Some things are in our control … others are not.

Epictetus

Epictetus

“Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our actions. The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free, and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you not be harmed.”
― Epictetus, Enchiridion and Selections from the Discourses

I thought it would be worthwhile to look more closely at what things are, and are not, in my control. Have I missed any biggies?

Things in my controlThings not in my control
Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Such as:
My perspective and opinions;
How I treat other people;
How I respond to how other people treat me;
What hobbies and interests I choose to pursue;
How much exercise I do;
What I eat and drink;
How I wear my hair, makeup, and clothes;
How I spend and/or invest my savings and my time;
What I study, read, watch or listen to;
What I choose to plant in my garden;
How generous or not I am with my possessions and time;
Who I choose to spend my time with;  
What values I have.
Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our actions.
Such as:
Getting older;
Other people and their opinions of me;
Whether other people agree with me or not;
Whether other people listen to me or not;
Whether other people understand me or not;
Actions by other people;
The weather;
My genetic code;
The stock markets;
Other peoples’ actions;
Death and illness;
Disasters such as pandemics, bush fires, floods etc.
Wars;  
The past and the future.

6 thoughts on “Some things are in our control … others are not.

  1. It’s a great checklist Rainee. I started reading Live Like a Stoic but have fallen behind with the journalling part of the journey. I could get bogged down in the self-reflexive exercises so decided to enjoy the read before settling down, maybe in 2021, to start again and work through each week of the year. It would be a very stabilising journey and who knows what next year holds for each of us. Take care xx Linda

  2. https://donaldrobertson.name
    Hi Linda, thanks for your thoughts. I did a four week online course with Donald Robertson on Stoicism and really enjoyed it. You can find him on YouTube as well and he is very easy listening and so enthusiastic about Stoicism that it is catchy. I do hope that 2021 is full of wonderful surprises for you xxx

  3. Pingback: Some things are in our control … others are not. – mostly philosophy

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