Ancient advice: Decide what you can control and what you cannot

I don’t often talk about specific philosophies, specific traditions, in these videos, at least not so far, because I’m not particularly interested in following any particular tradition, in attempting to recreate some kind of system, or to do anything in that kind of organized way.
I’m just interested in what works.
I just want to know- I’m just thinking of ideas that can maybe change the way I think, and help each other to maybe think about things in a new way and look at things in a different way.
So it’s not so much about referring to specific philosophies and their systems.
I think it’s up to each of us to create our own system.
But I have to give credit to the ancient philosophy of Stoicism, because this school of philosophy is just so full of practical wisdom, practical advice, and even though I haven’t mentioned them, I mean, some of what I’ve said in other videos certainly coincides with their teachings.
In fact, a lot of the whole self-development, movement, if it can be called a movement, just the whole world of people talking about self-development and mindset and all this kind of thing, a lot of it, yeah, they already talked about it 2000 years ago.
They covered a lot of this stuff.
And it’s interesting to pull it back from their perspective.
This is an old perspective from the world of the classical Mediterranean, faraway times, and yet a lot of the teachings are just completely easily translatable and applicable to the world now and the way things are now.
Because, as they would have seen it, these are the principles that don’t change.
Yes, all kinds of things change in the world, but there are basic principles that just tend to continue to be true, because they reflect the way things are, independent of, you know, whatever new technological change, new social change, has happened.
So one teaching, one of the central teachings of the Stoics: this idea of making a division, dividing everything that we can think about between what we can control and what we cannot control.
I find this to be very useful to remind myself, because it’s so easy to become very worried and concerned, and maybe angry, preoccupied, with things that are outside our control, things that are up to other people.
Why are other people like this? Why are the people overall like this? Why are those in power this way why is the world going in this direction? Why are all these things happening around me? And it certainly is useful to- although we can have all kinds of discussions about all kinds of things going on, and it’s not to say that we should just completely ignore them, but it’s very useful to just be able to say, to ask myself, what can I actually control? Where are the points where I can actually make a difference? And we can see, certainly, in this situation, is we’re being called, this is a calling to all of us, because the things that are happening are so big, and so, for the most part, outside our control.
The whole changes that are going on, both in the contagion itself and the response to the contagion, the lockdown policies: these are mostly out of our control.
I mean, we can ask ourself, to some degree we can influence the contagion by our own behaviour, and trying not to spread it.
And we can influence the policies through our participation as citizens.
But even though there’s that little bit of control, we have that little bit of ability to one of millions be part of this and make a change, and that shouldn’t be ignored, but to put too much energy into that, and really trying to make change happen and make that our driving central focus, when we have such a small bit of leverage on it: that seems like a recipe for frustration, unhappiness, and really, mediocre results.
Whereas if we can remind ourselves: what are the levers where we can actually really make changes, we can really control? And that comes down to ourselves, our own actions, our own perspective on things, how we interpret things, and how we act.
That’s something that we can control to a big degree.
We can make big changes and have big effects in how we choose to run our day today.
And that seems to be- thinking about that and focusing on that seems to me to be a real bit of medicine for the whole world of worry and anxiety and feeling lost in the big picture.
But within our own little picture, within our lives, we can start from there.
And even if our ambition is still to make big changes out there, by starting with the simple or at least possible changes that we can make within ourselves, start to change the way we act today, and that can start to ripple out.
So, same simple obvious concept, been around for many centuries, but so easy to forget, so that’s why I’m reminding myself right now.

#mindset #inyourcontrol #stoicism #stoic

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *