I’ve become an avid reader of the The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday over the past year. Earlier this month while reading one of the passages, I was struck by how important three of the guiding principles are to living a good life. The principles are: control your perceptions, direct your actions properly, and willingly accept what’s outside your control.
“All you need are these: certainty of judgment in the present moment; action for the common good in the present moment; and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way.” Marcus Aurelius
1. Control your perceptions
One of the few things we can control is our thoughts and perceptions. Do we allow negative self-talk to beat us down and keep us from achieving what we want? When someone pisses us off are we reactive and attack them back? No matter what happens to us during the day, it is our perception of the event that is under our control. If we allow others to dictate our moods it is much easier to get angry and upset. While there are times when we need to defend ourselves, most of the time it is not worth the hassle. When someone talks bad about you or trashes your work, it is their insecurities that trigger their statements, not you. I find it is best to think of them as a child and realize we all struggle with our own issues and insecurities.
2. Direct your actions properly
Directing our actions properly is also within our control. Do you look at Facebook and Instagram all day or do you put in the hard work to better yourself? Are you present when you are with family and friends or always on your phone? Do you give your time to help others? Are you taking the right steps to achieve your goals? These actions can be difficult for all of us at times, but if you are trying to improve your life, they are important.
Since I quit my job, one of the things I do every day is write. It might only be a couple of 100 words but I make a point to put pen to paper. This practice is beneficial for getting your ideas on paper and working through issues you may be dealing with. I am also in the process of looking into to starting a business. Some days I do not want to do the research or make calls, but I force myself to take these actions. If I want to be in a different place one year from now, I remind myself that I must take the proper actions today.
3. Willingly accept what’s outside your control
Our thoughts and our actions are all we control. We must willingly accept this and move on. We do not control other’s responses to our work. No matter what we do in life, some people will hate it, some will love it, and some won’t care. We can not worry about all of the negative news out there or the gossip going on in our social and professional circles. This information will do nothing to move us forward in life. In fact, they are parasitic. Turn off the news and the friends or co-workers who constantly talk about others. We cannot worry about these petty issues. We must keep pushing forward, doing our work and eventually what we want will all come together.