Circle of Control

“We control our reasoned choice and all acts that depend on that moral will. What’s not under our control are the body and any of its parts, our possessions, parents, siblings, children, or country — anything with which we might associate.”
— Epictetus, Discourses, 1.22.10

Once again, we return to the concept of what we control and what we don’t. Further refining it, and reiterating on the importance of it. Here we can clearly see where the line is drawn.

Inside the circle: your choices, your thoughts, your will — things that otherwise depend on your moral will.

Outside the circle: your body, your environment, your possessions, your family, and those around you — in essence, those things in which you are associated.

I believe, this is often why stoics get misinterpreted as unemotional. And in fact, some of the attraction is the idea that emotions can be suppressed. And yet, they are not suppressed – they are managed. Emotions are typically the result of a physical response by the body – something outside our control. What we choose to do with those emotions is what is inside our circle of control.

I listen on and off to the news, but find I am less and less interested – especially when things get translated into the social media platforms. While I keep my finger on the pulse so I can make reasoned choices, I ignore much of the social interactions that result. They create divides between friends, they are not within my control, and generally they do not impact my day-to-day life.

However, to completely put my head in the sand and abstain from current events (world or personal) would deny me the ability to make a reasoned choice. Choices ranging from helping a friend move on the weekend to who to vote for in an upcoming election. We make choices every moment of every day, let them be well reasoned and tied to your moral understanding.

Social media has done nothing but expose us. There is no social media, we are social media. They’re empty platforms, we fill it.” – Gary Vaynerchuk, @garyvee

A wise person knows what’s inside their circle of control and what is outside it.” – Ryan Holiday, The Daily Stoic.

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