A few weeks ago, I read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. It was a book that was recommended to me by many, that I had been meaning to read for a long time.
I was on vacation with my family for two weeks, and thought that it would be a fitting book to read, as this was the first real break I have had from work in a while.
For those who don’t know, Meditations is considered by many to be the quintessential book of the philosophy of stoicism. It is a relatively easy book to read, and very accessible to people not deep inside academic philosophy circles.
Although there are many profound pieces of wisdom in this book, one piece of wisdom that stuck out to me the most was the following:
Focus only on what you can control.
Often times, the anxiety and unhappiness that people experience comes from focusing on things that they can not control. For example, things that other people say or do, or the outcome of external situations.
Dwelling on these things that are out of your control is a waste of time.
Instead, it is better to focus on things that you can control, namely, your own thoughts, and how you interpret the world around you.
It is your thoughts and opinions that make a situation good or bad, not the situation itself being inherently good or bad.