“But you yourself will not wish to be a general or a senator or consul, but a free person: and there is only one way to do this, to not care about the things which are not in our power.” – Epictetus
This is definitely a recurring theme in Epictetus’ works. If you want to be happy you have to focus your energy only on the things that are within your control. The things within our control consist of how we prepare for life’s challenges, how we react to the events of our lives, how we speak of others, and how we carry ourselves through life.
It turns out we all have the ability to control human minds and actions. It just so happens that we can only exert this phenomenal power over one human; ourselves. We control the thoughts our minds think, we control how we act, and we control how we speak. We control the way the world see us but we have no actual control over how others choose to interpret us.
It can be difficult to consider that we control the thoughts our minds think. Especially those of us who have allowed our personalities to become more reactive. But it’s true, we can control our own minds and focus on controlling the story line our own narrator tells as we navigate this life. This takes practice and for some of us will continue to be a life long task but it also gives us something to constantly work on. And that will help us stick to things we can control.
If we focus on making ourselves better, others won’t have time to intrude on our thoughts as much.
virtus fortis vocat