Letting go of control

I’m relatively new to the stoicism game but was pleasantly surprised to find that in action, my life is already better.

I woke up to this morning to six emails, in Spanish, thanking me for my enrollment in six different courses from the website Udemy. Bizarre, as I haven’t purchased anything from Udemy. On top of that, although I can speak, read, and understand Spanish, my language preferences remain in English on that website. So, I do what any responsible adult would do, head over to Udemy’s website and attempt to log in. My password doesn’t work. So I reset my password, continue to log in, and realize “I” have purchased several courses in Spanish in a subject matter that I’ve never touched. I head over to my “spending”account and see that I have a little over $300 dollars in purchases to Udemy with a whopping $23.27 left to spend for the next couple weeks. Well, that sucks…

You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

A pillar of Stoicism is recognizing what is in our control and what is not. With that in mind, I sipped on my overly sweet coffee, stared at my bank account and reminded myself of what I tell my coworkers when they’re upset over something that has already happened.

If a problem can be solved, What reason is there to be upset? If there is no possible solution, What use is there in being sad?

Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva

I sit here reminding myself, “Memento Mori.” I could die at any moment and leave this world. Is this instance worth my emotional well being? Not at all. Am I happy this happened? Not in the slightest, but I can’t control it as it has already happened. So I’ll do what I can control: File claims, provide information, reset passwords, make said passwords more secure, check other accounts for potentially fraudulent activity, and go about my day. I still draw breath, and because of that, I can move forward.

The dichotomy of life shows up strongly here. Don’t be a victim to the things you can’t control, but you also cannot sit idly by and say “oh well.” Take action on what you can control and avoid spending emotional capital on those things you cannot control.

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