Acting on What We Can Act On

There are things we can control in our lives and there are things we cannot. However, too many of us spend time lamenting the things not under our control. And while we are lamenting, we are losing time that could be better spent controlling the things that we can change and make better.

I suspect this often happens when it comes to our personal appearance. Some of us might wish we were taller. Others among us might wish our ears were less conspicuous. Some of us might wish we had more hair on top of our head, etc. No doubt, there are things about ourselves that we would like to change, but that might not be under our control. But how often do we work to maximize the things we can change, that we can control?

For example, some of us might not be as tall as we would like to be. There are, of course, some things we can do to help us give a taller impression. First off, if we are overweight, losing weight will work toward helping us appear taller. Second, choosing clothes and shoes that elongate our appearance will go a long way to helping us look taller. And, overall, our level of personal confidence and competence is far more important than our height.

I am not unsympathetic to people who lament what they see as personal physical imperfections. Hey, I have been there. As a matter of fact, I still lament some of my own physical flaws. And I have a bunch. However, what I have learned over the years is that I am better off fixing what I can and accepting the things I cannot fix. I now work to take action on what is in my power to act on. I cannot control the rain, but I can carry an umbrella.

The most productive use of my time is putting my energies into things I can change, not sitting alone wishing something about me was different. This applies to all areas of my life. I bet the same holds true for you.

When it comes to our work lives or our academic careers or just our life in general, there are some things that we might wish were different but that are not under our control. How about everything that is under our control, though? Wouldn’t we be better off taking dynamic action to change what we can, while understanding that we cannot change everything?

We aren’t robots. We are people. We can become sad owing to a set of circumstances we are in. That is undeniable and understandable. However, the best thing we can do to accomplish our goals and live our dreams is to take stock of what we can change or control and what we cannot. In that way, we can focus our energies where they really can make a difference. In the long run, this will make our lives more fulfilling.

Image courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici] /

*Authors note: You might see this column pop up online in a newspaper, under the name Both Sides. I am publishing this column here first at For a bunch of years, I have been writing newspaper columns. Since my columns have received a good response on CYInterview, I thought I would share it with you. Hope you enjoy.

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