How to (almost) never have a bad shift [PODCAST]

“To understand how to create good shifts irrespective of external factors, I turned to the ancient philosophy of Stoicism. One of its core tenets is that we must focus on what is within our control. Epictetus said: ‘Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.’

Too often, we ignore his admonitions, and we focus our efforts on things that are outside our control while paradoxically relinquishing control of things that are within our control. Things within our control, per the Stoics, are our own thoughts, emotions, and actions. We relinquish control of them by allowing our emotions to be unduly affected by external things. ‘That person said something that made me upset,’ or ‘I’m angry because I couldn’t get something I needed.’ On the other hand, we try to control things that are outside our circle of control, such as other people’s actions or opinions, politics, coronavirus, or even the weather. We try to control them in our minds by resisting their presence, continuously wishing them away, or perseverating that they should be different. In order to have the inner tranquility and outer effectiveness Epictetus encouraged, we must give up the fiction that we can control things outside ourselves and maintain better control of ourselves.”

Christina Shenvi is an emergency physician and can be reached on Twitter @clshenvi.

She shares her story and discusses her KevinMD article, “How to (almost) never have a bad shift.”

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