A decent summary of Stoicism is the art of not being pathetic. Pathetic in the sense of filled with Pathos, where Pathos means reactive emotion in which you feel things in response to what happens to you, but don’t respond to it.
Feeling bad and not doing anything about it or changing what you think about anything is pathetic.
A suggested method for doing so is getting a better idea of what you can and can’t control, and focusing on just the things you can control.
So I’ve been becoming less pathetic for the past two years or so. I was already pretty good at staying calm, and I got better at being calmer about roughly everything. Becoming less obsessive, spending less time anxious or worried, etc. Not being worried about people getting in car accidents on the way home and whatnot. Not going in mental loops about what people say to me.
I’m pretty happy with the changes, but I’ve recently started to notice that there’s something that I’ve been leaving out.
You can be less pathetic by taking control of more things.
For a while, whenever it’s been unclear whether or not particular things were in my control or not, I’ve opted towards thinking that it’s not in my control, then worrying less about it.
This pretty much totally sucks.
A lot of culture makes it very easy to not take responsibility for things that you weren’t given responsibility for. Which is all fine and dandy if you’re trying to avoid being blamed, but totally useless if you actually care about anything happening.
So in grey zones, I should tend much towards thinking that I can and should do something about it, and more importantly, towards feeling something about it.