“Keep this thought at the ready at daybreak, and through the day and night — there is only one path to happiness, and that is in giving up all outside of your sphere of choice, regarding nothing else as your possession, surrendering all else to God and Fortune.”EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 4.4.39
Ryan Holiday does a really good job of expanding on the quote above, and really just summarizing in a beautiful way some of the gentle stoic reminders you can give yourself throughout the day. I won’t bother repeating all of it here, since I wouldn’t do it justice and it’s all in his book The Daily Stoic anyway. If you haven’t picked it up yet, I highly encourage it. (This site is inspired greatly by that book and my meditations on it throughout the year.)
Today’s wisdom is all about surrender, isn’t it? It’s about reminding yourself about how little we truly own, and accepting that. It’s about understanding that we’re not even the director of our own little universe! (Side note: it’s interesting to me that surrender is a common truth in almost all world religions.)
We have to kind of give up the idea of trying to set our direction in life, and accept that all we can really do is be careful and measured in our reactions. By surrendering to that idea, surrendering to life and the fact that we aren’t running the show, at all — that’s what unlocks happiness. We have to surrender to be happy.
It feels great, even just saying it out loud. “Surrender to the fact that you’re not in control.” Try it for five minutes and see how much happier you feel! The majority of our anxiety and stress comes from trying to control things that we can’t. It’s like trying to fill a glass with seawater in the middle of a hurricane — fruitless and pointless, and a little silly.
We don’t control much. Accept that, and surrender to it, and watch your happiness blossom.