Don’t Try to Control the World — Start First With Your Mind

There once was a man who tried to cover the earth in leather.

You see, the man had tender feet. So everywhere he walked, the man was in pain. 

The sun made the sand too hot. Jagged edges made rocks too sharp. And fine points made thorns too prickly.

No matter the season, no matter the place, the man walked around feeling upset. The world wasn’t the way he wanted it to be.

So one day he had a brilliant idea.

“If I can just cover the earth with leather, I’d be okay! I could walk over anything and feel no pain.”

But where to find all that leather? He quickly saw the flaw in his plan and deflated, feeling defeated.

Until a friend came over and shared a different idea. “Instead of covering the earth with leather, why not start by covering your feet?”


The man was stunned into silence. It hadn’t occurred to him that it wasn’t the sharp rocks, hot sand, or prickly thorns that were the problem–and perhaps, instead, it was his feet that needed tending to.

And here’s the thing…

Many of us live life like that man. When the world doesn’t behave how we want it to, we complain. We try to “fix” the world out there. And we hold our internal state of wellbeing hostage until the external world changes.

“It’s too hot.” “It’s too cold.”
“Work’s too tough.” “Work’s too boring.”
“My relationships are too taxing.” “I’m too lonely.”

But when our equanimity is dependent on the world being how we want it, we’re emotionally fragile. Always at the beck and call of the ever-changing world around us.

Which…isn’t a great place to be.

But here’s some good news: we have another option.

Instead of trying to change the world in order to feel okay, we can start by changing our minds instead. Deciding to be the type of person who maintains their equanimity, even amidst tough circumstances. Choosing to take responsibility over our internal state, and doing what we can on a daily basis to show up at our best. 

And let’s be honest…There’s a LOT of hot sand, thorny branches, and sharp rocks we need to traverse together if we’re gonna make progress. Especially this year. But really, every year.

The world is filled with challenges. And we need each other showing up at our best if we’re gonna conquer them together.

So let’s let go of the urge to complain about our environment, and strap some leather on our feet so we can get to work.

Big hugs + high-fives,

More from Mindful Ambition

  1. The Equanimity Game: A Simple Practice to Develop Resilience
  2. Maintaining Equanimity in a Sea of Change
  3. Psychological Framing: The Life-Changing Power of Seeing Differently