50 Things You Can Control Right Now

crystal ball

“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, or, if you’re not working, how you think about your time off.
3. Your level of honesty.
4. How well you prepare, mentally or physically.
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 dwell on negative thoughts or let them go.
16. Whether or not you form expectations of people.
17. Whether you eat healthy or unhealthy food.
18. How you respond to someone’s question or email or call.
19. How much time you spend worrying.
20. Whether you try new things or do what you’ve always done.
21. How often you move your body (if you have the privilege of being mobile).
22. How many times you swear in traffic (if you’re fortunate enough to own a car).
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 things that are on your mind.
30. How much physical stuff you accumulate.
31. What books you read.
32. Whether you honor your values or not.
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, or, if you have to cancel many for health reasons, how kind you are to yourself when you do it.
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 indulge unhealthy habits or work to replace them with healthy ones.
45. Whether or not you judge other people.
46. How often you tune into your senses to pull yourself into the moment.
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. Whether you focus on what’s going right or what seems to be going wrong.

Odds are, some of these resonate with you more than others, and that’s okay. You can’t do fifty things at once anyway.

And some of these things may not be in your control, if, for example, you’re struggling with a debilitating illness. But I’m willing to bet the majority of these things are still within your grasp. The point is to focus on what you personally can control, even if your list differs from mine.

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

**This post has been revised to incorporate valuable feedback from a Tiny Buddha community member.

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha. She started the site after struggling with depression, bulimia, c-PTSD, and toxic shame so she could recycle her former pain into something useful and inspire others do the same. She recently created the Breaking Barriers to Self-Care eCourse to help people overcome internal blocks to meeting their needs—so they can feel their best, be their best, and live their best possible life. If you’re ready to start thriving instead of merely surviving, you can learn more and get instant access here.

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