The Issue of Control

We just installed two TVs at my office. They pipe in Fox News most of the day (outside of the occasional switch up to HGTV or Food Network – our plan doesn’t include ESPN).

Just walking by the TVs, I’ve watched more news than I have in the past 12 months combined.

I’m not sure I like it. I might be more well informed, but Im starting to get frothy about issues and events that I have no control over.

I’m worrying more about things I can’t control. And worry is an exhausting yet useless activity.

Over the past few years, I’ve tried very hard to ferret out worry in my life. If I’m finding myself stressed over something – health, money, being a parent, my job – I’m trying to take a pause and drill down to the thing that’s causing my consternation.

Then I ask myself this question: “What, Brett, can you personally do about this thing that’s giving you an ulcer?”

If I have a good answer for that, I set my sights on how to solve the problem.

If my answer is some equivalent of, “Self, there’s not a dang thing you can do about it,” then I try to release the thing and focus on what I actually have some control over.

What I’ve discovered is that I “worry” less about things I have control over and more about things I have no control over.

Consequently, I spend energy uselessly, wasting it on events, people, and circumstances that I have no control over while avoiding spending my energy wisely on making the difficult decisions to tackle disciplines, habits, conversations, and commitments that I do have control over.

I’m getting better. Worry happens involuntarily, but it takes practice to identify the worry and sift through the issues to identify what we can act on and what we must set aside as an item we lack any control over.

Living Simply in the Suburbs means we must vehemently protect our limited amount of energy. Worry and stress over stuff we can’t control hampers our ability to take strides in areas we can truly influence.

My challenge to you

Identify the one thing that has caused you the most stress and worry. Pull out the pieces of that thing that you have some influence over by taking your own personal action and do your best to set the rest aside. Spend time on the pieces you can control. One week. Give it a shot.


Currently reading: Take the Stairs, by Rory Vaden 

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