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The Benefits of Losing Control

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Many of the thoughts in here come from the ideas behind the book Stumbling on HappinessI highly suggest you pick it up and have a little read. It’s short and entertaining plus it delves into the reasoning behind why we love and appreciate control.

The fact is that human beings come into the world with a passion for control, they go out of the world the same way, and research suggests that if they lose their ability to control things at any point between their entrance and their exit, they become unhappy, helpless, hopeless, and depressed. – Stumbling on Happiness

We are blessed with the ability to adapt to our surroundings. We have foresight – not the ability to predict the future, but rather the ability to know what comes next without actually experiencing it. We’re using past experiences and knowledge to predict the outcome of a certain situation. For instance, you don’t have to touch a stove burner when it’s on to know that it will be hot. Your past experiences plus all of the information you’ve heard about stove burners leads you to the assumption that if you touch it, you’ll get burned. It’s not exactly rocket science.

This ability to predict the future is one of the main elements that separates us homo sapiens from our knuckle-dragging, hairy cousins. Now, you may be sitting there thinking that your dog or your cat has the powers of foresight and prediction. Perhaps when you’re cooking, your dog lays on the floor of the kitchen because he just knows you’ll drop something on the floor. The difference: your dog had to experience you dropping food multiple times and taste that this food would likely be delicious before keeping camp in the kitchen.

Animals must experience before they make judgement. They can learn to predict certain scenarios. You and I are born with it. You could never touch a stove burner in your life yet you still know that it would burn your hand.

The Power of Control

You and I love to control elements of our lives. As the opening quote so eloquently reiterates, it’s when we lose that ability to control that we wallow in a pit of despair. For instance, when was the last time someone (either your mom, a significant other, or a friend) told you to do something whether it was fold your clothes, eat breakfast, get dressed, or even take a shower.

We don’t like to be told when, how, and where to do things. We like to have control over our lives including when we get dressed, what we eat for breakfast, and who we associate with (hence why you get pissed off when your parents try to define your circle of friends). Relinquishing that power leaves us void of some element of control.

When we lose control, we lose a certain aspect of our lives. Hence why entrepreneurship is becoming ever more popular. It allows the ultimate amount of control. In contrast, being chained to a desk all day and dictated to is the ultimate lose of control. As the quote above illustrates, when we lose this sense of control, we become “unhappy, helpless, hopeless, and depressed.”

Why You Should Lose Control

So, having control is a good thing. It allows you to feel confident and secure. However, I’d be willing to argue that often times, in order to succeed, you must lose control. When we are holding on to something so tight, we often overlook the big picture and forget about our surroundings.

Time and time again, you’ll hear about young entrepreneurs that quit college or got fired and started their own business only to become the most successful ____ ever.

Everything great happens outside of your comfort zone. The best vacations are often the most unplanned. The best nights out often start with you almost deciding to stay in before going out for “just a few hours”, yet it leads to the night of your life.

These are not coincidences. When we attempt to plan everything out, we remove the chaos from our life, and most of the time, that chaos makes things interesting. Control is great in most instances, but sometimes, you have to throw caution to the wind.

“If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” – Mario Andretti

So, I urge you to lose control over at least a few aspects of your life and see where it takes you. Don’t invest all of your money in the stock market, that’s an example of losing control, but it’s also a perfect example of stupidity. Take baby steps and relinquish some control. See where it takes you.

As I stated above, many of the opening thoughts to this post are from Stumbling on Happiness. If not simply because you’re impressed with the opening quote, I would urge you to pick it up because it contains so many useful and extremely interesting tidbits. Plus, I don’t make any money off that link so why would I lead you astray?

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