Don’t Like It? Change It!

The great news about this life is that the only constant is change. This is also the bad news about this life, but we can choose to leverage it for our benefit – that is, if you don’t like what is going on, change it.

“But Sare! There are things out of my control!”

Yes. True. The stoics tell us the only thing that is absolutely under our control is what is going on inside our own selves, so we start there. We can absolutely change how we react emotionally to the world around us, and we can absolutely change how we react intellectually to the world around us, and we can use our rational mind in both cases. Because fully half of what is going on in your world is actually your reaction to your world. So that means that at least half of what you’re feeling you can change, if you so choose. Therapy can help here – any kind that seems to work best for you, find a therapist or counselor who fits you well and do it.

And the stoics tell us that the outside world (outside our own selves) is something we can influence, though not entirely control. And so once we’ve started to get a good grip on our own emotional and intellectual response, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and change the world. Will we be able to utterly reform it in one generation? No, of course not. Will it change at all in the direction we prefer if we do absolutely nothing? Pretty much guaranteed that it won’t.

But it is actually important to do it in that order. Start fixing our own perspective and reaction first, then everything else second – which might seem counterintuitive. But think of it from a purely logical viewpoint for a moment: if one thing we have total control over, and the other thing we have only partial control over… and they both contribute to a problem… 

Fix the thing you have total control over, first.

The fact that doing so will open up new perspectives and avenues for action out in the wider world, is just gravy at that point, because you’ve already made the biggest impact you can: with yourself.

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