My therapist is a huge fan of highlighting when I care about things that are out of my control.
I realized recently while reading “a guide to the good life” that the dichotomy she set up between “things that are in my control” and “things that are not in my control” was false.
Not that those two things don’t exist: surely you can set goals and those goals are entirely in your control. And also the sun will rise tomorrow and that’s entirely out of your control (unless you invent very large retro-thrusters and anchor them facing east and set them to full power to slow the earths rotation but please don’t)
The book uses the example of a tennis match. Not in your control, but certainly influenced by your performance.
The book asks: how then, can we aim to engage fully in an activity that is not in our complete control without risking our tranquility and inner peace?
The answer is by setting goals that ARE entirely in your control. For example: to do you best in the tennis match.
In this case no matter the outcome, you have control over whether you achieved your goal. You’re always aiming to do your best or to one-up yourself. This relates deeply to The Four Agreements. It’s essentially the same advice restated in a different and more compelling model. This is why you find the greats competing and comparing internally vs. externally.