“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will. ”
Unhappiness comes from not being able to tell what’s your problem and what is not your problem. Peace of mind comes once you are able to make the distinction and act accordingly.
It’s the famous ‘focus on the things that are under your control’ Stoic precept. It’s easy, right? But not so much, sometimes I kept forgetting this lesson and couldn’t really apply it to my day to day life. I felt somehow stuck and needed an easier technique to practice. I found it. I recently read “The seven habits of highly effective people” by Stephen Covey
Stephen Covey’s circle of influence and circle of concern, which basically is the same idea of control from Epictetus, but frankly, better to understand and more applicable to daily life.
The two circles: Influence and Concern
These two circles represent the things that are under your control and the things that are not.
Within your circle of concern, you’ll find the many things that you care about but that is not under your control. Such as the decisions your president makes or not and whether your friend will marry the girl you know is going to cheat on him. Whether you are going to get that promotion or not, and whether you are going to be able to make it on time with all the damn traffic. You have no control over this circle and although you might care about what happens here, you really have no choice but to stop caring. The more time you spent on this circle, the more you empower what’s in it. You should never spend even one second of your time preoccupying yourself about what happens or does not in here. Instead…
Focus on your circle of influence. Your circle of influence is your circle of control. It represents all the things that you can actually do something about. Such as having a deep, personal conversation with your friend about what you think is best for him or preparing a killer resume for the new job you want.
In reality, you have a lot of power, but if your focus is placed mainly in your circle of concern, you will not be even able to consider the options you have in your circle of influence, which quite frankly, once you make the switch, ARE A LOT.
Focusing on your influence, that is, in the things that are under your control and nothing more, will guarantee a more effective, happy, and peaceful life.
Now, how to go about this?
Know the difference.
Once you’re finished reading this, think about where you are directing your attention. You need to take control of your attention and focus it on your circle of influence, it’s simple, but not easy. Our heads are constantly bugging us with the circle of concern, this requires practice.
If someone is having a hard time at work and is constantly complaining. Categorize it. Is it within your circle of influence or concern? Concern right? Discard it. Now, reframe, what can I do instead?
Putting some music and relying on yourself for self-amusement? That’s inside your influence circle. Work there.
Categorize everything. Place your attention in your circle of influence.
You’ll be amazed by how much unnecessary bullshit we concern ourselves with.
But, fortunately, there is a way out. Focusing on the things that you can control, that is, your circle of influence.
“Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.”
a great complement to this read: Are You A Pretender?
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