❝The more we value things outside our control, the less control we have.❞ -Epictetus
You’re frustrated. You lose it and start yelling as your blood pressure climbs. Later on in the day, you feel a little bit embarrassed. You realized that you lost your cool over something that was stupid to lose your cool over.
Does it sound familiar? Have you ever gotten mad at something that you realized later you shouldn't have gotten mad about? If you're anything like me, you have.
Walking through the skyways on our way to lunch, my friend Mark tells me about Curtis’s promotion. I don't feel happy for Curtis. I can't help it; I feel some weird mix of jealousy and anger. Why does Curtis deserve a promotion? I'm just as qualified as he is. Where's my promotion?
Naturally, I changed the subject to talk about how the world is unfair to me. It was easy to gossip about Curtis. Gossip is easy. But halfway through the conversation, I realize that gossip is easy because it's cheap.
Later on in the day, it occurs to me that I was a complete ass. I turned what could have been a great lunch with one of my closest friends into a complaining session. I got angry and envious. And for what? Curtis' promotion doesn't impact me. Curtis and I don’t even work for the same company. Curtis’ career is outside of my control; I can't do anything about it, and wouldn’t want to if I could. Yet here I am, wasting my time and energy on things that are both outside of my control and things that don't matter (not in any way that impacts my well-being anyway).
What does matter is my relationship with Mark. Choosing to have a pleasant conversation with Mark over lunch was in my control, but instead, I chose to focus on the wrong things.
I don't believe I'm unique. It's easy to worry about things that don't matter. It’s common to get upset over something over which we have no control. Even though getting clear about things that matter to us in the things that we can control can be difficult, it's worth it.