In today’s noisy world, choosing what to care about is important.
Our brain neurons still keep sending messages even when we want to stop thinking. Sometimes, it is impossible to control our thoughts.
We hang out with our friends on a Wednesday evening or a Saturday night. We listen to music or Netflix or drink — to take our mind off things we do not want to think about, anymore.
Imagine — if we could be in that chill phase all the time. If we could block the redundant noise.
We think about two kinds of things:
- The ones that are important
- And the ones that are not
Unimportant things cloud our mind like the winter fog. Except that they never clear out even when the sun shines out our window.
Here is some of the fog that we can lift.
1. Whose mistake was it? Who was wrong?
A friend lost his temper with me when our hotel booking got canceled. He should not have.
What can we do about it now?
Look at the other person’s circumstance. He plans his vacations a month before and losing out on a booking might be a big deal for him.
Everyone knows and does everything differently.
Put your point across. But do not probe this wound repeatedly. It increases negativity within you. What has happened, has happened. Move on.
Keep a check on yourself — it is just making you feel better by putting someone down?
We are human and as long as we live — we are going to make mistakes. Don’t be ridiculously startled by how could someone do it.
2. Was he fair? Am I being fair?
I call her every weekend but she never shows up. It is not fair. My parents turned my room into a storage, it is not fair. I was fired, it is not fair. Why did not they manage their workforce better?
We try to justify our and other’s actions.
The idea of fairness is subjective. Everything does not have a fair or an unfair dimension. Some things are situational.
3. Doing everything at the right age
I am 30 and unmarried. In India, this combination is still uncommon, especially if we come from a middle-class, small-town background.
I live happily and work.
Don’t contemplate excessively about the right age. As long as you know what works out for you, go for it. Minimize redundantly worrying about your decision.
4. How could they say that or what would they think or say?
Hey, you cannot even control your thoughts. How are someone else’s thoughts something you have to or can take care of?
My flatmates were forcing me to get dinner made so that they did not have to work out the cook payment. I wondered for many days that how can someone make an issue out of something so personal — whether you want dinner or not.
I had forgotten about the irrationality of human beings.
Believe in reasonability which means you have to be aware of irrationality.
Anyone can do or think or say anything. Don’t delve into the reasons for their actions. There might not be any logical reason. Spend your energy on moving on rather than on the why’s.
Take out anything not under your control out of your thought process.
Clothes are falling out of our wardrobes and laundry bags. But we still care if Zara has a discount or if the latest summer collection is launched yet.
If you let it, shopping — a short-term gratification — can easily become an obsession. It is just another way of spending money and time.
Buy what you need.
6. Which is the latest gadget or Android or IOS version out there?
Remember the long queue outside the Apple stores the day new iPhone is released? There are virtual queues for new versions of many phones, tablets, computers, gaming devices, remote controllers, and speakers and whatnot.
While checking out my phone, a friend informed me that I was still on Android 5 while version 8 was already out. Everyone assumes that I have an old black block of a phone because I don’t want to spend money. All friends have asked if it works fine or that I can get it exchanged.
It is a point of conversation — how is your phone? It’s a relationship in which the boyfriend is known to be abusive so they keep asking you to dump him.
Frankly, I do not care as long as the phone works.
Take out the value of a device in which you have invested money. Don’t buy an expensive phone and keep replacing it with the latest just because you can. Don’t let consumerism feed on you. If there are new versions out but the old one suffices your purpose — then what is the point? If you are a photographer and a pixel improvement matters, I can still understand. But most of the times it is just social pressure. You don’t need to fall for it.
Devices are to be used and not vice versa.
7. What is the internet gossip?
Who said what? Which video was launched? Which celebrity bitch about which one? Most of it does not affect us directly or indirectly. But we let it.
Don’t let anything — which does not add any value — become part of your life.
8. Winning an argument. Being right. Getting the last say.
In this Ted talk, an Indian actor Sumeet Vyas said that it took him fifteen years to be noticed as an actor and during all that time a lot of people advised him. He kept listening to them while keeping quiet and doing what he wanted to do.
What would change if you win an argument or have the last say? Here it could have been an argument about what was right for him.
If you make it — everything becomes an argument.
Some arguments are needed to set the right expectations or manner of life — such as — please don’t leave the toilet seat wet. Other person says he did not and how does it matter. You catch him red-handed and win that argument which concludes in a dry toilet seat.
But not all arguments. Everyone is going to think about the same thing differently. In your mind you are right, and they are not. But by winning that argument, you cannot change their point of view. Let us say you believe in gay rights but your friend does not. Tell him that the question of inequality should not even be there. But winning that argument, in that moment, is not going to change how he thinks. Instead, a calm conversation might make him listen more.
The right way to put your point across is by expressing your opinion and then let the other person speak. If you get hell-bent on an aggressive discussion and winning the argument, they are more likely to disagree with you.
The need for being right shows vulnerability and that you need approval from others for your opinions. But above all, it makes you restless.
I have spent years getting over all my breakups. Those people were long gone from my life. But we let our emotions define ourselves in those moments or months and years.
After moving on, you generally feel that it was good that it happened. But during, we feel miserable. Minimize this misery as much as you can, it is not worth it. Allow your friends to surround you. Let your consciousness create a different reality — which does not include your ex.
You can live without anyone so ‘I can’t live without you’ is not a real thing.
Remember this at your next break up.
10. What if we fail? Are we going in the right direction?
Remember the cliche: if you never try, you have already failed.
Meryl Streep kept going for auditions even when someone rejected her by saying that she was ugly. Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film, and Television — thrice.
I can go on and on.
A lot of successful people achieve what they did by not caring about the result. If you keep thinking about the results, the journey gets bumpy. Just do what you have to do.
It is important to ask if we are going in the right direction once in a while — to keep a check on us — but waking up every day with this thought is not healthy. Believe in your decision and review every couple of months or so.
And so what if you failed? Many people are waiting to tell you, see we told you so. Don’t take it personally. We care about our ego too much. Ego is not real.
Failures and success are parts of life and they come and go. Don’t make them anything more than that. Don’t let them define you.
As long as you have a medical insurance and you make some savings every month — you should be good to go. What is to be done with the rest? It makes more money and then all of that together makes more, and then what? If your ambition is to buy a Ferrari and a big beach house, it is okay.
Earning as much as you can is not the best option — just because everyone thinks so. Earn as per your need and wish and don’t compromise on other aspects of your life. Remember, money is not a real entity, it is something humans invented for transactional purposes. Keep the purpose intact.
12. Losing out
What if I do not go to this party on Friday and sit and work on this idea? But they are drinking and having so much fun? What would my friends say? Would I be left out wasting time on this hopeless idea?
You are not losing out on anything as long as you are at ease. We do not necessarily have to do the same things other people are doing to make the best of time. You might be losing out because you are thinking about losing out.
13. Pleasing people
It is a personality trait that exists in the nooks and corners of almost each of us.
But it costs peace, time, and energy. What do you get in return?
People are not machines. There are ways to please them but they are still going to react sporadically. They might like you but a change in any one factor, out of the hundreds that define human behavior, might bring you back to square one.
If you emotionally start depending on others approval or liking for you, it is going to be a problem when they don’t.
Avoid feeding on this energy — people like you and then you want to please them even more. Whenever you find yourself pleasing people, out of the bounds of good behavior, ask yourself, what would change if he likes me?
More importantly, what would change if he does not like me?
14. Jealousy. Judgements. Proving ourselves better.
How could he get promoted within five years of his corporate career? I am sure he was done favors. She is so fit but I think she is having an affair with her instructor. They went on a vacation to New Zealand but they do not even pay their workers.
We judge everything and anything. Social media aids us.
This gossip does not add any value. It makes us feel better, momentarily. But overall, it leads to jealousy, negativity, and unhappiness.
Shed off jealousy. Instead, get inspired. If another human could do it, you can too. And don’t forget — you might not even care for those things.
15. Am I happy?
It is not an activity. Don’t worry and don’t make it one.
Life is an ocean and happiness should be its salt, always dissolved in it, inseparable.
The points you remember tomorrow would be the ones that you care too much about. Take care of them.