In her page-a-day book Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much, the writer Anne Willson Schaef makes a distinction that the Stoics would have certainly agreed with—there is a difference, she writes, between trying to control everything in your life and taking charge of your life.
“Trying to control our lives puts us in a position of failure before we start,” Anne writes, “and causes endless, unnecessary pain and suffering. Taking charge of our lives means owning our lives and having a respond-ability to our lives.”
‘Respond-ability’ is a great word, and one we should add to our vocabulary today. The same goes with the distinction between taking charge and taking control.
As the Stoics tried to teach us, only a fool thinks they can control fortune or prevent bad things from occurring through worry or endless work. Only a tyrant thinks they can determine everything other people do and say. A wise person, on the other hand, takes responsibility for themselves and says, “I might not be in control of what happens to me in life, but I am in charge of how I respond to it.” A wise person is both responsible and respond-able.
And that’s exactly what we are going to focus on today.