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Not giving a damn is not the answer

The more I browse social media, the more I see the increasing popularity of the belief that not giving a f*ck is the answer to all of life’s problems…

  • That the answer to caring too much about what people think is to not care
  • That the answer to caring too much about the world’s problems is to not care
  • That the answer to relieving stress in your life is to simply not give a f*ck about anything

And it simply isn’t true. This mode of handling things is just another dysfunctional extreme — the same as caring too much tends to be.

All that “not-giving-a-damn” does is fill the world with more of the types of people no one wants to run into — and as a byproduct, makes the world an even colder and more unfeeling place to be. This, in turn, creates a world of people who don’t care because it’s full of a world of people don’t care — ad infinitum.

The physical equivalent of not giving a damn about anything is putting a blindfold on and sticking your fingers in your ears. It doesn’t make problems go away, it perpetuates them by fooling you into thinking they don’t exist. And it creates a false sense of security and confidence.

The world doesn’t need any more people who don’t care about their fellow human beings (or anything else we share the planet universe with). The world needs more people who know how to effectively channel their energy into strategies that work. Refusing to listen to feedback or care about things is not an effective strategy.

“But I’ve been told not to care what others think or say about me!”, you say.

There is a big difference between not letting what others say about you have control over your sense of self-worth, and simply not caring what people say at all.

And there is a big difference between listening to feedback & compromising yourself to meet other people’s expectations, and listening to feedback, considering it, and moving ahead still confident in who you are and what you believe.

“Listen, smile, agree, and then do whatever the fuck you were gonna do anyway.” – Robert Downey Jr.

Listening to and being receptive to feedback is an important life skill and vital to being an effective communicator. (But so is knowing your environment and your audience — ie. youtube, Reddit, Xbox live…)

For example, if all you get is negative feedback about your attitude or behavior, then this may be a sign that there may be room for improvement in some aspect of how you handle things. If you keep finding yourself in similar negative situations with different people, employers, or relationships, then this may be a sign that the problem is not an external one.

This is sometimes evidenced by people who declare that they hate drama — and yet they are responsible for being attracted to or inviting into their lives the drama that they say they hate so much.

Another example, just because you don’t mean to hurt people’s feelings, but you inexplicably find yourself doing it over and over doesn’t mean it’s not your problem. It may be a sign that you are unaware of something you are doing and that you could easily improve upon if you chose to acknowledge it.

We can only experience freedom in direct proportion to the amount of truth that we are willing to accept without running away.” — Robert Anthony

I’m not suggesting you should change for others or try to please everyone. I’m suggesting that if you are consistently causing issues that you don’t intend to, then that may be something worth taking a look at if you truly are open to improving things about yourself.

No one is perfect. We are all works-in-progress. And there is always room for improvement.

Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck.” – Joss Whedon

Sometimes we are so blind to our own behaviors — because we judge ourselves based on our intentions, not our actions — that we don’t realize when we suck. That’s when we actually need feedback from people to alert us to the things we are unaware of.

Most of the people who inconvenience others in the world don’t walk around thinking, “Yeah, I’m a sucky person.” On the contrary, they likely don’t realize that they are exactly the type of person they don’t want to be because they’ve learned to not give a damn about anything by ignoring negative feedback and giving positive feedback too much weight.

They’ve also never taken a good long look at themselves or what kind of affect — or inconvenience — they have on those around them. They might disregard feedback they’ve gotten with, “Well, I don’t care if people don’t like me.”

While you should, by no means, try to be liked by everyone, being likable matters in life:

Being likable, connecting with others, and forming relationships — whether it’s with an individual or an audience — is an integral part of being successful in life.

And being liked can have a direct impact on your health, your wealth, your general level of happiness, and how effective you are at achieving goals. (from Likability. Being liked and unliked)

And caring about things matters in life, too. The desire to make the world a better place doesn’t come from apathy. It often comes from discontent and a desire to fill a void or solve a problem.

“Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress.” — Thomas Edison

It’s not people who don’t care that change the world. It’s people who do. And they care so much about something that their intense focus on whatever is within their power to change results in the whole world being affected.

The answer isn’t to stop giving a damn about everything.

The answer is to stop trying to have control over things you can’t change and to instead focus on those that you can. The answer is to not let the actions or words of others control your emotions. The answer is to develop strength from discomfort. The answer is to believe in yourself.

By all means, care about things, but learn to let go of those things you have no control of (or no desire to).

Did someone cut you off, cut in line in front of you, fail to hold a door for you? By all means, care about these things, but learn an effective way to deal with them and to let go of those that don’t have any solution. Complaining? That’s not a solution.

In the end, regardless of the feedback you get in life, none of it has to bother you unless you choose to let it (See: You are not a book and why that matters). The point is, you should be able to accept feedback without leaving your sense of self-worth and well-being in the hands of others.

Allowing yourself to be open is a sign of confidence, and it’s a strength that will get you much further in life, and provide you with the ability to weather more storms, than simply pretending that storms don’t exist.

Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.” — Kahlil Gibran

Some steps and questions for dealing with what life throws your way:

  1. What can I learn from this?
  2. Can I do anything about this? Is this with my power to change?
  3. Evaluate. If yes, is it something I actually want to change? (If no, then move on).
  4. React (or don’t react) accordingly.
  5. Move on.

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Related:

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Playing the game of life.

Everyday we have an opportunity to make our lives fun or exciting simply by using our imagination or changing how we look at things.

Those who constantly rely on external sources to be entertained or amused are missing out on one of life’s greatest cost-free pleasures.

Not only does relying on external sources create and reinforce the illusion that you need someone or something outside of you to be happy, it distances us from one of the most powerful tools we have:

IMAGINATION.

As Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

Children who haven’t grown up relying on TV or video games to be amused use their imagination often. A box, a tube, or a stick become can create entire worlds and keep them occupied for hours.

Children instinctively use their imagination throughout their development. Often to their own delight and the delight of those around them. The fact is, most people enjoy watching others, even animals, in the act of play.

Nowadays, it appears more and more adults rely more on being entertained than finding ways to entertain themselves. Even seeking knowledge can be fun (and extremely beneficial), and yet many lose countless hours of their lives watching mindless television. It’s not that there isn’t a place for this, but to do this excessively is to miss out on other more rewarding, and certainly more creative, experiences of life.

One is never too old to play. Those who scoff at the idea fail to realize that play is often associated with one of the primary contributing factors of staying youthful.

As a wise person once said, “You don’t stop doing things because you get old. You get old because you stop doing things.”

Life can be a fun adventure any moment of any day simply by changing how you look at it.

To be a passive player in the game of life is to miss out on many of the amazing experiences life has to offer.

Life can be an adventure, any moment of any day, simply by changing how you look at it. You, above anyone else, is in control of how you see the world and how you live in it.

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You can’t measure love

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You can’t measure love. You can’t measure the impact you have on a person’s life. You can’t measure imagination or knowledge or creativity. You can’t measure an instinct or a gut feeling. You can’t measure synchronicity or serendipity. You can’t measure a memory.

You can’t measure some of the most important things that matter most in the world. And yet, this has no impact on the tremendous impact they have on our lives.

Not everything needs to be measured to be valued. And many of the best things can’t be.

Be your own champion when no one else will.

You won’t always get the support you want. Your ideas will often be rejected or criticized before they are accepted. Your goals may seem unreasonable or impractical to others.

If this is ever the case, remember this: Sometimes you just have to suck it up and be your own champion when no one else will.

Do this — instead of quitting — and you will accomplish great things. Not because others believe in you, but because you believe in yourself.

Related:

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Why “follow your passion” is NOT bad career advice.

I recently read an article on the Huffington Post called, “Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Bad Career Advice“.

And while I do agree that “Follow your passion” may be considered “bad career advice” if one chooses to follow it without any bit of common sense — or to follow it without any regard to all the other factors necessary to make a career “successful” — being successful in one’s life can mean any number of different things to different people.

Some people consider their careers successful when they make X amount of money per year. Others measure their success by how many people they are in charge of, or how broad a territory they cover, or how many stores they own. Others aim to leave a legacy behind.

And then there are others still, who consider themselves successful if they are simply able to pursue what they are most passionate about in life while making just enough money to meet their basic needs to afford them the luxury of doing more of what they love.

And as Confucius said, Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Alan Watts poses the question (in this video), “What would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?” because to do anything other than that sets you up to, “Spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.”

I think he makes a very good point. The alternative to not pursuing your passion is to spend a life following a vicious cycle of doing things you don’t want to do to make a living doing things you don’t want to do.

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” — Seth Godin

In his commencement speech at Kenyon College in May 1990, Calvin & Hobbes creator, Bill Watterson, had this to say about careers:

“Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential — as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.

You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.

To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.” – Bill Watterson

As such, I don’t think “Follow your passion” is bad career advice at all. And if one is simply looking for a problem with it, as the Huffington Post appears to be, then I would say that problem — if you can call it that — is simply this:

It isn’t complete career advice. It’s only a single step in a larger process.

Step 1, of course, is to discover what it is you are passionate about.

This isn’t necessarily as simple as it sounds. There may be many things you like to do, but nothing that you are particularly passionate about. There is a big difference between simply enjoying something and being so into it at times that doing anything else feels like a distraction. Eating, sleeping, bathing? They can wait!

While a rare few know exactly what they want to do from a very early age, most don’t discover the things we are truly passionate about until they stumble upon them. And then, whatever it may be, the process of doing it becomes enthralling.

“Many people fail to find their passion because they either fail to search methodically or search persistently. Some will simply not commit the time and energy to a search that can often be frustrating. In fact, they want their “destiny” to find them; they do not want to find it themselves. You cannot find your passion idly staring into space, hoping for it to appear as a revelation, from one book, article, blog posting or casual conversation.” — Larry Smith

Discovering what you are truly passionate about is important is because people who truly love what they do tend to want to do it to the best of their ability and continually find ways to improve — all the while enjoying the process.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” — Steve Jobs

See also: How will you recognize your passion when you encounter it?

Step 2, after discovering your passion is to pursue that passion and hone your skills. All the while keeping the third step of this process in mind:

Step 3, is to use your passion and skills to create something that others desire and will pay for.

Because unless your passion fulfills a need, you can work night and day and never do enough to generates a sustainable income, let alone a viable career.

A sustainable career is built upon the ability to show that you can fill a need that someone is willing to pay for.” – Monique Valcour

This is why it can be to your benefit to not quit your day job (as I did, for example) while you are still in the process of discovering how your passion will generate income.

See also: You might have to look for more than one passion

“Doing what you love is as important as ever, but if you’re going to make a living at it, it helps to find a niche where money flows as a regular consequence of the success of your idea. Loving what you do is almost as important as doing what you love, especially if you need to make a living at it. Go find a job you can commit to, a career or a business you can fall in love with.” — Seth Godin

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Neil Gaiman Describe Vision & Brilliance

“If everyone had the luxury to pursue a life of exactly what they love, we would all be ranked as visionary and brilliant. … If you got to spend every day of your life doing what you love, you can’t help but be the best in the world at that. And you get to smile every day for doing so. And you’ll be working at it almost to the exclusion of personal hygiene, and your friends are knocking on your door, saying, “Don’t you need a vacation?!,” and you don’t even know what the word “vacation” means because what you’re doing is what you want to do and a vacation from that is anything but a vacation — that’s the state of mind of somebody who’s doing what others might call visionary and brilliant.” — Neil deGrasse Tyson

Related:

“You have to be burning with “an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right.” If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.” — Steve Jobs

Article: Why "Follow your passion" is not bad career advice. (click through to read)

Help stamp out rampant complaining.

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The fact that you’ve probably never enjoyed listening to anyone else complain is a pretty solid sign that no one enjoys listening to you do it either.

Help stamp out rampant complaining.

Always focus on solutions and what is within your power to change.

Even just changing your message from, “This is a problem!” to “This is a problem and I want to fix it.” changes your tone, implies there is a real purpose for your message, and invites a discussion for solutions.

Related:

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Contrast is good

You may not always like what’s happening in your life, but nothing provides a person with as much potential appreciation for the high points in life as the lows.

Everything we experience in life helps provide us with the perspective necessary to better be able to handle whatever comes next.

When one learns to appreciate contrast in life and accepts challenges as learning experiences they begin to see the value in all life experiences, not just the “good” ones.

Related:

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Setting the table of your life.

“Emptiness which is conceptually liable to be mistaken for sheer nothingness is, in fact, the reservoir of infinite possibilities.” — D.T. Suzuki

Aristotle once said, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” I’d like to suggest that human nature does, too.

Isn’t it true that whenever many of us see an absence of something in our personal environment or our lives — and we have the means to fill it — we often do so reflexively?

We just see a space and decide that something needs to be there.

“That table needs a plant.” “That room needs a rug.” “That wall needs a picture.”

Not only are our outer environments filling up with more and more of the sort of “stuff” that we don’t necessarily need, our inner environments are, too.

How often — when we find ourselves without something we want in life — do we automatically (and perhaps unconsciously) fill that “void” with a sense of “lack” or “negativity”?

And sometimes that negativity manifests itself as a bad habit or a reflexive negative thought process? (At least until you’ve retrained your brain)

Have you ever witnessed or experienced something along the lines of:

“I didn’t get what I wanted! That stinks! I never get what I want — and this is just more proof of that.”

Or…

“I didn’t get what I wanted — or what I wanted didn’t happen — so it doesn’t matter what I do! I might as well just [ insert some potentially harmful or high-risk activity ]!”

Our tendency to do and think things like this has the potential to make things worse by not creating (or allowing) the type of environment where the kinds of things we want in our lives feel “welcome” (or are attracted enough) to appear.

For example, if you’ve been single for a while, you may begin to lose hope that you’ll ever find the person you’re searching for (or that they’ll find you). So perhaps you get a little bitter or it makes you sad when you see other couples together. Or maybe just frustrated.

However these negative thoughts & feelings manifest themselves in your life, it not only doesn’t solve your “problem”, it doesn’t project the kind of message that makes you attractive to whatever it is you strive for.

It’s almost like we react to things in a way that puts a sign over our head that says: “Sad, bitter, and frustrated person here! Do not approach!”

When, instead, the message we most likely want to convey with our being is: “Kind and loving individual ready for love! Welcome!”

As such, it’s important to make sure that whatever message you are projecting to the world is congruent with the message you wish to express.

If you want more positive things in your life — losing hope that you’ll ever get them and becoming bitter or negative is self-defeating. Rather than leave yourself open to infinite possibilities, filling this formerly “available space” with negativity makes it much more difficult for something positive to come along and take up residency.

Perhaps it’s time to take inventory in your life.

Are you holding onto tired old thoughts or negative feelings that are keeping other positive thoughts, feelings, and possibilities from feeling welcome?

This is old baggage and you don’t need it.

Holding onto baggage any longer than is necessary for you to “process” and learn from it means that it’s simply sitting there taking up the space that positive stuff might if it had the room.

The moment you begin to ditch the negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions in your life is the moment you begin to leave room for positive ones.

Perhaps it helps if you think of it as setting the table of your life:

Imagine you’re sitting at the head of a large table. Nearly all of the chairs are filled. You have some great “guests” — whom you adore. And this is exactly what you want!

But you’ve also got a few that you just sort of found back when you had a lot of empty seats — and so you figured it’d be better to fill your seats than leave them vacant. And now these guests just sit there at your table — gloomy and depressed.

And every now and then one of them does or says something that is completely counter to the mood and environment that you’re trying to create.

No one really wants to associate with these guests. And no one who’s sitting at your table really knows why they are there. But they’re your guests — and it’s easy enough to ignore them most of the time — so no one says anything.

You don’t particularly like these negative guests, but since you’ve always had a few empty seats, you’ve never thought about asking them to leave because who wants to have a “party” with only a few guests and a lot of empty seats.

You’d love to fill these empty seats with more of the types of guests you adore, but it becomes clear that no one else wants to join you at your table because your unwelcome guests are creating an unattractive atmosphere.

So how do you solve this problem?

Well, as Robert Tew says, “Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.”

Keep the guests you adore, but give your unwelcome guests the boot.

Retire your tired old thoughts and feelings. “Reset your table” and then resist the urge to fill the empty spaces.

In time, with your positive guests in place and your negative guests gone,  the magnetic nature of the empty seats — and your refreshed attitude — will naturally attract more of the types guests you want in your life.

In other words:

Create an environment in yourself and your life where good things feel welcome, and good things will come.

“In many a piece of music, it’s the pause or the rest that gives the piece its beauty and its shape. And I know I, as a writer, will often try to include a lot of empty space on the page so that the reader can complete my thoughts and sentences and so that her imagination has room to breathe.” — Pico Iyer

“Become totally empty. Quiet the restlessness of the mind. Only then will you witness everything unfolding from emptiness.” –Lao Tzu

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” — Rumi

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"Create an environment in yourself and your life where good things feel welcome, and good things will come."

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