One of the most effective ways to live a simple life is to understand what’s in your control, and what is not.

Knowing what you can control allows you to use your finite energy in the best way possible. The time you spend thinking about, acting on, and attempting to change situations is often a large part of your life. When you spend that energy on things you DO have control over, then you make progress. However, by spending our energy on situations outside of our control, we waste away precious resources.

Spectrum of Control

What makes understanding your control in your life difficult, is that it’s often a spectrum. There are some things that you have almost complete control over, like what you choose to eat. There are other things, like if the sun keeps burning, that you have no control over. It’s the things in them middle of the spectrum that get tricky, and require you to acknowledge to what degree you can productively make a change.

Looking at your situations in life through the lens of how much control you have allows you to prioritize your energy. The more energy you put into things under your control, the more powerful the outcome.

How many people do you know that will spend half of their day worried about the current big political scandal, while at the same time neglecting to eat well? ¬†Or do you know somebody that hates their job, but refuses to change it or try to work out an issue with their company? “Work will always suck” they say.

Our quality of life is highly dependent on us knowing the amount of control we have. By blaming external powers for things that are under our control, we lose personal self-worth. Conversely, by trying to change things we have little control over, we make no progress.

Simplify Through Understanding

If you want to lead a simple, happy life, understand your spectrum of control. As issues come up, actually think about how much control you have.

“Can I do something about this?”

If the answer is yes, then take action if it’s important to you.

If the answer is no, then you need to learn to accept the situation as it is.

4 Comments

  1. Sharon
    October 28, 2017

    Excellent point, simply illustrated. I know many who get very worked up over things outside their control, myself included at times. This is a waste of energy that could best be used within the limits of your control.

    Reply
    • James
      October 28, 2017

      Thanks Sharon! I catch myself in these thought patterns too still. I think the key is to understand the concept of control, and actively be able filter your thoughts/actions through it.

      Reply
  2. Nurj
    November 2, 2017

    This reminds me of William Irvine’s Book, “A Guide to the Good Life”.

    There are things in life in which we have no control, partial control, and complete control.

    If we focus of the things we have full control, then we won’t be easily be affected with the things not within our grasp.

    Reply
    • James
      November 2, 2017

      Love that book! Such a great modern read on Stoic thinking.

      Reply

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