4 Easy Ways to Focus on What You Can Control

The stress we all deal with on a day-to-day basis is alot to handle. For better or worse, there are many things in our lives that are out of our control. However, if you place all of your attention on the things you can’t control instead of putting the focus on what you can control, it’s likely that you’ll feel even more stressed out – like you have no control over your own life. However, this is not the case.

Believe it or not, there are a bunch of very important things you can control in life. If you focus on what you can control, you can change your mindset for the better, resulting in a more positive outlook on life and a can do attitude. 

Here are 4 ways to focus on what you can control. 

1. Focus on What You Can Control by Making a List

The first step to focus on what you can control is to make a list of “things I can control.” When you take a step back and make this list, you’ll likely realize that you have a lot more control than you thought. 

Here are some ideas to put on your “Things I Can Control” list.

  • Your attitude: While we can’t control what happens to us, we can control our attitude towards these things. For example, let’s pretend you’re stuck in traffic and late for work. When these external factors are in control of your situation, one of the only things you can control is your attitude. Are you going to lose your cool and have zero patience, cursing the cars around you? Or, are you going to say, “it is what it is” and just enjoy the music or podcast you’re listening to? 
  • Your effort: Whether it’s at work or in your personal life, you control the effort you put in. Focus on what you can control by having a can do attitude and putting your utmost effort into everything you do. You can’t control the outcomes of situations, but when you control what you can control – your effort – you can increase the chances of having a positive outcome.
  • Your breath: While we breathe 24/7 without even thinking about it, we do have the power to hone in on our breath and use it to our advantage. Focusing on the breath and using different types of breathing techniques – such as Wim Hof breathing or deep, slow belly breaths during meditation – can have positive impacts on your mental health
  • Your self care: We can’t control the hand we’ve been dealt in life, and we can’t just “choose” to not have a mental health condition, for example. But the things you can control include how you decide to take care of yourself and your mental wellbeing – whether that’s making a conscious effort to practice self care regularly or going to therapy to get the help you need.  
  • Your diet and fitness: We can’t control our genetic predispositions to health conditions or snap out of chronic illnesses, but you can focus on what you can control and take charge of your fitness activity and diet. Controlling these aspects of your life and having conscious discipline can help improve your health.

Use these as inspiration for your “Things I Can Control” list and add anything else that applies to you. Keep this list somewhere handy so that you can reference it anytime you feel like your life is out of control, so you can remember that there are always things you can control.

2. Use Mindful Breathing to Focus on What You Can Control

As we mentioned, one of the things you can control is your breath. The breath is a super powerful tool, and the more you use conscious discipline to focus on your breath, the better you will get at being able to stay grounded in the present moment and focus on what you can control. Not only will practicing mindful breathing help you learn to stay focused on things you can control, but it will also bring you other benefits such as being better able to manage anxiety and stress.

Here is one simple way to practice mindful breathing to focus on what you can control:

  1. Lay down and put one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly.
  2. Take a deep, slow inhale through your nose. Remember that the breath is one of the things you can control. Try to inhale for a count of 5. Feel your belly rise as you breathe in.
  3. Hold your breath for a couple of seconds before exhaling through your mouth through pursed lips, slowly and with control. Try to exhale for a count of 7. Feel your bell fall as you breathe out all the air.
  4. Continue this process for at least 10 full breaths. With every inhale and exhale, you can say to yourself, “My breath is one of the many things I can control.”

Mindful breathing requires conscious discipline, but the more you do it, the easier it will get, and you will certainly notice the benefits.

3. Cultivate Positivity to Control What You Can Control

When you focus on what you can control rather than things that you can’t control, this helps you cultivate positivity. Think about it: if you focus on all the things that are out of your control, you’ll likely feel stressed out and maybe even pessimistic. You might feel like things will never change, or you might feel stuck. On the other hand, if you use conscious discipline to shift your attention to focus on what you can control, you will have a more positive mindset, and feel like you have the power and strength to control what you can control.  Remember, a little bit of positivity can go a long way!

4. Keep a "Can Do Attitude" to help Focus on What You Can Control

Along with cultivating positivity, keeping a “can do attitude” can help you to focus on things you can control, while also actively working towards controlling these things. It’s one thing to just think about the things you can control, but it’s another thing to practice the things you can control. We suggest taking a look at your “Things I Can Control” list every day and asking yourself what you can do to enact at least one or two of these action items. Keep your can do attitude no matter which item on the list you’re referencing – whether it’s your breathing or your attitude.


It’s going to take time to shift your mindset to focus on what you can control – but stick with it. It will be well worth it. With conscious discipline and a can do attitude, you can change your life. If you need some extra help, try to focus on what you can control and develop new healthy habits with our app. You can also take our 21 day challenge to really get your life on track.

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