It’s a peaceful philosophy that emphasizes non-attachment and the art of letting go.
But have you considered that it might be able to help you not give a f*ck?
Yep, by practicing some simple Zen philosophies, you’ll be able to let go of little things that don’t matter so you can focus on what really does.
First, What Not Giving a F*ck Really Means
I’ve been reluctant to use the phrase “not give a f*ck” as it can be associated with a reckless teen that values nothing and wouldn’t bat an eyelid to wrongdoing.
But that’s not what we’re talking about here.
Zen Buddhism is a peaceful philosophy that emphasizes compassion and kindness to all sentient beings.
By opening our heart and mind to others, we can see the goodness in everyone, which in turn will bring out the good in us.
According to Buddhists, what goes around comes around. So if you want to be treated with respect and compassion, you should do the same for others.
(To learn more about Karma and how it can help you live a better life, click here)
Opening your heart to others will allow you to stop reacting negatively. You’ll be at peace with other people because you’ll see the positive energy in others, and in turn, you’ll be less likely to care if they do something that’s annoying.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – The Dalai Lama
The Art of Letting Go
The first noble truth of Buddhism is that desiring leads to suffering.
These desires can vary from material objects, sensual pleasures or even your relationships. The reason desiring causes suffering is that attachments are transient and loss is inevitable.
Buddhism says that the only constant in the universe is change, and by desiring you are trying to control and make things fixed.
Suffering will follow because you are going against the forces of the universe, which is what causes anxiety, depression and negative emotions.
This is put rather eloquently by Buddhist Yuval Noah Harari, who explains why we suffer due to the pursuit of pleasure:
“According to Buddhism, the root of suffering is neither the feeling of pain nor of sadness nor even of meaninglessness. Rather, the real root of suffering is this never-ending and pointless pursuit of ephemeral feelings, which causes us to be in a constant state of tension, restlessness and dissatisfaction. Due to this pursuit, the mind is never satisfied. Even when experiencing pleasure, it is not content, because it fears this feeling might soon disappear, and craves that this feeling should stay and intensify. People are liberated from suffering not when they experience this or that fleeting pleasure, but rather when they understand the impermanent nature of all their feelings, and stop craving them.” – Yuval Noah Harari
The trick is to focus your mind on the present moment and bask in the glory of now.
By doing this, you’ll be able to let go of the pursuit of pleasure and simply enjoy the experience of the present moment.
You’ll be able to more easily let go of the little things that don’t matter.
According to Master Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh, the most important practice is to learn to not grasp at things in an attempt to create a “future condition of happiness”.
“Worrying does not accomplish anything. Even if you worry twenty times more, it will not change the situation of the world. In fact, your anxiety will only make things worse. Even though things are not as we would like, we can still be content, knowing we are trying our best and will continue to do so. If we don’t know how to breathe, smile,and live every moment of our life deeply, we will never be able to help anyone. I am happy in the present moment. I do not ask for anything else. I do not expect any additional happiness or conditions that will bring about more happiness. The most important practice is aimlessness, not running after things, not grasping.”
(To learn more about mindfulness and techniques to live in the present moment, check out our best-selling eBook on the art of mindfulness here).
The Art of Non-Attachment
In a similar fashion, by relying on outside forces to control our emotions, we’re not truly happy inside ourselves.
Buddhist’s say that to be truly content, we need to find inner peace.
And if we have true inner peace, then no matter our circumstances, we will be content and happy.
The best way to get comfortable with ourselves is to practice non-attachment.
Many people get the philosophy of detachment wrong.
They think it means involves avoiding life and negative emotions.
However, people who have mastered non-attachment avoid getting entangled in negative emotions and negative thoughts. Instead, they acknowledge, accept and even embrace them.
Non-attachment is about learning to let go of thoughts and emotions that create suffering.
Once we stop being attached to our thoughts and emotions, we can experience relief and inner peace.
It’s about learning not to stifle our emotions but to let them rise naturally and dissolve on their own.
We need to understand that change is the only constant in the universe and that no matter how uncomfortable a negative feeling is, it will eventually pass.
While it takes time and effort to practice this concept, all of us are capable of practicing acceptance.
Mitch Albom explains why accepting your emotions allows you to detach:
“Take any emotion—love for a woman, or grief for a loved one, or what I’m going through, fear and pain from a deadly illness. If you hold back on the emotions—if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them—you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief. You’re afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails. “But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your head even, you experience them fully and completely. You know what pain is. You know what love is. You know what grief is. And only then can you say, ‘All right. I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment’.”
The question is: How can we practice acceptance and non-attachment?
According to Yuval Noah Harari, it’s about learning to observe the mind and body so we can acknowledge what we’re feeling and thinking without becoming attached to it:
“This is the aim of Buddhist meditation practices. In meditation, you are supposed to closely observe your mind and body, witness the ceaseless arising and passing of all your feelings, and realise how pointless it is to pursue them. When the pursuit stops, the mind becomes very relaxed, clear and satisfied. All kinds of feelings go on arising and passing – joy, anger, boredom, lust – but once you stop craving particular feelings, you can just accept them for what they are. You live in the present moment instead of fantasising about what might have been. The resulting serenity is so profound that those who spend their lives in the frenzied pursuit of pleasant feelings can hardly imagine it.” – Yuval Noah Harari
(To learn more about non-attachment and how to practice it, check out our guide to non-attachment here)
By practicing non-attachment and letting go, outside forces will be less likely to affect you.
While you’ll still give a f*ck when it matters, you’ll be able to let go of the little worries that offer no benefit to your life.
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