Thursday, 5 June 2014
2. Worry only about the things that are in your control, the things that can be influenced and changed by your actions, not about the things that are beyond your capacity to direct or alter. This rule summarizes several important features of ancient Stoic wisdom — features that remain powerfully suggestive for modern times. Most notably the belief in an ultimately rational order operating in the universe reflecting a benign providence that ensures proper outcomes in life. Thinkers such as Epictetus did not simply prescribe “faith” as an abstract philosophical principle; they offered a concrete strategy based on intellectual and spiritual discipline. The key to resisting the hardship and discord that intrude upon every human life, is to cultivate a certain attitude toward adversity based on the critical distinction between those things we are able to control versus those which are beyond our capacity to manage. The misguided investor may not be able to recover his fortune but he can resist the tendency to engage in self-torment. The victims of a natural disaster, a major illness or an accident may not be able to recover and live their lives the way they used to, but they too can save themselves the self-torment. In other words, while we cannot control all of the outcomes we seek in life, we certainly can control our responses to these outcomes and herein lies our potential for a life that is both happy and fulfilled.