What Can You Control?

What Can I Control

Stress is Mostly Self-Created

Happiness Principle** #7 says,

Choose to Respond: What happens is going to happen, regardless. Accept constant, discontinuous change as reality and instead of reacting, respond with curiosity.

Wow, when I created these principles, I had no idea how useful they’d be 17 years later during a pandemic! Let’s take a moment to go back to basics: what you experience in life is about 10% what happens and 90% how you interpret it, give it meaning, and choose–or not–to dance with it.

I get that there is real pain out there — people whose jobs have dissolved, loved ones separated, entire industries imploding, and of course the illness and death caused by the virus.

Beyond that, let’s notice that most of the stress and “suffering” comes from arguing with what’s real and, more to my point, related to our desire or attempts to control things that are beyond our control.

We can’t change the mechanics of viral transmission. We can’t change that the media is focused on bringing us all the bad news with trumpets and glitter. We can’t change the climate or politics or make everyone around us comply with our narrative on mask-wearing.

The truth is (excuse my language) NO ONE KNOWS WTF IS HAPPENING and every time you insist otherwise you are creating your own stress.

You can’t MAKE anything happen. All that’s available to you is to ask, “what CAN I do?” and spend your time there.

Choose To Respond

Take a closer look at the opening graphic. You cannot control other people, so glaring at them or arguing with or shaming them in social media will only create frustration. Better options:

1.    CHOOSE to give your attention and energy to what you CAN do

2.    Get enough sleep

3.    Move your body (because it keeps your brain healthy and stress under control).

4.    Make responsible food choices. And if that means daily chocolate, enjoy the hell out of it.

5.    If you can only find two hours of productive work time, do what you can in those two hours.

6.    When your kids (or parents or SO) make you consider murder, hug them and remember they have as little control over you as you do over them. So, love them

7.    Get fresh air, even if it’s only from the one window in your tiny flat.

8.    Say Thank You for everything you do have.

9.    When you have a really sucky day, ask, “what did I learn today?”

10. Pause regularly to Breathe on Purpose and notice that when you pause and center, everything else falls away for at least that moment.

11. Finally, trust yourself. Who knows what will happen tomorrow, or next week, or next year? YOU CANNOT CONTROL THAT. Trust yourself to do what you need to do right now to make it through the next moment, then the next one, and the one after that.

Because whatever’s going to happen is going to happen whether you allow it or you argue with it, and the former choice makes it a lot easier to dance with what shows up.

Click above or here to download a framable pdf of all 13 Principles to post on your fridge or home/work office as a reminder!