Last night a friend and I were up into the early hours of the morning talking about philosophy, life and mental health—as one does after several beers.

There was a component of the mental health discussion that I have a difficult time getting past—worrying about things entirely outside of one’s control.

I wrote a bit about this in 2016. There are millions of things that you can waste time and energy stressing about. The things that are out of your control are not worth the time. It feels like it should be obvious—but sometimes people can’t see.

You’re concerned about the environment. We’re throwing away electronics instead of recycling them. We’re still burning dinosaurs for electricity.

What can you do about that?

You can recycle, buy energy-efficient goods and turn the lights off before you leave. That’s the extent of what most people can do to help the environment. If you’re serious about it, talk to friends and family about the importance of recycling—write about it. Write your senators and representatives!

You’re sickened by today’s political climate. You read the news. You hangout with likeminded people on Twitter and reddit and complain about how terrible people are.

What can you do about that?

Go talk to people different than you. Try to understand where they are coming from why they are angry. You might not agree with them, but you might learn something. You might find common ground. Maybe they’ll even see some merit in your opinions.

In both cases worrying about the macro-level problem doesn’t do any good, because they can’t be solved by an individual. The only way to approach those problems is to break them down into things that you—an individual—can do.

Don’t forget the larger picture, but don’t stress about it either.

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