Control, and How to Know the Difference

“Some things are in our control, while others are not. We control our opinion, choice, desire, aversion, and, in a word, everything of our own doing. We don’t control our body, property, reputation, position, and, in a word, everything not of our own doing. Even more, the things in our control are by nature free, unhindered, and unobstructed, while those not in our control are weak, slavish, can be hindered, and are not our own.”


One of the three core disciplines of stoicism is accepting that some things are outside of your control. But how will you know which things are controllable and which things aren’t? How can you tell the difference? That’s the focus of today’s quote in The Daily Stoic.

What’s outside of your control? Everything that you don’t consciously choose to do. And what is within your control? “Everything of [your] own doing,” as Epictetus states above. Pretty straightforward, right? Well, maybe a bit more explanation is needed…

It’s all about your reasoned choice, and how you choose to respond to the day’s events. You may not get to decide what happens to you today, but you can choose how you respond. That is what it means to have control, and that’s how you tell the difference. “Look inward” as author Ryan Holiday points out, and then you’ll be looking in the right direction.

Now you know! And knowing is half the battle. (Want more specifics about what’s in your control and what’s not? Learn about your sphere of control.)

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