Control ➶

Oliver Burkeman, writing in his last column for The Guardian:

The future will never provide the reassurance you seek from it. As the ancient Greek and Roman Stoics understood, much of our suffering arises from attempting to control what is not in our control. And the main thing we try but fail to control — the seasoned worriers among us, anyway – is the future. We want to know, from our vantage point in the present, that things will be OK later on. But we never can. (This is why it’s wrong to say we live in especially uncertain times. The future is always uncertain; it’s just that we’re currently very aware of it.)

It’s freeing to grasp that no amount of fretting will ever alter this truth. It’s still useful to make plans. But do that with the awareness that a plan is only ever a present-moment statement of intent, not a lasso thrown around the future to bring it under control. The spiritual teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti said his secret was simple: “I don’t mind what happens.” That needn’t mean not trying to make life better, for yourself or others. It just means not living each day anxiously braced to see if things work out as you hoped.

Found after reading List one task, do it, cross it out, which is similar to a pilot’s pre-flight checklist:

  1. Think of something it would be worthwhile to do right now, without any expectation that you know what might be “best”. (And don’t forget that it could be “take a nap”!)
  2. Write it down.
  3. Do that thing.
  4. Cross it out.
  5. Go back to 1., writing the next thing underneath the one you just crossed out. Repeat (forever).

✶ Sunday, 11 June 2023

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