You Can Control One Thing

There are hundreds of things we have practically no ability to control, change, or choose.



The past.

The weather.

The government.

Disease and disaster.

Other people’s opinions.

Whether they love you back.

The circumstances of your birth.

Some of these you have more control over than others – for most of these, it’s limited control at best. It’s easy to be frustrated by this, and say “What’s the point of doing anything? I can’t control anything about my life!”

But there is something you can control. There is exactly one thing you can control, change, and make choices for.


You can control yourself. You can change yourself. You have the ability to make choices, and affect the course of your life.

For everything else you don’t have full control over: you don’t have to have full control. You can make up most of the difference by finding ways of influencing life in your favor.

Influence Without Control

You can’t control when you die – but you can make healthy choices to delay your end. Some people even think that one day we will all Transcend death, but that day is not today.

You can’t avoid taxes – normally. Not to mention expenses. But you can make choices that improve your finances over time.

You can’t change the past – but you can think differently about it. Reflect, think about lessons you’ve learned, and change your future.

You can’t control the weather – but you can prepare for it. Watch the weather report, have everything you need to handle it, and know what risks you’re likely to deal with.

You can’t control the government – but you can influence it. Get involved any way you can. And be sure to vote – if your favorite candidate loses, vote for the next best thing, because getting 30% of what you want is better than getting 0%.

You can’t control disease and disaster – but you can prepare for them. The current pandemic aside, once it’s over you can do some research, learn some skills, and be ten times as prepared for the next Emergency as your neighbor.

You can’t control other people’s opinions – but you can influence them! You can learn How to Win Friends and Influence People, and about the science of Influence.

You can’t control whether someone loves you back – and that’s okay! As Mark Manson said in Models, “Rejection exists for a reason — it’s a means to keep people apart who are not good for each other.”

You can’t control the circumstances of your birth – something I know well, and will write about often in the future. Sometimes where, when, and what body you’re born into can radically impact your life, for better or worse. Sometimes life deals you a bad hand – but even if you’re dealt a bad hand, it’s still possible to win in the end as long as you don’t quit the game.

Play to win.