Some things are in my control …

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.

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 do 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

Uncertain Times

Our World has faced an unprecedented time these last few months due to Covid19. Each country has been impacted differently and has responded in its own way. Only history will help us see what we could have done better and what were our good decisions.

My life hasn’t changed enormously but there have been some changes in the daily routines. We have missed the luxury of being able to go to the gym. I had been going regularly for about 18 months and found it to be really good for my mental health and well-being. I also feel a bit fitter too!

The retirement community where I live has been very quiet with very few guests passing through. The lock-down has created a feeling of solidarity among residents and greater desire to say hello and chat when the opportunity arises.

Now there is talking about relaxing restrictions. In many ways we do want that to happen, but not too quickly – for safety sake but also I have come to like the SLOW life and not sure I can pick up the fast pace again.

Anyway, I shall take each day as it comes and enjoy what it has to offer!

Photo by Sophie Xiang on Facebook

A SPECIAL GIFT

The pretty blue fairy wrens had nothing to do

When one of them spotted a pretty blue stone

One said “I will fly close and inspect it for you”

He soon called out for help to carry it home.

Just at that moment very close by, a little girl is born

She is very sick and might not live

Her parents are indeed quite forlorn

The fairy wrens decide they have something important to give.

They magically carry the precious blue stone to the babe

And cleverly hide it in her tiny navel

They disappear quickly into a nearby cave

And wait for news via twitter or cable.

The little girl is now better and going home to stay

Her lovely eyes are becoming a pretty shade of blue

The tiny blue stone glows within her each and every day

As she gets older the wrens decide to give her a clue.

She learns that the little blue stone

Is full of love, wisdom, truth, beauty and kindness

It is always there to help her when she feels so alone

It frequently helps her out of a mess.

Inside she becomes beautiful, wise, honest, loving and kind

But others don’t seem to know about her little blue stone

She wants to tell them, if they look carefully, they too will find

There is a special gift inside each of us waiting to lovingly bring us home.

NB. Looking back through my old writing files and came across this one I thought I would share.

Humanities’ Search for Meaning

When I was leading a University of the Third Age (U3A) group about retirement (called Retired: Now What?) I was doing some online research on the topics I wanted to cover: how we use our time; meaning; purpose; relationships etc.

The Positive Psychology ‘movement’ (Martin Seligman PhD) has developed a model called PERMA. I was pretty excited about this formula that seemed to cover many aspects of life. PERMA is an acronym for: Positive emotions; Engagement; Relationships; Meaning; and Accomplishment.

I also came across an article of an interview where Viktor Frankl was asked how he felt about the success of his book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. His answer was very telling. He said (paraphrased by me) he was alarmed that the topic hit a nerve with so many people and it emphasised how much we DO search for meaning.

This awareness (of the search for meaning) is one of life’s universal experiences even if we are not consciously aware of it. I don’t ever envisage waking up one day and finding the answers but I will continue to enjoy the journey and keep asking the questions.

consciousness

SO, guess what my next U3A course is going to be? It is a shift from looking at psychology to studying and discussing philosophy. I have been interested in philosophy for about fifteen years and read a few books on this very large topic! One in  particular is written by Alain De Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy, and published by Penguin Books. We will be using this book as the basis for the course. Here is an excerpt from the author’s website.

The Consolations of Philosophy

In Ancient Greece or Rome, philosophers were seen as natural authorities on the most pressing questions. However, since then, the idea of finding wisdom from philosophy has come to seem bizarre. Enter a university department today and ask to study wisdom, and you will politely but firmly be shown the door. The Consolations of Philosophy sets out to refute the notion that good philosophy must be irrelevant and gathers together six great philosophers who were convinced of the power of philosophical insight to work a practical effect on our lives.

Course starts on 18 July.