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.

Stoicism

Some things are in my control and others are not” – I have known this concept for what feels like forever through the Serenity Prayer.

For the first time I have paid more attention to the “things I can change” aspect rather than the things I cannot. I think it is because I heard it in different words (Stoic philosopher, Epictetus), as above: “Some things are in my control and others are not” that opened my eyes. My focus up to now has mostly been on acceptance of the things out of my control. I still think that is valid and useful.

Now I can see more clearly that I have the ability and the right to be assertive around the issues where I do have control. If my motives are virtuous then I need not worry about the opinions of others. By virtuous I mean wise. The main difference in my thinking is not being concerned what others think. A liberating thought!

A Good Day to be like the Stoics

The Daily Stoic, written by Ryan Holiday, includes a wise quote for each day of the year and then a modern day interpretation of the quote. Today’s quote is from Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius. I thought it to be relevant to today amidst the politics of COVID19.