichotomy of Control – On Becoming Invisible)
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene (Law 36 – Disdain Things You Cannot Have: Ignoring Them is the Best Revenge)
The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph – by Ryan Holiday (Control Your Emotions, Is It Up To You?)
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson (Chapter 5 – You Are Always Choosing)