What Can You Control?

Sometimes we feel the need to be in control of a situation. Often, we are confident in our own abilities, and doubtful in others’.  But how much control do we actually have?

We have the most control over ourselves. I can decide what time I go to bed, what food I eat, where I live, and the people I choose to surround myself with.

Controlling others is more difficult, but it can still be done. Through persuasiveness, persistence, or even intimidation, we can exert some level of control over our family, friends, neighbors, or community.

There are people who need to feel that they are in control, of themselves or situations around them. It can produce feelings of anxiety or discomfort when people feel they, or things around them, are out of control.

For example, this is one of the primary reasons that people love automobiles. You can leave whenever you want, and go wherever you want. You have the ultimate choice of your entire environment: the music on the radio, the temperature, windows up or down, how fast you go. Even people who don’t like to drive enjoy the flexibility driving affords them.

But how much control do we really have? To return to the car analogy, drivers are at the mercy of a number of factors beyond their control, like traffic congestion, poor road conditions, pedestrians, tolls, and more. Other drivers on the road might cause an accident or a traffic jam, on in general drive unsafely.

Moreover, the flexibility gained by driving creates restrictions in other regards. Cars can be very expensive, with gas, insurance, repairs, parking, tolls, and taxes, in addition to the large cost of the vehicle itself. The loss of financial flexibility when owning a car is considerable. Most people are willing to accept that trade-off, but it is there regardless.

In general, we are often at the mercy of other people, or even of unpredictable events or situations.

Do you feel the need to be in control? What can you control?

Related questions: How much of our thoughts are our own? Where does authority come from? How has luck shaped your life? Free-will or predestination?

How Do You Perform Self-Care?

Self-care is becoming more popular, but there are still many people who do not know what self-care means. Or how to do it.

In order to keep your car functioning, you have to take it to the shop every so often. Your body and mind are no different. Routine maintenance is necessary to keep yourself working well. You can’t help others, like friends or family members, if you don’t take care of yourself.

For your body, you might get regular massages. Or go to the gym to work out. Maybe you run, or bike, or rock climb. Self-care can even be as simple as going to a primary care physician for an annual check-up.

To keep your mind working well, some people meditate. Others might see a therapist regularly. You might have a pet that calms you down, or take an occasional day off to sit on the couch and read a book.

There are many different ways to improve your physical or mental health. Are there any in particular that you do? Are there some you wish you, or a family member, would do on a regular basis? Does your job offer any self-care benefits? How do you perform self-care?

Related questions: What does it mean to be healthy? Could everyone benefit from therapy? What makes you the happiest? Shower or bath?

How Do You Cheer Yourself Up?

Sometimes the world can be a depressing place. When despair threatens to overcome you, you might need to cheer yourself up.

Whether the problems are global (like climate change) or personal (like a breakup), life can be sad. We won’t be happy all the time, nor do we necessarily want to be.

Despite whatever hardships you may be going through, sometimes is necessary to be in social situations. You may need to put on a smile for the public no matter what you may feel in private.

Also, there are times when you need to be hopeful when you feel despondent. In order to keep motivated despite long odds or a difficult situation, hope can be crucial.

Other times, you may just feel it is necessary to move past whatever troubles you have. You may need to just get on with your life.

In that situation, how do you manage it? Simple denial of your feelings probably isn’t helpful. How can you accept defeat, or loss, or sadness, and learn to be happy once again? How do you cheer yourself up?

Related questions: How can we turn sadness into constructive action? What makes you the happiest? Why do we put up with unhappiness? Is happiness the most important purpose in life? Optimistic or pessimistic?

What Do You Believe?

Knowing what you believe is an essential part of becoming a fully-realized person. It is also helpful in a number of different ways.

Knowing your beliefs can:
  • Make you more confident

More than anything else, perhaps, your beliefs help define who you are. The more you know your beliefs, the more you know yourself, and the more confident you will be.

  • Keep you from being fooled

If someone tries to provide you with misleading or manipulative information, knowing your own thoughts is crucial. In other words, they can help you navigate difficult waters.

  • Help you make decisions

Companies often have a “mission statement” that provides guidance when there is a decision to be made. Personal beliefs can serve the same purpose. For instance, does an action get you closer to your ultimate goal? Does a decision match your values?

  •  Be a conversation starter

If you find yourself talking to a stranger and you don’t know what to say, falling back on what you believe is a good way to start. Talking about something you believe in will provide a topic to build a discussion around. Similarly, it can also be useful in determining how to respond to a conversation someone else starts.

  • Make fulfilling friendships

If you know what you think and care about, you can surround yourself with people who have beliefs that are similar, or complementary, to your own. Those friendships are likely to resonate more significantly.

  • Help you choose a meaningful career

Similar to finding friendship, the key to a fulfilling career can be an alignment of your own beliefs with a company culture or goals.

Can you think of other ways beliefs are important?

Easier said than done

Of course, talking or thinking about your beliefs is quite different from actually knowing what they are. In attempting to discover what you believe, you may even find that you question things that you have believed for a very long time. That can be very disconcerting.

Do you know what is important to you? What you are passionate about, and what is central to who you are as a person? What do you believe?

Related questions: What beliefs do you have that might be wrong? How can we encourage meaningful conversation? What is important? How do you know who to trust?