“You should lay hold, once and for all, upon a single norm to live by, and should regulate your whole life according to this norm.” – Seneca
If we were going to set one single rule to live the rest of our lives by, one that would have the greatest impact on our lives, and give us the best opportunity to become the best people we can become without having to add to it, that rule would be: Control the things you can control.
In this life we have control over very few things. We control our actions, our thoughts, our emotions, our words, and our reactions to the world around us. That is it.
Our actions, the things we do, how we interact with the world. This is probably our biggest outside influence, people will judge us most by our actions. We are the product of the little things we choose to do day in day out, our habits are who we are.
Our thoughts are how we choose to interpret the world around us. While these are likely the most private things we have control over, in a lot of ways our thoughts are the things that motivate our words and actions. If we don’t control these we will end up saying and doing things we don’t mean to say and do.
Our emotions are directly linked to our thoughts but they are the part of us, who we are, that is intertwined with our words and actions. They are the parts of our words that betray our thoughts, and work themselves into our actions. If we don’t control our emotions, they can move into our subconscious and control us. If we think we can’t control our emotions, they already have.
Our words, the things we choose to say are a direct reflection of our thoughts. The things we choose to share with the people around us say a lot about what they can expect of us and what we are thinking about in any given situation. We should take the time to control our words by choosing to not say anything until we’ve had time to roll it around in our heads for awhile.
The way we choose to react to the world around us tells people everything they need to know about who we are. If we are cool, calm, collected, and pleasant when everything is going our way but lose our minds when things don’t go our way, people know who we really are.
These are the things we get to control, this is a pretty comprehensive list. Everything not on this list is outside of our control and can be ignored by us for the most part. Following this rule will make us into the people we want to be, whoever that might be.
virtus fortis vocat