philosophy

The Only Decision


“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.”
― Epictetus

Have you ever felt that life duties sort of takes over?

Work, exercise, kids, relationships, projects, health, taxes, and so on and so on. Epictetus argues that the happy and the free life lies in the understanding, and I would say implementation, of disregarding the things that are not under your control and focusing merely on the things that do are and then expanding them. The realm of your respond-ability.

I’ve discussed responsibility several times now. It is essential in the Stoic practice. Active responsibility, to choose to respond to your circumstances as best as you see fit, is the core teaching of Stoicism.

There’s a cool allegory in the Discourses of Epictetus that describes this perfectly.

It goes like this, picture yourself playing soccer with your friends or maybe in a match, maybe even in the world cup!

Now picture the ball in the game.

The ball, which is hard to get and hard to keep, does not really care about you winning or the other team, it will go wherever it has to go, just so is with life. Now, you can either get mad and tell the referee that you don’t like the game and that the ball never comes back to you, or you can choose to play. That’s the decision between taking responsibility or not taking any. It really boils down to that simple decision, one and only decision. To play or not to play.

Responsibility/Taking Charge

Focus on the things that are under your control, good advice not doubt, you can’t really do anything else. But yesterday I got an email from The Daily Stoic saying that there is a linguistic difference that changes our perception of Stoicism when we you think in terms of taking charge or taking control.

It just feels different, doesn’t it? One thing is to take control, another to take charge. Taking charge feels definite, no questions or hesitance.

“Don’t let your mind control you. Control your mind.”
― Jocko Willink

Back to the ballgame. You may not be assured that you are going to win the game, but of what you can be sure of is of your capacity to say “I’m going to play the best match, I’ll ever play.

Take Charge of your game, take charge of your life.

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I’m always open to suggestions and am happy to answer any questions. stoicanswers@gmail.com

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