I found this post on one of my secret blogs, where I have posted like five posts before I gave up (wow, this blog is doing really well in comparison!) I wrote it about a year and a half ago and I thought it was still very applicable. It is one of the rules I live my life by and I guess this was written on the moment I learned about this idea, so I wanted to share it with you here as well!
I have been reading this book, written by Stephen Covey. I started a week ago and I am almost finished, but already I have integrated some of his stuff into my life. He became very famous for these 7 habits he created, that would help transform your life. I will maybe share more of this brilliant man in the future, but for now I wanted to focus on one particular thing.
A lot of people spend a lot of energy on a lot of things. Can you hear yourself or people around you say the following?
“God, the weather is terrible today. I annoys me so much when all this rain is coming down on me and I have to redo my hair when I get to work… Life sucks!?”
“The people in our government don’t know what they are doing. They are screwing everyone by increasing the taxes.”
“I am so bugged by the way my boss talks to me. Her voice is so high-pitched and every time she speaks I get goosebumps!”
These are just a few examples of things that people could say, when they are focused on the wrong circle. What circle, you might ask? Well, I’ll tell you.
According to Covey, you have two circles. The circle of concern consists of things that have an effect on you, that concern you, but that you cannot influence. Examples: the weather, other people, the government, etc. The second circle is the circle of influence, which, as you may have guessed, you can influence! This can include your life, your relationships, your job, your choices. See the picture below.
So after reading this, I started thinking about it. Two circles, one I can control, one I can’t. This sounds interesting. So that means that I don’t have to worry about or stress over the things I cannot control? Immediately I felt lighter. When I cycled through the rain the next day, people around me were complaining, and I just didn’t care. I did not want to waste energy on this thing that I obviously had no control over. It gave me this new kind of peace and already I am happy I have learned this, and, more importantly, learned to apply this.
Yesterday I had some friends over and I noticed that I was applying this theory in my conversations with them. One of my friends told me she was really trying to help another friend and it bugged her that she wouldn’t listen to her. I told her: “You can let her know how you feel and what would be the consequences if she continues her behavior, but that is all you can do. The rest is up to her and is out of your hands.” Now I am already usually a great advice giver, but this was a highlight, even for me. She agreed with me and I saw her relax a little bit with this realization. It was simply not her responsibility to change her friend’s behavior.
But let’s focus on the circle of influence as well. Because if you cannot stress about your friends’ behavior, the weather or the government, what can you stress about? Well, I am inclined to say, don’t stress at all. You are in charge of your own life. So there are always options and it is up to you to pick the right one. If you encounter something displeasing, ask yourself the following: Is this something I can change, something I have control over, or is it not? If you don’t have any influence, if it is only in you circle of concern, just let it go. It won’t help to stress, so don’t. But if it is something you can change, there are still two options. Either change it, or accept it and stop stressing. It’s actually really simple!
Now I have wondered why Covey made this distinction using circles, but when I tried to put it another way, I realized why. Just saying: there are some things you can influence, and some things you cannot influence, just sounds to damn passive. You know there are things you don’t have control over, but that doesn’t mean you cannot stress about them. Well, it does. It is a choice to stress over these things. You can cycle through the pouring rain and be annoyed the whole time. You can even be annoyed when you finally arrive at your destination and even for the rest of the day. But you can also try to let it go, to not be upset by things you cannot change. Trust me, it will save you tons of energy. And you can spend that energy thinking about things you can control.
Imagine the productivity.
Imagine the happiness…