Not Noticing

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.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.