How Hard Are You Trying?

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It’s technically not 2017, yet, but I wanted to get a jump start on the 2017 Book Club anyway with the first title, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a f–k by Mark Manson. I’m also cheating in that it’s not Monday, January 1st.

In the first chapter of this New York Times Bestseller, Manson asks how hard are we trying? There’s something to be said about the more effort and energy you exert in order to please others, make sure we wear the right clothes, have the right car, buy the right things, is nuts!

You are constantly bombarded with messages to give a f–k about everything, all the time .Give a f–k about a new TV. Give a f–k about having a better vacation than your coworkers. Give a f–k about buying that new lawn ornament. Give a f–k about having the right kind of selfie stick. Why? My guess: because giving a f–k about more stuff is good for business.

Thinking about that for a moment made me realize out of all the times I cared more about something than was healthy or warranted, it was about stuff. I’m guilty of this as much as the next person. I spent my Black Friday this year buying a TV that was both too big and to fancy for my needs, but I wanted it and I felt like I had to have it.

Do I regret the purchase? No. If I cared less about making sure it was exactly nice enough or that it was top of the line, I’d bet that I’d either have not bought it or spent way less money and still have been just as happy in the long run.

I consider myself lucky that I’m not as vanity-oriented as some folks, and I think a lot of that has to do with my upbringing. I never had a lot of things, and was never taught things were a status symbol. This mindset extends into my adult life and I’m happy about that.

Another thing that really sunk in while reading this first chapter in our quest to be happier, we’re actually making ourselves more miserable.

The desire for more [a] more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.

This came up while talking with a friend last night, completely out of band from this book but I think is great to mention here. The fact that we so intensely seek attention and affirmation from those around us only adds weight to the fact that we’re not as happy as we think we are. Any Facebook status, Twitter post, Instagram picture, Snapchat snap that essentially implies here is a thing I am doing/saying, tell me how cool/fun/exciting/delicious it is! is really just a single example of this hunt for happiness that people get caught up in.

Be real with yourself. If you’re fishing for compliments, you’ll find two crowds: the first will give you what you want because some people will always, no matter what. The second will just ignore you. In the long run, the latter group is probably the better kind of people to surround yourself with in life, as the former is likely just as willing to hunt for artificial interest as you.