Let me wager a guess.
You care. A lot.
But the sad truth is that you care about the wrong things in life. And you care so deeply that it drives you crazy, decreasing your chances at true happiness.
Well, I say… no more!
Here are the 8 things to care about less if you want to be truly happy in life.
1) What strangers on the internet think of you
The online universe has taken our world by storm, and now more than ever, the opinions of strangers mean more to us than they should.
Does it really matter if everyone knows you only drink special coffee? Is the book that’s everywhere online really so good, or do you just want to participate in the hype?
When I was younger, I used to care about social media a great deal. I cared so much, in fact, that I went out of my way to visit “Instagrammable” locations, read books I knew others would approve of, and wear clothes that didn’t express the authentic me.
Just so I could snap a photo and post it online. Just so I could get likes.
But guess what? The more I cared about how I represented myself online, the vainer I became, and the less I did what I truly enjoyed.
At the end of the day, you don’t live on Instagram. You live in the here and now.
Take this as your sign to disconnect for a little bit.
2) How you look every second of every day
Speaking of becoming vain, caring about your appearance a little bit too much is a guaranteed way to dig yourself into hell.
Look, I’m not saying you shouldn’t care about how you look at all. Most people want to be attractive, clean, and fashionable in their own way, and that is completely normal.
But there’s a difference between looking after yourself and inspecting your face in every mirror you come across.
I like fashion. I like taking care of my hair, putting make-up on, and dressing up.
My friend is the same. But on top of all that, she is also so obsessed with her appearance that she spends hours picking outfits, comparing herself to other people on the internet, and overthinking her make-up choices.
And she is not happy. She spends so much time in her head, so much time thinking about her own body, that she completely forgets to enjoy the present moment for what it is.
So, go ahead and care about your appearance. But there comes a point when you’ve got to just… let go.
3) How quickly other people reach your dream destination
About ten years ago, I decided to become a writer. And I felt like I was already late to the race.
Yes, that’s how I thought of it. A race. I looked up my favorite authors and realized that they had been published at such and such age, and I thought of my writing journey as something that necessarily compared to theirs.
I felt like I was racing against time. If I didn’t publish a book by twenty-two, I wouldn’t be a young author anymore! If I didn’t become a literary star by thirty, what was I even doing with my life?!
Looking back, this whole mindset seems absolutely ridiculous, of course. But it’s actually something we tend to do a lot – when we decide to achieve something in life, we look up people who have already done it, and then we compare ourselves to them.
Or even worse, we compare ourselves to the people we know in real life and lament at how far behind we are.
But do you know when I stopped caring about when I’d get a book published or when I’d reach X and Y goals?
When I let go. When I decided to accept my journey as mine and mine only. When I realized that everything happened for a reason and that I was exactly where I was meant to be.
Don’t obsess over other people’s journeys. Become obsessed with yours.
4) How productive you are every day of the week
…well, it’s good to be obsessed with your journey, but not too much.
Because if you’re only focused on your results, you may push yourself way too hard.
And if you push too hard, you will burn out.
Therefore, always try your best to find the perfect balance.
Yes, productivity is amazing – but if it gets in the way of genuine happiness and peace, what good is it? After all, your goal in life is to be happy. If you don’t enjoy the journey toward your dream destination, most of your life will be spent feeling miserable.
You won’t be insanely productive every day of the week. You just won’t. You’re not a machine. But if you take proper breaks at the right intervals, you’ll find that your energy levels will be higher during the times when you do work, increasing the quality and quantity of what you do.
5) Which medals adorn your uniform
The time has come to talk about external accomplishments and social status.
It’s nice to be appreciated. It’s nice to be rewarded for your efforts. And I’m not saying you should shun your accomplishments or minimize your success.
Don’t become so enamored with other people’s approval that you will drive yourself mad trying to please everyone and get your hands on every single accomplishment you can think of just to elevate your “impressiveness” levels.
It’s fun to have a medal-adorned uniform. But at the end of the day, it’s just a few pieces of metal.
You are worth so much more.
6) What your future will look like
I’ll be the first person to say it’s important to have goals in life. Goals give you purpose. They give you something to aim for.
But the way you approach goal-setting is crucial. If you focus too much on what will be instead of on what is now, for example, you probably won’t be very happy most of the time.
What’s more, goals can change over time. You may be obsessing over a future where you’re a wealthy business owner right now, but in five years, you might realize that you actually don’t want to be a business owner at all and that you really want to work on a farm.
In short, it’s good to know the general direction in which your life is heading, but if you only ever think about a potential future, you won’t pay enough attention to the present.
7) What you did in the past
Caring about your past too much is the other side of the same coin – both the future and the past don’t exist in the real world. They are mental constructs made of memories and the imagination.
And if you pay them too much heed, you’ll forget that the reality is where you are right now.
You can’t change what you did in the past. You can’t turn back time. And if you have any regrets, they will keep eating you alive until you finally let go.
Instead, learn to look at your past self with the compassion you deserve. Realize that you know better now and that the past is the past. You have no control over it.
The present moment, though… you’re in charge.
8) Everything that you don’t have
This is something most of us are guilty of. We just care a little bit too much about things we don’t have and not enough about everything we’ve already been blessed with.
You have a great phone, but you keep thinking about the new model that’s just come out.
You live in an amazing apartment, but here you are, daydreaming about an apartment that looks even better than this one.
This is the problem with getting too attached to material objects. They never make you happy in the long run. As soon as the feeling of novelty wears off, there you are again, running toward another new shiny thing,
But today, try to do something else. Today, look around you and take notice of everything you already have. Take it in.
Ambition is fun, but sometimes… all you need to be happy is to appreciate what is, not what could be.