Understanding Control and Perspective

It helps a lot if we understand two principles: control and perspective.

First, there are some things we can control and other things we can’t control.

When we get upset, it’s often because we mistake one kind of thing for the other.

Are you stuck in traffic? Frustrated? Getting frustrated has no effect on the traffic. You won’t get where you’re going any faster. All you’ll do is give yourself a stomach ache. Traffic is one of the things you can’t control.

Reframe the situation: you’re not “stuck.” Instead, you’re getting extra time to plan your day or listen to music. The traffic is only there to give you practice in being patient.

Are you stuck in life? Not where you want to be? Not who you want to be? There are things you can’t do about it, but there’s a lot you can do. You can choose your goal, then do what’s needed and possible to achieve it.

You can also choose your attitude: Are obstacles a barrier to stop you — or are they a challenge for you to overcome? You can control how you look at them.

And that leads to the second principle: perspective.

We had an election yesterday in the United States, and people on both sides are getting stomach aches about it. They shouldn’t.

Perspective dictates that when things are close to us, they look bigger than they really are. Applied to life, most things that happen are neither as good nor as bad as they seem at the moment they occur.

You should do what you can do to improve things. But you should also trust that the universe will unfold as it should.


Check out my new book, Why Sane People Believe Crazy Things: How Belief Can Help or Hurt Social Peace.

About N.S. Palmer

N.S. Palmer is an American mathematician.
This entry was posted in Philosophy, Psychology, Society and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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