I was on a bit of a roll about the shit I'd learned since starting my quest to eliminate depression from my life, but then fucking Brock Turner and Orlando happened, and I had to put my two cents' in. I guess it's the perfect example of how even when you're just tryna keep yo head down and work on your own shit, the big ol' ugly world insists on intervening. I'd like to pick up where I left off though. Thus far, my life lessons have consisted of:
- You're gonna have to meditate.
- Work like a bastard to develop empathy.
- Do not park in your comfort zone.
- Get the hell off the internet.
- Control your smartphone; do not let it control you.
For my seventh entry in this series, I gotta talk about becoming a member of the Church of Zero Fucks. Put another way, you gotta figure out a way, in your own everyday life, not to give a shit about the stupid things. I cannot stress this enough.
Here's the thing y'all: we have become a soft, lazy, and entitled country of whiny bitches. When you think about it, when you see people losing their shit in public, it can all be distilled down to fucking comfort and entitlement. We've been conditioned, in this country, that if you have enough money, you can have anything you want, however you want it. It's moved well past Burger King's once-unique jingle of "have it your way." We are the country who asks for our coffees "extra-hot with two shots of caf, one shot of decaf." We are the country of "on the side." If you don't like the way an experienced chef has prepared the food, restaurants will let you swap out sauces, sides, cooking styles, etc. And if, god forbid, there's a chef out there that tells you "No. I prepared this with very specific flavor profiles in mind, and this is the best way to eat this," that chef will be raked across the coals on Yelp.
We are now used to getting whatever we want it, how we want it, and as quickly as is convenient for us. And when one or some of that combination doesn't happen, we feel like it's okay to pitch a fit---either in person or in an online forum. We feel as though it gives our needs, our experience, our satisfaction (or lack thereof) gravitas. It elevates our own sense of self worth, gives us a sense of "Oh yeah, just wait until you see what I said about you on Yelp"ishness that is, frankly, ugly, spoiled, and a bit Veruca Salty.
So when these little moments of comfort don't happen, we take it as a personal attack. "What do you MEAN you can't make my coffee exactly 180 degrees today?!?!" And then we feel so slighted by this inconvenience that we feel the need to then take to the internets and social media to complain about this slight.
I'm here to tell you all one very important thing: get over yourfuckingselves.
Listen, the sooner you come to the realization that the world doesn't have any obligation to conform to the way you think it should spin, the happier you will be. The sooner you realize that you are a control freak who has gotten so used to having your tires rotated, your nails sculpted, and your coochie groomed just so and that sometimes these helper-people will not say "how high?" when you say "jump" and that's okay, the better off you'll be.
I mean, listen, I know you've gotta take your petty victories where you can get them, okay? We're not all in the one percent---used to having our coifs fluffed, our asses wiped, our purebred dogs walked, our meals cooked, and our blows softened---so we grab our power where we can. We care about exerting power over baristas, checkers, street folks, servers, bartenders, people we have no vested interest in. We seek to feel important by showing our wrath to these everyday people.
I'm here to tell you: this is not The Way. In this way lies misery and unhappiness. If you are one of the people who finds yourself moving through life idling at "simmering rage," you are giving too many fucks. If you find yourself sitting in your cubicle at 10:30 in the morning, still thinking about that asshole who stole your parking space that morning, you are giving too many fucks. If you are spending your evenings arguing about politics with strangers on the internet, thinking you will change someone's mind, you are giving too many fucks. If you think the fact that your coffeeshop is out of your favorite kind of muffin is the universe's way of punishing you, you are giving too many fucks.
A tale of two Richards: one gives too many fucks about the wrong things;
one is a carefree, sassy sprite who follows his joy.
Look, I get it. Modern life is hard and we're all under a lot of stress. It takes an enormous amount of self-actualization sometimes not to take life's little inconveniences as personal affronts. I did it all the time; I still do. No amount of meditation is gonna get me to a place where I'm zen about every damn thing. It's just not gonna happen. But getting butthurt about things over which you have no control and/or that really don't matter is the emotional equivalent of a three-year-old child throwing themselves on the floor of the middle of Baskin Robbins because the bubblegum ice cream cone you just handed him was blue and not pink. Everyone in line hates that little shit.
Besides, wasting all of your rage on things that don't matter leaves your energy depleted for fighting things that DO matter. Politicians and CEOs use this tactic all the time: "Let's get everyone's dander up over this transgender bathroom thing; meanwhile, we'll pass Citizens United and no one will care." Or "Let's get everyone riled up over the fact that there will be no more free juice in the breakroom; meanwhile, we'll take away your dental care." If you're too tired from simply moving through your angry day, maybe you have less energy or are in a much worse mindset to play with your kids, cook dinner, spend time with your family---things that DO matter, things you SHOULD be giving a fuck about.
Look, I'm not always good at this. I still struggle not combat stupidity on a daily basis. But I just read this crazy-cool article about how the way you think actually physically changes your brain. Think about that for a mind-blowing second: this means your imagination can literally change your reality.
Is your mind blown yet? Because that's some seriously crazy shit. The article explains:
"Throughout your brain there is a collection of synapses separated by empty space called the synaptic cleft. Whenever you have a thought, one synapse shoots a chemical across the cleft to another synapse, thus building a bridge over which an electric signal can cross, carrying along its charge the relevant information you’re thinking about…Every time this electrical charge is triggered, the synapses grow closer together in order to decrease the distance the electrical charge has to cross. This is a microcosmic example of evolution, of adaptation. The brain is rewiring its own circuitry, physically changing itself, to make it easier and more likely that the proper synapses will share the chemical link and thus spark together–in essence, making it easier for the thought to trigger."
What this means is that, over time, if you continue to respond to stimuli in a certain way (negatively, for example), it becomes easier for your brain to make negative associations. You've literally trained your synapses for a go-to negative reaction rather than a positive one. Your brain, and what you do to it, literally shapes your reality. So by constantly allowing yourself to have negative reactions to the stimuli in your world, you are trapping your brain into a vicious fucks-giving cycle.
Sisyphus Butterfly needs to stop dragging that boulder, and so do you.
Bottom line is I've been much, much happier since I stop giving so many fucks. The things we view as irritations and inconveniences are such bullshit anyway. On your deathbed are you gonna remember how your neighbor was a shitty parker and his bumper hung over into your driveway? Or how that one time 12 years ago someone in line at the Comcast customer service center was an idiot? Or even that a coworker hated you and tried to make your life miserable at that one job you had in 2006? Or that the person you spoke to on the phone at the utility company was a moron? When you step back and allow yourself to get out of your solipsistic bubble and gain some perspective, it allows you to see the silliness of it all.
So that's what I try to do now, when I feel the heat rising in me over something that is truly unfuckworthy: "Is this worth wasting emotions on?" The answer is probably no. And the pause I take to think about that is a testament to meditation, which has allowed me to get those positive synapses closer to each other.
I still give plenty of fucks. I'm just choosing how I dole them out more selectively now, and it's made all of the difference.