Friday, August 31, 2012

Seizing your Agency

Normally, I would be having a panic attack
in this situation.
I, like most of you, sometimes find myself in situations where I am completely saturated in frustration.  You know those times I'm talking about when you want to just scream at the top of your lungs or punch a pillow. A blog on maximizing your potential wouldn't be complete unless it dealt with the common sources of stress and frustration.  Over the last few days, I took some time to think about what exactly bothers me.  Here is what I determined.

There are a few situations where I am completely stressed out and they usually are the following; knowing I will not make an event no matter how fast I try, being stuck in a situation where I will not get fed for hours, being stuck in traffic, stuck in plane turbulence, etc...  Notice a theme in my neither at first.  Like most people, these events I have listed are not necessarily pleasant experiences, but knowing how to deal with them in a positive light can be a life changing experience.  Alright, so what do these events all have in common?  They are all situations in which I no longer have control over my future.  This type of event is described by philosophers and sociologists as "losing your agency".

We are all used to the modern definitions of agency that usually involves some sort of business context, however in the sociology perspective, agency is the ability to act out one's will.  In the above examples, my will was to get where I had to go on time, or travel safely.  In all those situations, I lost all control over my fate as I was relinquished to the sidelines of serendipity by traffic or a pilot.

As human beings, having control over one's free will is absolutely necessary to live a fulfilling life.  Wars have been fought for such reasons, and to find yourself in a situation where you have to relinquish all control is downright scary.  You are now trusting in the skills of that pilot or the collective mind of all the drivers in traffic.  Unfortunately, these are all situations in which you will find yourself in more than once for the rest of your life.

So what are we going to do about this?  Well, I'm not about to tell you that you have to find a way to be in control of the situation, because that's not going to work.  You won't find a way to be in control of the plane or make traffic flow faster.  Instead, be in control of your thoughts.  This isn't some wish-washy solution, but hear me out.  The times you find yourself out of control of your own life's destiny is the perfect time to think introspectively.  You have now been given the opportunity to forget about all the junk happening around you and instead focus on where you are going in life, what great new ideas you have to offer, forming life changing thoughts, or even just finding the time to think about nothing.

I debated whether to include this section into my "Modern Day Muses" category, however I think there is more to this than just finding inspiration.  This concept is about accepting your lack of control in these certain situations and learning to adapt.  Believe me, this is not as easy as it sounds, as I also find myself relapsing into deep frustration.  Take a deep breath and instead think about the next steps you will take towards maximizing all that you have to offer.

Wonderful Moment of the Day: Zip-lining 50 feet above the ground from tree to tree with my Wife.

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