You only have so much time and energy to spend each day. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to exhaust your resources on anything that you can’t influence. Worrying about the rain won’t make it stop. Being annoyed that you’re shorter than average isn’t going to cause you to grow.
However, we spend much of our time and energy in negative emotional states over issues that are beyond our control.
Most of the negative thoughts you have each day are similar to being upset over the weather or traffic. There’s simply nothing you can do about it. You’re only upsetting yourself needlessly.
There are really only two things you can control:
The time you spend “thinking” and “doing” is all that you can manipulate. You can choose what food you put in your mouth and how much you exercise. You can choose whether you watch TV or clean the house. You control whether you apologize to someone or not.
You can choose to think happy thoughts or thoughts that make you unhappy.
When you focus on what you can influence, you’ll find that you can accomplish so much more!
It's important to understand the differences of circles of influence and concern and how they affect each other.
In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey articulates this by distinguishing between our Circle of Concern (things we care about but can’t control) and our Circle of Influence (things we care about and can impact). This short video explains it more:
I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions. -- Dr. Stephen R. Covey
You can use these strategies to keep your attention on what you can do today to make a difference:
Much of life is beyond your control. From the decisions made by the CEO to global issues, there are many things in life that you can’t control to a significant degree.
However, there are a few things that you can control completely. This is where your time, thoughts, and energy can do the most good.
Avoid focusing on circumstances that you simply can’t influence. Why upset yourself further when no solution exists? The greatest gift you have is your attention. Put it to the best possible use.