Choosing to Control What We Can

3 Exercises & Lessons From Epictetus

1. Remember What’s In Your Control

Epictetus book, The Enchridion begins with one of the most important principles of Stoicism. The importance of distinguishing things that are under our control and things that are not. It is a reminder not to get angry and upset by things which we cannot control or change, such as other people and external events and to only focus on what we can change, ourselves and our behaviour. It’s a powerful statement, that all of our actions and behaviours are in our control.

2. Set the Standard

The best leaders rarely talk how things should to be done, as their actions speak for themselves. Think of someone you admired and how many of the lessons came indirectly from the choices that they’ve made and the example they have set. Similarly, we need to be focused on how we are actually living and what choices we are making. That’s where our time and energy will be best spent.

3. Prescribe Yourself a Character

Epictetus understood how much we act out of habit and how we tend to think that our ways of doing things are set in stone. He pushed his students to set some principles and standards they need to follow and not deviate as much as possible. This is certainly not easy by any stretch but with small steps, each day reminding us what direction we’d like to go to, we can get closer to the character we wish to have.

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