Control and Stoicism
Human nature has it that every human being strives to be rational and to achieve optimal benefits from life. However, due to the dynamism of the world and the ensuing limitation of resources to enhance lives, individuals may not achieve satisfactory outcomes in their lives. Such a result leads to the development of some form of attitude towards the elements surrounding their daily lives. The attitude developed towards life is mainly expressed in the form of emotions. Due to dissatisfaction in life, individuals tend to develop negative emotions. Stoicism provides teachings on the development of fortitude and self-control as a mode of overcoming negative emotions. From the Stoics' point of view, it is thus, possible for us to distinguish between things in our control and those outside our control.
We are all capable of controlling our emotional responses, as well as judgments. Emotional responses and judgment are key elements that enable us to develop an attitude towards things that dominated our lives. Since we can control them, we gain the ability to determine what is within our control and what is without. The ability to distinguish the two sides of our lives is derived from our strong rational nature, which involves our power to engage in critical thinking about our lives and different experiences and subsequently change our point of view towards them. According to Stoics, the power of rational judgment is the sole true power that human beings possess in life. The strength of rational judgment thus, plays a key role in enabling us to draw a clear distinction between things that we can control and those that we cannot. All other weaker powers that we possess and that are weak enough to reduce the ability to make the distinction can be gained or lost in the process of pursuing our objectives in life. These weaker powers are derived from such aspects of life as possessions, relationships, and roles in the society. From the perspective of the Stoics, if such powers are taken away from us, we are still in possession of an intrinsic power that enables us to maintain a strongly rational state of cognizance. The strong intrinsic power possessed by all human beings is an essential feature in enabling them to naturally determine the level of control that they exercise on things that have an impact on their lives and thus, the differentiation between controllable and uncontrollable things.
The things we can control and those that we cannot are determined by our state of mind. An individual's state of mind is determined by intrinsic factors, including their perspective towards the situations facing them at a particular moment. In this view, every human being has the ability to adjust their state of mind and draw a clear line between things that they can control and those that they cannot. For instance, it is the state of the mind that leads an individual into believing that they cannot control death. As a result, calm acceptance of death in an individual's state of mind leads to their passing away without suffering or fear. Such aspects as death are driven by fate and according to Stoic's beliefs; it is only fate that cannot be controlled. By controlling the mind, we are able to develop a perception that distinguishes between things that we can control and those that we cannot control.
As the Stoics believe, we have the ability to distinguish between things we can control and those that we cannot. Taking control, as taught by Stoics, involves asserting one's ability in rational judgment, which is the ration power that is inbuilt by nature. The cultivation of the inner strength to enhance a balanced state of mind leads to a differentiation between the things in our control and the things outside our control.