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If something's out of your control, should you still worry about it? | Oliver Burkeman

Knowing what we can control

If we could manage never to fret about things we can’t control, then life would proceed calmly. However, the truth of this statement can't bring peace of mind by itself.

One of the many things we can't control is our emotions. If a global pandemic triggers anxiety about death or job security, anxieties formed over decades, it is almost impossible to think yourself into realizing they're insignificant.

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If something's out of your control, should you still worry about it? | Oliver Burkeman

If something's out of your control, should you still worry about it? | Oliver Burkeman

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/apr/10/if-somethings-out-of-your-control-should-you-still-worry-about-it-oliver-burkeman

theguardian.com

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Key Ideas

What we can control

In every situation, there are things we can control and things we can’t. We can control what we say or do, but trying to control what we can't is a recipe for anxiety and stress.

Knowing what we can control

If we could manage never to fret about things we can’t control, then life would proceed calmly. However, the truth of this statement can't bring peace of mind by itself.

One of the many things we can't control is our emotions. If a global pandemic triggers anxiety about death or job security, anxieties formed over decades, it is almost impossible to think yourself into realizing they're insignificant.

The dichotomy of control

A preliminary tool is to separate what you can control from what you can't. But you will only have peace of mind if you begin taking action in the realm of what you can control.

We often have far more control than we realize. You can't stop a worldwide spread of a disease, but you can do a lot to prevent it from spreading to you: you can choose to eat well and to move. You can't choose to get through today's to-do list, but you can choose to spend the next three hours diligently attacking it.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

One of the reasons why Stoicism is enjoying a revival today is that it gives concrete answers to moral questions.

Aristotle gave us an alternative conception of happiness

It cannot be acquired by pleasurable experiences but only by identifying and realizing our own potential, moral and creative, in our specific environments, with our particular family, friends and colleagues, and helping others to do so. 

Self-Sufficiency

Stoicism is essentially about assigning things their proper, real value. It identifies what is in our control, and what is beyond us, in our lives.

Stoic virtues of moderation, ...

Our Sphere of Control

Contentment and being self-sufficient is about focussing your time and energy on things that you do something about.

You are responsible for the things you can impact; all the other things are beyond your control.

The Proper Value

Identify what's in your control, what's beyond, and what is in between.

Those things which are in your control should be a priority, and where you should put your time and energy.

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A practical philosophical school

Stoicism became popular in the Roman Empire. Slaves like Epictetus, rich people like Seneca or emperors like Marcus Aurelius found guidance for life in it.

Events don’t upset you

Beliefs about events do. Bad feelings are caused by irrational beliefs, so if you’re feeling negative emotions, focus on the belief you hold about what happens. 

For stoics there is no good or bad, there’s only perception. And you control perception. 

Control what you can

Ignore the rest. We worry about things that we have no control over. But worrying never fixed anything

The stoics are saying that if you focus your energy on what you can change, you’re going to be a lot more productive and effective. 

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