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A perturbed mind

“Keep this thought at the ready at daybreak, and through the day and night—there is only one path to happiness, and that is in giving up all outside of your sphere of choice, regarding nothing else as your possession, surrendering all else to God and Fortune.” —EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 4.4.39

External events over the last few days have disturbed my mind, my peace. Realizing that I only control my own choices comes with it a vulnerable feeling–a sense that others can do unto me things that I don’t want them to do. The thoughts come fast and furious–What if Person A does Act B? How will I survive? How can I cope with the devastation? Even writing about it brings a feeling of dread and wanting to reject those people that seem to have the power to hurt me by their actions, their thoughts, their choices.

My perturbed mind has difficulty focusing, at once wanting to distract from what it fears, and at the same time unable to turn away. ‘Surrendering all else to God and Fortune’ seems impossible but is the heart of the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

I can only change my choices, my mind, how I interpret people and event around me. I can’t change others, their actions, their choices. Try as I might, regardless of how much I want to. My first task is to see to my own serenity and peace of mind so that I can be in a position to influence, to look ahead, and take action with people to sway and persuade them about living and choosing differently.

I reaffirm my commitment to serenity, to a placid mind. To following Epictetus’s advice to give up all that is outside my sphere of choice.

January 12, 2017

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