You can control very little, philosophers say.
Ever wondered what ‘very little’ means?
But first, what is control? And why is it important?
Control, according to the dictionary, is the power to influence or direct other people’s behavior or a course of events. It stems from hunger in human beings.
Animal hunger is purely physical — food and sex. But human hunger is physical and psychological. The prefrontal cortex enables the species to imagine. In Business Sutra, Devdutt Pattanaik explains the correlation between imagination and control.
Every animal looks at the world differently but the human gaze is especially different because the reality of nature is being constantly compared and contrasted with imaginary reality inside the head. We can control the subjective world in our head but not the objective one outside. This leads to conflict, as the imagination seeks a world that is more controllable, hence delightful…
We struggle to control the human mind: our mind as well as the mind of those around us. Control makes us feel powerful, lack of control makes us feel powerless.
You lust for the feeling of power. But you cannot control the world, and that makes you feel upset. Should you continue feeling upset? Should you try to cover the streets with a carpet? Or would you rather wear slippers to protect your feet?
The only element you can control is your mind.
“What? Not even my own body?”
You can fall sick or hurt yourself. You can land in jail or in a hospital. You can never have complete control over what happens to your body. But you control how you respond what happens to you, how you think about an event.
Belief shapes behavior, Devdutt Pattanaik wrote, and behavior shapes business. A friend of mine added an element to the flowchart: experience.
Experience shapes belief. The more intense your experience, the stronger your belief. The stronger your belief, the more predictable your action — positive or negative.
By controlling your mind, you can control your perceptions, actions and willpower. But most people let their minds run helter-skelter and try to control everything else instead. “What can I do? I just can’t control my mind,” they say. In the process, they lose control of the only element which is in their control.
Don’t rush to control your surroundings. But don’t turn into a passive follower either. Focus on controlling your mind. Question your beliefs. Build experience to shape them, which, in turn, will shape your behavior.
Reflect on what you do, on your experiences. You may have had a rough childhood, adolescence or marriage. But none of those events define you. How you view yourself, and the actions you take now, do.
Open your mind. Accept that you control what happens in it. You cannot control your surroundings, but can control how you perceive them. You cannot control events, but can control how you respond to them. Let go of the “this-is-how-things-should-be” syndrome. Start seeing the world for what it is. Be fluid, like water. You’ll fill your mind with wonder and curiosity. You’ll experience the true beauty of life.