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How To Deal With Things You Can't Control

Last week, we talked about protecting our peace by avoiding pointless arguments. This week, we’ll explore chaos and the importance of holding loosely to the things beyond our control. 

Life is full of suffering and pain. Trials pound us like waves on the shore, and if we let them, they wash away the best parts of us and leave behind nothing but hard, jagged rocks where our hearts should be. 

Unfortunately, we cannot prevent hardships in our lives:

  • People we trust will abuse us, lie to us, and steal from us
  • Global events will shake up the job market and wreck our finances
  • Natural disasters will destroy the things we’ve worked for
  • Time and fate will take away the people we love before we’re ready to let them go

It’s difficult to face the darker truths of existence. Some people hide from the truth and seek refuge in toxic positivity. Others get so overwhelmed by darkness that they experience perpetual anxiety. 

So how should we prepare for and respond to suffering? 

We seek balance by taking control over everything which we can control and accepting everything which we cannot control.

Quote of the Week

“We should always be asking ourselves: “Is this something that is, or is not, in my control?” — Epictetus

What Will You (Not) Do?

We don’t get to decide the majority of our life’s circumstances. 

  • Our births
  • Other people’s feelings about us
  • The genetic deficits of our bodies and minds
  • How people treat us
  • How and when misfortunes befall us
  • Our deaths

We do, however, have control over something greater. Our minds and actions. 

  • We choose how we’ll treat others
  • We choose how we’ll behave under pressure
  • We choose how we’ll handle rejection
  • We choose how we’ll respond to misfortune
  • We choose how we’ll wield power should it ever be given to us
  • We choose how we’ll feel and act in face of trials, pain, and punishment

Most importantly, we choose what we will not do. Only we can set boundaries on our personal behavior. Only we can corral our shadows in the face of trials and temptation. 

  • Will we tell the truth, even when it hurts?
  • Will we remain faithful to our vows, even when it would be more fun not to?
  • Will we pay fairly for the things we desire, even when stealing is easy?
  • Will we uplift and encourage others, even when we feel like failures?
  • Will we respond to abuse with forgiveness, even when revenge feels necessary?

We have tremendous power over ourselves, but we neglect it. Instead, we attempt to control external circumstances and other people through manipulation, coercion, intimidation, and deception. 

The result is anxiety, conflict, and suffering that can be avoided by simply controlling ourselves and accepting the things in life we can’t control. 

Peace comes from release.

Question of the Week

What is something you’ve been holding onto that is actually out your of control? How much better could you feel if you accepted the truth and moved on with your life?

Live On Purpose // Die Without Regrets

Each Wednesday, I publish a 3-5 minute newsletter + video podcast that applies ancient wisdom to modern life.

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