Control and Choice
We start off the year discussing the difference between things we can control and things we can’t. Understanding this alone can reduce a lot of life’s anxieties while providing us the foundation for being more thoughtful about how we handle different events and situations.
Some days this can be hard to grasp, especially if we are watching our plans fall apart due to external factors. However, emotional energy is wasted on things outside our sphere of control. Weather, traffic, and other people are outside of our control – and some things like weather and traffic are outside our sphere of influence.
While it is important to understand your are not always in control of the situation, you are in control of your reaction to it. You are not in control of the weather, but you are in control of when you leave or if you go. The events and situations are not good or bad, but it is in how you see them. It is in how you respond to these external events that defines who you really are.
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own…”
— Epictetius, Discourses, 2.5.4-5