The Entrepreneurial Engineer

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Square of Epictetus

I've blogged about Epictetus before (here), and I really like the opening words of the Enchiridion:
Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.

If we think of the things in our control and not in our control and consider them juxtaposed with our internal state of mind (concerned or not concerned), we can get a nice visualization of what I've chosen to call the Square of Epictetus.

The two positive quadrants are when we are concerned with those things we can control and unconcerned with the things we do not. I've called these, the quadrants of accomplishment and peace of mind, respectively. On the other hand, when we spend concern on things we do not control or when we do not mind things we can and should, I've labeled these quadrants, the quadrants of needless worry and foregone opportunity.

In which quadrant do you spend most of your time? There can be honest difference of opinion between one of the two positive quadrants, and there can be genuine difficulty in not knowing whether something is controllable, even partially, or not, but looking at it this way, I wonder why I've spent as much of my life as I have in the quadrant of needless worry.

How do your rate in the Square of Epictetus? Where do you spend your time, and do you think you are spending your time wisely?


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