Just as there are some things that can’t be fixed, there are also some things you can’t control. This fact can be hard to accept for those of us who like to both fix and control things.
You might have a lot of influence, all the autonomy you could wish for, and independence for days—but when it comes to things you can’t control, none of that matters.
I was reading a thread on Quora recently and noticed a recurring theme in what people mentioned as being outside the realm of control.
What other people do.
This is the biggest one. Even if you maintain complete independence for yourself, with no boss and no other accountability, that freedom doesn’t extend beyond yourself. Ultimately, people with free will like to exercise it. You might wish for someone to change, you might even desperately want them to (or feel like you need them to), but their decisions on how to proceed are their own.
What other people think of you.
You can’t control anyone else’s thoughts at all. You may want someone to like you, to think well of you, to earn their favor in some way—but this too is outside your control. Alas!
If you’re seeking approval from someone, never forget that approval is theirs to give or withhold. So since you can’t force someone to think well of you, be attracted to you, or whatever positive sentiment you’d prefer, it might be a good idea to worry about it a lot less.
The rest of the world as it unfolds around you.
The world and environment we live in influences the options available to us. One time a flight I was on had to divert for a medical emergency and I missed an important connection. It’s always the right thing to make sure someone else gets the help they need, of course. But in this case it meant that I had to make a number of unexpected changes that affected the next 10 days of a busy travel schedule.
When feeling frustrated by any of these things, one of the most powerful remedies is to remember the timeless wisdom of “This too shall pass.” No matter the difficulty, it won’t be there forever. The same is true for all the good things in your life: This too shall pass.
Therefore, if you can come to terms with the things you can’t control, or at least stop worrying about them so much—and at the same time, learn to appreciate the good things while there’s still time—perhaps you’ll be much happier.
Chris Guillebeau is the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness of Pursuit, The $100 Startup, and other books. During a lifetime of self-employment, he visited every country in the world (193 in total) before his 35th birthday. Every summer in Portland, Oregon he hosts the World Domination Summit, a gathering of creative, remarkable people. His new book, Born for This, will help you find the work you were meant to do. Connect with Chris on Twitter, on his blog, or at your choice of worldwide airline lounge.
Image courtesy of Stefan Stefancik.