The notion that all external events are determined by fate, and are thus beyond our control, among other things, was enough to get Epictetus, a Greek speaking Stoic who lived from AD 55 – 135, banished from Rome.

Epictetus taught that philosophy is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. article, photo article, photo

He further emphasized we should accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately.

However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline.

If I were sitting in his class, I would gently straighten my toga, raise my hand and politely express, “Professor Epictetus? I am baffled, confused, dumbfounded, bunny doggled and completely don’t understand anything about what you just said.”

After getting banished from Professor Epictetus class, let’s speed dial thousands of years later to a prominent person today who seems to be saying the same thing in simple terms that I think we can all understand.

Charles Rozell “Chuck” Swindoll is an evangelical Christian pastor, author, educator, and radio preacher. He founded Insight for Living, headquartered in Plano, Texas, which airs a radio program of the same name on more than 2,000 stations around the world in 15 languages. He is currently senior pastor at Stonebriar Community Church, in Frisco, Texas.

He was once quoted as saying, “The longer I love, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church….a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitudes.”

That makes sense.

That’s simple to understand.

It is a very tough concept to accept though, especially for those of us whose life did not go as planned or remotely hoped for.

Stated another way, do you mean to say that the reason that so many people are living a great life with money, travel, a massive real estate empire, a back yard full of friends, a great job and a gorgeous spouse is because they reacted to life’s situations 90 percent better than I did?

Please don’t tell me that.

I do know of situations that occurred during the United States housing crash where some people lost their shirts while others made a ton of money.

In our female submission wrestling and freestyle wrestling world I have often wondered why there is no compensated professional wrestling industry for women to compete in where they don’t get beat up in an MMA cage or have to take their clothes off.

I’ve looked high and low and none seems to exist.

In the freestyle world they have many camps for kids and the organizers are very up front about how the ultimate goal is have the girls grow up, receive a scholarship and have their college educations paid for.

That’s noble enough but I think it begs the question, why are the girls in the freestyle world content to have that singlet ceiling on top of their heads?

What is the decision that virtually all of them make after their four years in the WCWA are over?


That is their reaction to the limits that life has placed upon them. That clearly falls within the 90 percent reaction rule.

You see, on the men’s side of the aisle, in the football industry, what if all of those youth football camps were created for the purpose of elevating the boys to the college level and then they retire?

In other words the greats like Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Tony Dorsett, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and the long list of NFL super star’s memories would never exist if they all retired after college.

That theory sounds so absurd that as a society, most would not only laugh at it, but even become upset if it was instituted.

Why does it sound so logical that most women who participate in sports from gymnastics to ballet and wrestling mostly retire after their amateur careers are done?

This 90 percent reaction rule is really rattling around in my brain because I mostly like where I am, but simultaneously absolutely hate the often nightmarish journey that got me here.

This writer would also say that my life should be at least 70 percent better than it is, if only I truly understood, excelled at and applied the 90% decision making rule in my twenties.

Before this gets too depressing let’s have a little levity, and turn to a place where we can examine and laugh at other people’s mind boggling reactions to the 10 percent of what life threw at them.

Where better to do it where they won’t turn around with a skillet and bop us upside the head than the world of film?

Actors are paid to act in bunny doggling ways.

First let’s examine the film, then I’ll present the fork in the road scenario, and then ask you what you would do?

Fair enough?

Our favorite film critic’s site and his group provide us with the foundation for movie number one.

It’s entitled The Lifeguard (not the one with Sam Elliott).

“The Lifeguard is the story of Leigh (Kristen Bell), valedictorian of her high school class, reporter for the Associated Press, living in New York City. We see her life in a meandering collage that opens the film. article, Focus World Screen Media Films photo article, Focus World Screen Media Films photo

She had been dating her editor, who then gets engaged to someone else (he says to a friend on the phone, right in front of Leigh, “It’s about time I manned up!”). To make matters worse, Leigh wrote a story about a tiger chained in a New York apartment. The tiger died of malnutrition. Lost in the symbolism of her own story, Leigh relates to said tiger. On a moment’s notice, literally mid-drink at a night spot, Leigh goes back to her apartment, packs her bag, packs up her cat, and moves home to live with her parents, not even informing them of her plans.”

How would you say our star reacted to the situation that life threw at her?

Not good. It gets worse.

Now that she is 30 and back at home with a mother who doesn’t want her there, how should she react?

  1. Make plans to get a serious job in town so she can move out on her own.
  2. Make plans to get a serious job in another city and start life fresh but don’t let some guy use her up and throw her away.
  3. Work as a Life Guard and write her first important novel.
  4. Have sex with a troubled under aged teenager.

Well, like Kristen’s character, if you picked option D, it seems like you have a future in screen writing, only while we watch your movie on our flat screen in the comfort of our home, you get to see a pirated copy in prison.

Okay, so she got a little confused. Talk about applying the 90 percent rule in a bunny doggling way.

One more.

In the 2015 horror film Curve, Mallory (Julianne Hough of Dancing with the Stars and the Footloose remake) is leaving behind her life and her beloved sister in San Francisco and makes a decision (90 percent reaction rule) to drive alone in her fiancé’s Ford Bronco, which was built when Epictetus attended Eastern Rome high, breaks down out in the middle of nowhere and along comes a hunky nice guy stranger to help her. article, paramount pictures home entertainment photo credit article, paramount pictures home entertainment photo credit

After he helped her what did she do?

  1. Thank him and leave fast (because after all, what in the world is he doing walking alone a hundred miles away from anywhere).
  2. Thank him and offer a complete stranger a ride.

Being the type of person who drives old Broncos out in the middle of nowhere she chooses B.

As they drive along he clearly turns out to be someone who doesn’t like old Broncos or poor decision making beautiful young women wearing sexy shorts. He orders her to drive to a cabin in an isolated area.

Okay, decision time. If you are her what would you do?

  1. Be submissive and drive to the cabin as ordered.
  2. Stop the Bronco, get into a fist fight with him and trap him in a head scissor (or body scissors). Get on your cell and call Ariel for suggestions.
  3. Offer to trade your shorts for his blue jeans.
  4. Scream help in the middle of nowhere.
  5. Drive off an embankment, have your leg get bloodied and trapped so you’ll find yourself out alone in the dark freezing to death and eating dead rats while flood waters are rising and your only way to escape is to amputate your leg.

Oh, by the way, he walks away with barely a scratch.

Okay, if you chose E like she did, then you are on your way to your second screen play and a very bad stomach ache.

Please listen.

Is there a moral to this tale?

What if every time that you had to make an important decision, you actually wrote down your options on paper?

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Sources:, Wikipedia,, FCI Elite Competitor, photos thank you Wikimedia Commons.