Had a conversation with a friend at the gym last week and I've been chewing on a comment she made ever since, Grady Doctor-style. (The good doctor often writes about remarks made to her in passing that she has mentally filed away to process later because they resonated with her. I knew at the time that this was going to be one of those sorts of comments for me.)
The conversation itself was about soccer--the friend's son plays with Thing One. We were discussing the tryouts for next year and the politics involved and some frustrations she's having with the parental competitiveness bit of it. Small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, no doubt. The interesting thing to me was that midway through a sentence, she stopped, shook herself, and noted that she needed to stop worrying about it, because the issue was only in her sphere of concern, not her sphere of control.
She hastened to add that this was not something she'd come up with herself, but rather a concept that her husband had brought home from some business seminar or other. I'd never heard the concept expressed so succinctly before, so I went home and looked it up. Basically, the universe is divided into four parts: 1) things that you can control, 2) things over which you have influence but not control, 3) things that affect or interest you but over which you have neither influence nor control, and 4) things totally irrelevant to you. Her point was that since she had neither control nor influence over the soccer issue in question, wasting mental energy on it was futile.
The concept itself wasn't new, but sometimes a particular way of expressing a concept makes it stick more. Or maybe it's just that having a quick, easy-to-remember phrase to use as a mental litmus test makes that test more likely to be applied? All I can say is that I've found myself thinking about which sphere a particular issue falls into more than once recently. And if that keeps me from wasting mental energy on something I can't control?? So much the better.
After all, it IS just another way to think of my signature lines: