The Life-Changing Magic of Selective Caring

Finding something important and meaningful in your life is perhaps the most productive use of your time and energy.

— Mark Manson

We think caring is a good thing. But then we find out that caring has a point of diminishing return. You can ruin anything by caring too much. Love. Careers. Your health. You name it.

You can get addicted

Caring is a potent drug. You only need a tiny dose to start going after the things you want in life. When those things don’t go according to plan, another shot of caring won’t help.

The big secret

You have to care just enough about the right things, and dump what doesn’t matter. Sometimes, you even have to pretend you don’t care as much as you actually do. It’s a tough trick to pull off.

How to care less

It’s not easy to care less about what matters most to you. But it’s essential, and there’s a few strategies.

  1. Take breaks
  2. Assume a level of disappointment
  3. Find hobbies and distractions

You need a shot of pessimism

When you overdose on caring, what you need is a dose of pessimism. That’s the natural antidote. Hear me out.

Strategic caring is also about zooming out

They say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” But that’s the problem. In a given moment, we think small stuff is big stuff.

A brief list of things you should care less about

Here are some things you probably spend too much time worrying about, because we all do:

  • How much you despise your boss
  • Bad drivers
  • Someone else ruining their life
  • What your ex is up to
  • That embarrassing moment
  • How you look in your rear view mirror
  • Something you have to do, but don’t want to

Make your own list

I’m not a huge fan of little exercises, but this one can help. If you’re worked up, sit down and write out what’s bothering you. Let that list get as long as you need. Then for each thing, write out what you can actually do about it. For example, if you really can’t get along with your boss, and you’ve tried everything, it’s time to start looking for a new job.

Understand where you fit

A lot of the problem with over-caring comes from an inflated sense of self-importance. We think our caring is the answer.

  • Volunteering
  • Voting
  • Protesting
  • Informing yourself

The problem with care bares

Growing up, cartoons taught us that caring was enough. If you stared at a problem, magic rainbows would blast out of your chest to turn assholes into human beings and make everything sparkly.

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