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Day 9: What We Control And What We Don’t

“Some things are in our control, while others are not. We control our opinion, choice, desire, aversion, and, in a word, everything of our own doing. We don’t control our body, property, reputation, position, and, in a word, everything not of our own doing. Even more, the things in our control are by nature free, unhindered, and unobstructed, while those not in our control are weak, slavish, can be hindered, and are not our own.”


Every day from the time we wake up, we encounter so many events that we can’t control, like meeting someone unpleasant, traffic jams, weather, accidents but we often find ourselves constantly worrying about it. You have to accept the harsh truth that you might get late sometimes due to traffic, your flight might get cancelled due to weather, you might lose your loved one any day in a accident or naturally. You can’t always know how the things will turn out and losing our head worrying about it won’t change things.

Why worry about things you can’t control when you can keep yourself busy controlling the things that depend on you?

 John C. Maxwell

What are the things we can’t control

As a rule of thumb by Epictetus, “anything that is weak, slavish, can be hindered and are not our own“. Some of the examples being:

  • When and where you are born
  • You parents and your family. You sure don’t like your family but you can’t change it
  • You can’t control or change weather
  • You can’t change the past and on the same line control the future
  • You can’t change other people’s mind and their way of thinking. Surely you can influence them but you can’t change anyone who doesn’t want to change
  • You can’t control death. It is inevitable truth and you have to accept it
  • You can’t control other people’s happiness. How much you can try to keep your friend’s and family happy when they are stressed or unhappy, it’s totally only up to them to change their mood
  • You can’t control certain diseases. You can try to adopt a healthy lifestyle but you can’t control them

What are the thing we can control

Again as per Epictetus, ”anything by nature free, unhindered, and unobstructed‘. Some of the examples being:

  • Your opinions on events, circumstances and people
  • Your choice of words, company and your thoughts
  • Your mental and physical fitness
  • Your efforts towards your goal
  • What you talk to yourself
  • Building your own character. Kindness and empathy towards everyone.
Published inPhilosophy & IdeasStoicism

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