How to Master the “Art of Apathy”
When we hear the word “apathy”, we may also hear the words “uncaring”, “soulless”, or “lazy”. You may think that an apathetic person doesn’t like to be bothered with the burdens of the world or even in his immediate community. You may picture him having a slothful attitude. Maybe he doesn’t care too much for his appearance, doesn’t watch the news, or probably would seemingly “accept” another’s argument simply because he can’t be bothered to argue over something that, in the grand scheme of things, won’t change my mind or the other person’s mind.
This is me (most of the time).
I get pissed at something – maybe I’ll let my feelings shine anywhere from a few hours to a few minutes – and next thing you know, I’ve shifted off into another topic. It’s not that I have a low attention span or don’t care about things, it’s just that, for the most part, things that seem big to other people, usually aren’t that big to me.
Why it’s good to be apathetic
I believe that it’s good to be apathetic (sometimes). And while it may not be a character trait preferred over bravery or valor, it does have it’s advantages. Just to name a few:
- Helps you deal with rejection
- You begin to think more about how you affect the world, instead of how it affects you
- You’re just calmer in general
When to be apathetic
Unless you want to be boring (like me) you don’t want to be apathetic all the time. You’ll want to use it only to get the results mentioned above. You don’t want be indifferent towards a close friend’s birthday – unless he deserves it – or towards your boss – unless you’re seeking to get fired.
Use apathy in situations that wouldn’t negatively affect your day if you never heard it in the first place. Let’s say you spill milk all over the counter. Relax, it’s no biggie. Just clean it up. Think to yourself, “Well, no use crying over spilled milk.” In another example, let’s say that you get stood up (either by a potential client or a date). I could easily tell you “not to care”, but what if this date or this client is particularly high-value? How would you “not care” then?
At long last, how to be apathetic
To be apathetic, you’re going to have to work at it. Apathy is hard to fake. You can’t just say “Oh, I don’t care,” and then be lying defeated on the inside. It’s going to take a conscious and repeated effort in order to master the “art of apathy”.
- Step 1 – Recall and record situations that usually tick you off
Which situations are causing your anger? I can list at least a page, if not more. Stick to simplicity and list 5 things that really burn your beans. A few examples include: stubbing your toe, someone cutting you off on the highway, or forgetting your laundry.
- Step 2 – Go for the source. Why does it tick you off?
What about those situations causes you your stress? Pick 1-3 things for each listed situation. Continuing off of the examples above:
- Stubbing my toe really hurts.
- When that guy cut in front of me, he almost hit my car and/or obstructed my continuous motion.
- When I forget my laundry for the third time, my clothes get wrinkled and/or shrink.
- Step 3 – Substitute
More likely than eliminate what’s causing you stress, you’ll want to substitute your anger with a calm solution. That way, you’re logical brain will take over your emotional brain. The stress is gone, and at no cost to your day.
- I guess I should wear shoes/socks more often. I should watch where I’m going.
- I should switch lanes and/or just wait patiently. I believe in karma.
- I should set a timer next to me in order to get my laundry on time.
Without apathy, I don’t know where I’d be (probably stewing in a corner somewhere). This shows that being apathetic doesn’t mean you’re “cold” or “lazy”. You’re just indifferent to things that seem like a big deal, but are just trivial.
You’ve got more important things to think about. Everyone does.
|Written on 12/30/2009 by John Anyasor. John is the creator of HiLife2B. His blog is centered on personal development, life tips, and general motivation. Follow him on Twitter or join his Facebook group.||Photo Credit: Little Li|