Think about all the near-misses that you never knew about. Fight-or-flight situations that passed unintentionally unnoticed. To not know and continue to never know without consequence is a wonderful gift.
Especially if you’re someone like me who internalizes theses crises. I feel them churning in my stomach. My heart races or I get sick with frustration and anger.
But so many of these situations come to mean nothing. Like, absolutely nothing. You miss a surprise phone call from someone important. The wasted opportunity nags at you. But how many times has your phone eaten a call and you never knew about it? Someone gets the last word and it hurts. But what if you’d never heard it?
Your life remains utterly unchanged by these moments. The mistakes you’re aware of, but can do nothing about, pale in comparison to the countless mistakes you didn’t even realize. The last word isn’t acted on, it’s just resented or aggravating.
What you do, for example, in a heated discussion is decide the point at which the things the other person says become meaningless. And then don’t listen when it turns into excuses or rationalizations or bullshit. If it’s an email chain, don’t even open it. You can choose to make it irrelevant. In terms of your decisions and life, it already is.
Syrus wrote that we should “always shun that which makes you angry.” Meaning, you identify the triggers and you opt out of being a part of pulling them. The body has ingrained responses to certain stimuli. It’s more severe in people like me. So you avoid those stimuli because they represent nothing. They are false.
Maybe you don’t take is as far as being purposely ignorant, but you do take into consideration how easily you could have just not known about this thing before you let it matter too much.
I like the new layout man. I’m in politics and I receive emails from all sorts of people. One guy is particularly adamant about having me read global warming apologetics despite the fact that I “believe” already.
I could have pulled that trigger, shot off an email, but my inner stoic resisted.
“Always shun that which makes you angry.” I wouldn’t say “always” shun, but I can see his point. Freud basically reiterated this in his theory of hedonism.
I think it’s better to not avoid that which makes you angry but to control one’s emotions. Avoiding entails close-mindedness, not the ideal type of thinking for rationality nor emotional responses.
I have some questions for you, Ryan.
1) Do you recommend avoiding the event (external trigger) or the response (internal trigger)? “Meaning, you identify the triggers and you opt out of being a part of pulling them.” By this statement, it appears as if you avoid the (negative?) emotions that can arise from actions you do not like. Other statements such as “don’t listen” and “don’t even open it” show that you want to avoid the external stimuli.
2) This is an honest question. I have read your blog for a while now, and I see the verbal attacks in your general direction from some of your readers. Not that those matter specifically. What is the purpose of your messages? I have always read them in the sense that they are a personal diary of yours written in a manner that others could possibly gain some tools to use for personal insight (with the help of Skeptical philosophy). From the attacks that you receive (based on your messages or presentation or whatever it is that people decide to attack you with), I can tell that others do not read your blog with the same thought process. I’m interested.
Anyway, keep up the deep thinking. Not too many others share it (not to mention the number of people who refrain from actually doing it).
You just have to keep in mind that those people are idiots, or they are projecting their own frustrations outward and it prevents them from understanding things. But yeah, most of what I’m writing is to myself with the idea that maybe it applies to other people too.
Thanks for sharing this Ryan, it’s a nice reminder for me, particularly today.
Do you ever have trouble letting go of things? Even after I recognize how silly and inconsequential some of the things I hold onto are, I still have trouble prying open my grasp on them.
I love the new bullshit-free layout. Great write-up, and thanks for the new reading list.
Haven’t visited your blog in while Ryan, love the redesign.
Should also mention, thanks for the heads up on Meditations. Bought it off your blog months back and loved it … but re-reading it this past May, well, it just about saved my life as I went through one of the most difficult trials of my life.
Rock on bud
“It’s more severe in people like me.”
Sounds like defensive fragility – means you’re wrong somewhere, even if your opponent is ‘an idiot’. Ask why you have this hair-trigger.