In the Pillars of Utah Lacrosse, we learn to practice ‘Humility’. Today I want to talk about humility in the context of “not stressing over things outside of your control”. Suffering occurs when we resist reality. Katie Byron, in “Loving What Is”, tells us that there are only three different places in which you can focus your attention,
We need to pray for the humility to discern the difference. To focus our attention on what’s within our control and ignore the rest. It’s too easy to be swept into the feeling that we are the center of the universe. To keep you grounded, consider reciting the “The Serenity Prayer” throughout the day,
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”
We must tattoo this to the front of our minds! Ryan Holiday, In “The Daily Stoic”, write that the Serenity Prayer might as well have been the bedrock of stoic philosophy:
“The single most important practice in Stoic philosophy is differentiating between what we can change and what we can’t. What we have influence over and what we do not. A flight is delayed because of weather—no amount of yelling at an airline representative will end a storm. No amount of wishing will make you taller or shorter or born in a different country. No matter how hard you try, you can’t make someone like you. And on top of that, time spent hurling yourself at these immovable objects is time not spent on the things we can change.
The recovery community practices something called the Serenity Prayer: ‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ Addicts cannot change the abuse suffered in childhood. They cannot undo the choices they have made or the hurt they have caused. But they can change the future—through the power they have in the present moment. As Epictetus said, they can control the choices they make right now.
The same is true for us today. If we can focus on making clear what parts of our day are within our control and what parts are not, we will not only be happier, we will have a distinct advantage over other people who fail to realize they are fighting an unwinnable battle.”
You could replace the word ‘serenity’ with ‘humility’. We need to continue to remind ourselves that we’re practicing arrogance when we argue with reality. It’s a recipe for disaster. Instead, we need to practice the Stoic art of Amor Fati (loving one’s Fate). Holiday writes,
“ the most practiced Stoics take it a step further. Instead of simply accepting what happens, they urge us to actually enjoy what has happened—whatever it is. Nietzsche, many centuries later, coined the perfect expression to capture this idea: amor fati (a love of fate). It’s not just accepting, it’s loving everything that happens. To wish for what has happened to happen is a clever way to avoid disappointment because nothing is contrary to your desires. But to actually feel gratitude for what happens? To love it? That’s a recipe for happiness and joy.”
So don’t squander your energy thinking about how someone or something should be different than what it is. Don’t just accept it. Love it!
Are you trying to control things outside of you? What are they?
You are the author of your life. How can you re-script these things outside your control?
What are things within you that you could try to change instead?