You Get To Decide


Dear Friends,

One of my favorite books is Ryan Holiday's The Obstacle Is The Way. 

The follow-up Ego Is The Enemy fantastic too, but The Obstacle Is The Way was a "quake" book for me. 

That is, this book completely shook up my world (in the best way possible). It's one of the only books I continue to reread on a consistent basis. 

When something comes into your life that shifts your paradigm in the best way possible, it's hard not to share the high praise.

This very practice of writing letters to you, my dear Friends, can be traced back to my reading of that book. 

Seneca, a Stoic philosopher, has his work featured throughout Holiday's book. Seneca wrote letters to Lucilius which included lessons, observations, and advice from what he's learned along the way. 

Letters To My Friends is my modern take on an ancient classic. 

So yes, this book helped me develop a framework for my writing. 

But I think the most important thing I took away from the book was a simple shift in mindset. 

It's the premise of the whole book and one of the foundations of Stoic philosophy. 

You see, we can't always control what happens in our lives. 

Good things will happen. 

Bad things will happen. 

Ugly things will happen.

We can't control that. 

But there is one thing that we always have the power to control:

Our ability to choose what an event means to us. 

What do I mean?

Even though I called out the good bad and ugly, no event in our lives is actually that. 

The event itself is neutral. 


It's the meaning that we give that drives its power. 

We get to decide. 

We can't change the event. But we can decide what we do with it. 

In my short time on this planet, this is one of the only things that I've found to be universal across the board. We can't escape this. 

If Viktor Frankl, a badass dude, and survivor of the Holocaust, could refer to this as the last of the human freedoms, I think it's worthy of some due consideration. 

I'm a big advocate of taking 100% responsibility for our lives. It's something that I'm by no means an expert but is something I consciously practice. 

We get to decide whether life happens to us or because of us.

When we take 100% responsibility, we quickly realize it happens because of us, and this can be incredibly empowering. 

Look, if you're struggling right now, know this. You got yourself into this mess. Own up to it. Whenever you're at, no one has the right to judge. 

So, please, be kind to yourself. You're doing the best you can with what you have. I get it. 

But own your shit. 

Because once you do, you quickly learn that you're also the solution to any and every challenge that comes your way. 

Your problems become your opportunities. Your obstacles become your way. 

If you got yourself in, you can damn sure get yourself out. 

Own that. 

You get to decide what it all means. 

So I ask you, what does it mean to you? How will you decide?

With Love,


Evan CookComment