An integral part of Stoic philosophy involves focusing on the things that are within your control, and letting go of the things that are not. Without diving too deep into that, I think our current circumstances are a perfect opportunity to put the concept into practice.
There are a whole slew of things happening right now that are beyond our control. Those things are forcing us all into new and uncomfortable situations. But while we can’t control everything that might be happening to us, we CAN control how we react to it.
This isn’t a burden. It’s an opportunity. And NOT an opportunity to just see how many shows you can binge watch on Netflix, but to snap out of some of those bad habits you don’t even consciously think about anymore. To get shit done. Don’t just think about WHAT you want to do, but WHO you want to be. Take some time to get your head right and your body healthy. Then, when the dust settles, you’ll emerge stronger. Accomplished. Better.
Here’s a good start…
- Perspective and gratitude. Our brains are actually wired to look for dangerous and negative things. Now is the perfect time to flip that on its head and flex some gratitude muscles. You have a home. A family. Access to healthy food.
I’m not leaving the house nearly as much. We might not get a family vacation. But I’ve roughhoused and read books with my kids every single day for two weeks (outside of days I’m at the firehouse). This OPPORTUNITY won’t last forever.
- Focus on what you can control. Figure out what you need to do, then do it. Or develop a plan to do it, then start executing the plan. Don’t waste time or energy on things outside your control.
- “Get to” vs. “Have to.” This fills in gaps along with gratitude and focusing on what you can control. It’s a simple mindset trick. We tell ourselves all the time, “I HAVE to do this…” and “I HAVE to do that…” But often we don’t.
I don’t HAVE to take the kids to school. I GET to take the kids to school. I don’t HAVE to go to work. I GET to go to work. I don’t HAVE to mow the yard. I GET to mow the yard. I don’t HAVE to workout. I GET to workout.
You get the idea. So simple, but such an extremely powerful difference.
- Physical Fitness. Even if you typically workout at a gym that’s been closed, your physical fitness needn’t suffer. You can still workout. You GET to. In fact, now is likely the perfect OPPORTUNITY to focus on some of those aspects you’ve always known you should focus on, but never do. Shoulder or Squat mobility? Push Ups?
At Five Alarm, we’re still running classes (online) and providing members with different workout options based on their equipment availability. But whatever you do, find something you enjoy. Be creative. Make fitness fun. Workout with family. Get online with friends. Challenge each other. Share your workouts. Just keep going!
- Nutrition. Home is the easiest place to CONTROL what you have access to for food. If you don’t have sugar-laden, empty calorie foods lying around then you can’t eat them. Whether you’re a great cook or microwave chef, take this OPPORTUNITY to learn to cook a new meal (or meals). Get family involved, and eat together.
- Sleep. A great day starts the night before. Take a little time at night to plan out the following day. Take 5 minutes to… write down 3 things you’re grateful for, your 3 biggest priorities to accomplish the next day, and to set yourself somewhat of a schedule (don’t forget to include your workout).
Set a bedtime routine that helps relax you and promotes quality sleep. Things like limiting screen time before bed, darkening the room as much as possible, etc. Then shoot for 7+ hours every night.
- Mental/Psychological/Spiritual Health. Stress levels are high. If you don’t already know, take some time to find out what helps you relax and reset. Get closer to family and friends (even if it’s from a distance). Practice gratitude, prayer, meditation, philosophy…
Read something you find fun or interesting¹. Start journaling (there are several great guided journals available)². Learn something new. You don’t have to, you GET to. Laugh. And once in a while, even watch Netflix³.
One last thing. As you move through this, cut yourself some slack. As always, we’re looking for progress, not perfection. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember, we don’t fail when we fall. We fail when we decide not to get back up. We can emerge from this better people than when we went in. And when that day comes, we’ll both be ready. And I’ll hope to see you in the gym soon. I’ll be there. Probably with Burpees.
¹ My top books over the last couple of years…
- Chop Wood, Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf
- Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt
- The More of Less by Joshua Becker
- Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
- The Obstacle is the Way, Ego is the Enemy, and Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
- Essentialism by Greg McKeown
- The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard
³ I hear Ozark is good.