“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will. ”
There are things that you cannot control, like whether it rains or not during your vacation. Additionally, there are things that you have absolute control over, like laughing like a maniac when you hit your tiny toe just to prove your point that you don’t care, like, it hurts, but you’re still going to laugh about it. And lastly, there are things that you don’t have absolute control over, but that nevertheless you have some influence over.
On the quote above, Epictetus gives us a relatively easy recipe for happiness. Know the difference between what you can control and what you cannot and you’ll be happy. Simple, right?
Stop worrying about the things that you cannot control. OK, that’s the first step, if you think about it, it’s quite obvious, you cannot really do anything else.
But now I ask you, what about the things that you do have absolute control (like your dispositions and attitudes) and the things that you can influence? What are you going to do about those?
This concerns me a lot. It’s not just about the things that we don’t do (and stop caring about, rightfully), but it is also about the things that we do and also care about (as we should).
We are, you are, an active player in the world that affects the entire history of humankind and existence itself (I’m not saying this lightly), whether you like it or not.
Think about that.
Ideas and Actions
Think about the theory of evolution, or string theory, or quantum theory, or even Newton when he thought for the first time about the concept of gravity. Now, thanks to the ideas he had, we are able to fly to the moon and mars!
What the hell!
Don’t you find that astonishing? How many people have come before us, that believe in something so deeply or realize something, and in doing so, they change the way we live and act forever?
“Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems”
The quote above is merely an idea, but reading this idea has repercussions on the way you live your life, and it’s just a thought, written by Epictetus’s student Arrian over two thousand years ago, and yet, here it is, still teaching you and me how to use our minds.
Now, it’s not just ideas that have repercussions on the real world, but actions as well.
Like the story of Sebastiao Salgado. A Brazilian photographer that gave the world images such as this:
Or this one…
Through photography, risking his life to show the world the realities of the human experience around the world, he is making us conscious about our actions as species.
One picture alone can inspire thousands of people to act differently.
Stop worrying about the things that you cannot control. That’s the first step to maturity. The second step concerns your actions.
Being concerned about not being great and famous for doing mighty things is missing the point. But that’s a whole other topic you can check here: Why Do You Want Them To Like You So Much?
I’m asking you now, what could you be doing, for yourself and for others, that you are not currently doing?
By neglecting the things that you could be doing, and even want to do, you are neglecting your power. And the thing is, you could be dangerously powerful if you just began to act, in a good way. You could be a shaper of the world if you wanted to. You could be a force of good and reason, and honestly, we are short of these kinds of people. So why don’t you? What are you going to do about it?
Step one, stop worrying about the things that you cannot control.
Step two, start caring about the things that you can control and influence.
Thanks for reading,
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