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50 Things You Can Control Right Now

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“Why worry about things you can’t control when you can keep yourself busy controlling the things that depend on you?” ~Unknown

CNN reports that psychic businesses are thriving in this challenging economy, and the clientele has expanded to include more business professionals who are worried about their financial future.

According to Columbia Business School’s Professor Gita Johar, who studies consumer behavior, the greatest motivation for visiting a psychic is to feel a sense of control.

Sure, there are lots of things we can’t control: businesses may fold, stocks may plummet, relationships may end—the list is infinite, really. But wouldn’t we be far more effective if we focused on all things we can control instead; if we stopped worrying about the indefinite and started benefiting from the guaranteed?

Right now, you can control:

1. How many times you smile today.
2. How much effort you exert at work.
3. Your level of honesty.
4. How well you prepare.
5. How you act on your feelings.
6. How often you say “thank you.”
7. When you pull out your wallet for luxuries.
8. Whether or not you give someone the benefit of the doubt.
9. How you interpret situations.
10. Whether or not you compete with people around you.
11. How often you notice and appreciate small acts of kindness.
12. Whether you listen or wait to talk.
13. When you walk away from a conversation.
14. How nice you are to yourself in your head.
15. Whether you think positive or negative thoughts.
16. Whether or not you form expectations of people.
17. The type of food you eat.
18. When you answer someone’s question—or email or call.
19. How much time you spend worrying.
20. How many new things you try.
21. How much exercise you get.
22. How many times you swear in traffic.
23. Whether or not you plan for the weather.
24. How much time you spend trying to convince people you’re right.
25. How often you think about your past.
26. How many negative articles you read.
27. The attention you give to your loved ones when you see them.
28. How much you enjoy the things you have right now.
29. Whether or not you communicate something that’s on your mind.
30. How clean or uncluttered you keep your space.
31. What books you read.
32. How well you network at social events.
33. How deeply you breathe when you experience stress.
34. How many times you admit you don’t know something—and then learn something new.
35. How often you use your influence to help people instead of focusing on building your influence.
36. When you ask for help.
37. Which commitments you keep and cancel.
38. How many risks you take.
39. How creative/innovative you are in your thinking.
40. How clear you are when you explain your thoughts.
41. Whether you formulate a new plan or act on your existing one.
42. How much information you get before you make a decision.
43. How much information you share with people.
44. Whether you smoke or drink (unless you’re an alcoholic, in which case I am not qualified to offer you advice).
45. Whether or not you judge other people.
46. Whether you smell good or bad (unless you have some strange resistance to soap and deodorant).
47. How much of what other people say you believe.
48. How quickly you try again after you fall.
49. How many times you say “I love you.”
50. How much rest you get at night.

Odds are, some of these resonate with you more than others; so what? You can’t do fifty things at once anyway.

When I start fixating on something I can’t control, I pick just one of these to think about instead. Minor changes in thinking, I’ve found, lead to major changes in my reality. Do you have any to add to the list?

Photo by Steve Dean

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About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her new book, Tiny Buddha's 365 Tiny Love Challenges, launches on October 6. Pre-order now and you'll instantly receive $300+ in free bonus gifts. For inspiring posts and wisdom quotes, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter & Facebook.

Announcement: Wish you could change the past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • http://habitualvictory.com/ Mike Shippey

    Lori – this is GREAT! And so important.
    It lifts a huge burden when we focus on the things that we have absolute control over, and release the things that we don't.
    It is also how we begin to achieve meaningful results in all areas of our lives.
    Thanks for posting!
    All the best,
    MS

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  • Joe Fortino

    I love this! Thank You.

  • crankepants

    Thankyou that was beautifully timed.

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  • http://www.parisyoung.com/ Paris

    love!

  • kristenlazzara

    Thanks. I needed that.

  • Ari

    These are great points, but I thought #46 was worded with some judgement. There are many reasons someone might have a “strange resistance” to soap or deodorant that are really not that strange but simply natural. You can smell good by bathing without any products. Besides, the idea of smelling “good” or “bad” is so subjective; one woman's perfume is another woman's chemical sensitivity and one man's body-odor is another's musky turn-on!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You're most welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed this post!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Ari! That was actually just my attempt at being funny. I didn't think anyone might actually have a resistance to soap–but you're right. Some people use natural products, and everyone finds different scents appealing. My apologies if that part of this post offended you. ~Lori

  • Jeanette

    Rest at night? What's that?

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  • http://datura80.tumblr.com/ dialateinthedark

    this is so important. thank you! I read it daily.
    xoxo

  • http://datura80.tumblr.com/ dialateinthedark

    this is so important. thank you! I read it daily.
    xoxo

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  • http://cynthiahee.blogspot.com cynthia

    I loved this post! You're totally right about our ability to control only certain parts of our life, but there are so many of those which we CAN control! Thanks for the inspiration. =)

  • http://twitter.com/stitchandchat Pam Grushkin

    A worthwhile read.

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  • carolyn

    I want to thank you for publishing this. I read it during an overseas trip, and it really helped me. I have a fear of flying, and on the way from one location to another, we experience turbulence the entire 2.5 hour flight. I recalled this post and told myself that I can't control the wind, but I can control my breathing and my heart rate. I calmed down and found a good place to be during the flight. Since then, I have used this method to remind myself that I am in control of what I feel, how I act and what I think.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome. I'm so glad this post helped you in a potentially difficult situation. I also have a fear of flying, so I know how that experience can be. Thank you for this comment–what a beautiful reminder to take what we learn off the page!

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  • http://www.asimpleguyblog.blogspot.com D Collins

    Excellent list Lori – Thanks for posting this list of excellent insights – I really enjoyed reading it and will refer to it frequently. Good stuff.
    Dan

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  • Sreyasabina

    I was about to send this to a friend, and then realized how unfair #50 would seem to her, since her kids are sick and she has close to zero control how much rest to get at night!

  • Sreyasabina

    #50 does have to go. Only someone who has never been a parent could include it! :

  • Sreyasabina

    #50 does have to go. Only someone who has never been a parent could include it! :

  • Sreyasabina

    #50 does have to go. Only someone who has never been a parent could include it! :

  • Sreyasabina

    #50 does have to go. Only someone who has never been a parent could include it! :

  • Sreyasabina

    #50 does have to go. Only someone who has never been a parent could include it! :

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I hear ya! I’m not a parent and I didn’t consider that when I wrote this, but it’s a valid point.

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  • Lynn

    Lori,

    Thanks. I was sitting here at my desk and wondering why I am so unhappy. You basically let me know in simple terms that I am unhappy because of me. That my unhappiness can change only if I recognize that I might be the problem and the problem solver. Also, that I can control my unhappiness. Thanks again you really uplifted me today.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. I’m glad I was able to help you come to this empowering conclusion!

  • guest

    im in a bad break up right now and this helped me a lot… i really appreciate this!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m so glad this helped a little!

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  • http://www.plioz.com Mitchell

    So true, love the quote, we often worry on future that hasn’t happened yet forget about the present.

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  • lynro

    Thank you. This list is very helpful and encouraging.

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  • Krgilcatch7

    I’ve probably read this 20 times in the last month, and will continue to as often as I need. This is such a good post that I think everyone really ought to read!

  • Courtney

    I am a huge fan of everything in tinybuddha, but I especially love this. I’ve tried to reference it often. Great advice :)

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    I love this technology. Thanks. I need that. 

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  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome! =)

  • adaptIO LLC

    Great list of things to remember.  Thanks so much for this gift.

    Namaste.

    iGongyo – The Buddhist chanting app for iPhone
    http://bit.ly/iGongyoiTunes

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  • Stephanie Durkee

    Sup peeps or should I say people of earth
    -PEACE OUT-
    Sucker

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    There is nice guide to be troubleshoot the van of life. 

  • Kaylynne walsh

    i dont think i would be wanting to control them things just yet i meant i wanted to control things like people a bit like mind compulsion thats what do you have enything like that i could control but its good advise for me when im older because i have a real temper me but i dont think enyone here where i live minds because calaforna is a nice place to be iv met lots of super stars like nina dobrev
    kayla ewel and other people from the vampire diaries i was even at anna paquin and stephen moyers
    wedding i no right iv been on tv before as well actuly im on the vampire diaries im anna in it

  • Susan boyle

    thanks they realy worked

  • Nina dobrev

    omg ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh youv completley heeled me thanks alot

  • Annapaquin22

    im vary disapointed with my self for not beliving you about heeling me of my self control

  • ada j.

    Wonderful and inspirational as we kick off 2012!! Best wishes for all in the new year!

  • ada j.

    Wonderful and inspirational as we kick off 2012!! Best wishes for all in the new year!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you and same to you! =)

  • Dawna

    This was the ideal reality check for me today, Lori. It’s been a rough couple of weeks, and so much right now is out of my control… I’m struggling to find control of some things. This list was a good reminder of just how much I do have control over. It doesn’t change the things that have my heart sad, but it’s important for me to focus on the things that I can look after rather than being angry and frustrated about the things I can’t.

    Thank you. :)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome Dawna. I’m glad this helped!

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  • Charlie

    This really is the best article I have ever read. Thank you much <3 xxxxxx

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

     You’re most welcome. =)

  • Darcy

    Reading this really helped me out of a funk today! Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re welcome Darcy. I’m glad it helped! =)

  • KaraBauer

    Thanks for this. Been spending a lot of time obsessing about things I cannot control. This definitely helped.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad this helped Kara!

  • TRINIDAD

    ILOVEYOULORI DESCHENE

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you! I love you too! =)

  • maxwil verscot

    I love u too,lori it gave me such brillant boost to my mind with fearr

  • maxwil verscot

    Tiny buddha,i love u

  • Lori Deschene

    Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed this post:)

  • http://www.facebook.com/sanchamroeunrupp Chamroeun San

    😀 Great!

  • Bruce

    This is really great. I used to draw a circle and whatever was able to control went inside and whatever was out of my control went outside. Your list is actually much easier!! 16 is a tough one for me as I have such high expectations of myself. But I’m getting better. Thank you for this!!! Peace and blessings to you.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank so much, and you’re most welcome. That’s a great idea, about drawing a circle. Just identifying what’s in/our of our control is such a powerful exercise–one I need and benefit from often!

  • right-now

    What if you can’t control how much rest you get at night, say, because you have to wake up early for work to earn money to feed your family.

    Sure I can “control” this by sleeping in, missing work, losing my job, and losing my food ticket. But I have no immediate control over this without it creating disaster in my life. I really don’t understand the point of this article. It’s like, a list of fifty things those with privilege can control.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I was more so thinking about the choice of when we go to sleep at night. I’m sorry to hear that you’re spread so thin right now. I know how it is when you feel overextended!

  • right-now

    No you weren’t. What if someone can’t go to sleep at a reasonable hour because they have to work long hours, early and late. You need perspective. Not everyone works a 9-5 job and has the rest of the day to twiddle away wishing they were reading or exercising. Sleep schedules, food choices, exercise. Do some research into food deserts and how much some people actually work. These are things only the privileged have control over in their lives. Sorry Lori, your list is flawed.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I personally feel most of these things are within everyone’s control, but I can understand why the sleep one would you rub you the wrong way if you’re feeling overworked and exhausted. I wouldn’t be surprised if the list is flawed, as I am too!

  • right-now

    You feel that “most of these things” are in within everyone’s control or “all”? Your article says these are “guaranteed,” not “guaranteed more or less.” Come on now.

  • Cosmo

    Well you certainly had time to reply here, when you could have been resting. Looks to me as if you have other things to look at like always having to be right. Your thoughts appear to consume you and prevent you from being present and having a happier life. I urge you to open your mind. No one is going to argue with you and tell you what “is” as your perception is your reality. However for many of us who share the same struggles as you do, we are continually learning how to be with our thoughts, feelings and memories and live life in the present. I wish you well.

  • PeopleWhineAlot

    I was a sales manager for New England compounding Center and I made boatloads of money until some weak patients had the audacity to die on tainted medications that I sold. Many people say Robert why aren’t you driving the Mercedes anymore and it infuriates me. I also gotta look over my shoulder cause the feds just indicted me. Why cant folks just leave me alone. Most are jealous of my success but I say you gotta break rules and step on people to really excel in life. Forget about the hearafter live for yourself TODAY

  • BlahBlahbittyBlargh

    Why don’t you try looking at it a different way? You can “control” this by going to bed earlier, waking up well-rested, excelling at your job, getting a raise at work and having more for food….. Just look at all options, not just the worst case ones.

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