The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Damn
How to live life intentionally without worrying about other people’s feelings. It’s like trying to revive a dead plant — painful, but possible.
We are full of excuses.
I wanted to make it to the post office today, but it was too cold to leave the house.
I wish I could learn how to cook, but I don’t have any time.
I want to see my friends more often, but I don’t have the money to visit them.
There is always a solution to our “problems,” even if it seems far-fetched, or even impossible. Per the examples provided, put a coat on, trade in your Netflix watching for perfecting your culinary skills, and set money aside every paycheck until you have enough to buy a plane ticket.
Most often, the answer to our complaints is right in front of our faces. We just choose to look the other way because “I can’t possibly give up my Orange Is The New Black addiction.”
If you really want to learn how to cook, you would. And if you really want to keep in touch with your friends, you would.
Living is a Privilege, And If You Aren’t Taking Advantage Of That Privilege, You’re Smacking The Universe In The Face
Settling into my 29th year of life here on Earth, I’m realizing life is all about prioritizing. Or more specifically, choosing to prioritize certain things over others.
As my priorities drastically shifted upon birthing a human (going from socialite status to stay/work/clean-at-home-mom status), my social circle dwindled as my motherly instincts kicked in, causing my list of concerns to be revolved around keeping a baby (and a relationship and a house) alive, happy and healthy, instead of worrying about which rooftop party looked the most enticing.
This was quite the shift. A shift that made me feel guilty for not spending time with my friends because that was such a huge part of my life at that time, and I didn’t know how to cope with something that made me sick with guilt and regret — even though I knew I was doing the right thing.
Looking at this concept in terms of our day-to-day decisions, choosing to wake up on a Sunday to seize the day getting ahead of my to-do list so I can enjoy my week ahead rather than dread it, instead of sleeping in and watching movies all day = prioritizing long-term happiness over short-term pleasure.
Do you see the difference?
Learning To Let Go Of The Trivial In Order To Love Your Life
Recently finishing a book I highly recommend to everyone, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, I have been awakened to the power that caring less about every little thing (Is my mom going to feel left out if I don’t invite her on a shopping trip?), and more about the actually important things (My kid feeling loved, or myself feeling happy even when that makes others upset with me), truly holds for our happiness, our sanity and our fulfillment — in any and every area of our lives.
One of the most powerful takeaways from the book I received was this:
Author Mark Manson (every so craftily) says that everything — literally, everything — that we do in life — comes with some sort of sacrifice. Even if that something is landing our dreamiest of dream jobs or winning the lottery.
What’s the sacrifice with those two things, you ask? If you landed your ideal job, maybe it’s taking up the precious time you used to spend with your family and friends. If you win the lottery, people may treat you differently because they’re jealous.
Every good thing that happens to us in our lives comes with some bad. And every bad thing that happens to us in our lives comes with some good.
But we confuse the sacrifice with something (work, relationship, etc.) that just isn’t working out. And so, we quit.
This made so much sense to me because that is how I was living so much of my life, especially in terms of work. “The money’s great, but I work every weekend. I can’t live like that.” “Being able to work anywhere I want to is incredible, but I’m so lonely. I need to find something else.”
Instead of looking at the bigger picture / end goal, I was only looking at the short-term and the feelings that accompanied it. My thought process was “If I’m not having fun or enjoying my work (or my life in general), I’m not going to continue to do it. End of story.”
There was no strategy. Just the simple (and stupid) equation that if any aspect of work didn’t equal enjoyment or fulfillment, I was out. I was missing the middle part. I had the beginning down — I’m good at this and it makes me feel productive and worthy — and also the end part — Life’s too short for this bullshit — but I was missing the middle part. The “taking the good with the bad,” referred to here as The Sacrifice.
Here’s a hypothetical: You want to move to California but are hesitating to do so because your parents view that as you being self-centered, only thinking about yourself and taking their grandchildren away from them.
What happens in Scenario 1: You stick close to home out of fear people will think you’re selfish, irresponsible and ungrateful. As a result, you’re unhappy with your life, constantly thinking about what life could have been, and inevitably end up resenting your parents for guilting you in to doing something that wasn’t just making you unhappy — it was making you miserable.
What happens in Scenario 2: You flee to California with your own family, aka your husband/partner and children, and begin an exciting new life where the sun shines all of the damn time, as you fulfill your calling of being surrounded by nature and people who care about keeping the planet safe, clean and thriving.
This is the whole idea of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. The message is not to disregard other people and their feelings, but to properly manage expectations to prevent miscommunication and arguments as best as possible — always keeping your best interest at heart.
Putting your own wants and desires before anyone else’s isn’t selfish. It’s smart. If you’re constantly worried about what your in-laws will think of you pursuing a career they don’t understand or leading an organization they don’t agree with, who is that benefitting if you forgo what you believe in just because someone else doesn’t get it? You aren’t living your uncle Rick’s life. You’re living your life. And you only get one.
And Then You Die
His last chapter is perfectly titled, “And Then You Die.”
Sometimes I still feel like I am in that naive (read: stupid) space I was in when I was a teenager who thought that death was something that only happened to other people.
The Point Is…
We have to remember that we are going to die someday. And we don’t know when that day will be. So the next time you get all anxious about your boss potentially getting mad at you for a mistake you made, remember what’s actually important in life, and be thankful you have a job to go to every day. The next time you complain about how hard a workout class was, be thankful you have a working body that can move.
As a wise (and hot!) fitness coach told me awhile back, “Working out is a privilege.”
And so, I apply that way of thinking to everyday “frustrations” like waiting in line to fill your car up with gas or being denied your grocery coupon because it’s past the expiration date. Ridiculous things that people complain about — like their Amazon package not arriving when it should have — should be the absolute least of our worries.
Your Amazon package will be here tomorrow. You might not be. Think about that.
Thanks for reading!