In life we all go through things that raise our cortisol levels and place us in a state we don’t want to be in. Things that give us grey hairs at an early age and cause us nothing but headaches and grief. Things that put our equanimity to task unnecessarily and overall ruin our days we try to live in peace.
Although there’s a plethora of ways to go about alleviating stress and living a calmer and more relaxed life, we have to analyze the source of the stress and make some adjustments that will mitigate the likelihood of external circumstances getting to us.
That source is you.
When it comes to stress, it is often our estimation of external circumstances rather than the circumstance itself that causes us stress. This concept comes from the Stoic Epictetus who conceived the concept of the dichotomy of control which simply states: some things are up to us; some things are not.
Seems pretty simple but is much easier said than done. How can we as complex and nuanced creatures go about creating a stress-free life? If it were as simple as focusing on things within our control, we’d be cruising on easy street; however, control is a subjective thing we have to often struggle mentally to make objective, and, that objectivity requires a certain level of dispassionate analysis which requires a level of honesty most of us don’t indulge in when it comes to ourselves.
Now, rather than go through a psychoanalysis, I want to discuss the power of indifference and how it can aid you in maintaining equanimity and cultivating a stress-free life.
Now, what is indifference?
Simple, indifference is the disposition that no matter what happens you will maintain the same energy.
Example: When it comes to making friends, we typically try to build an attachment as quickly as possible so we can start spilling out all our secrets and turn the other person into our therapist or emotional tampon. At least, this is what most people do.
Instead of doing that, maintain the same disposition you had when you met them. If they stay, great. If they leave, great. If you guys talk every day, great. if you guys only meet once a month, great. If you guys have a great perfunctory conversation then never talk again, great.
Simply put, disinvest yourself from what other people do and how external circumstances play out.
The power of indifference can be cultivated by deciding to focus on only your axis of control. Meaning that you focus on your actions, your words, your behavior, your interaction with people, and your decisions when posed with question or opposition.
Perceptions of others about you, other people’s words, behaviors, and actions, other people’s decisions, and other people in general are not within your control and therefore are not worth worrying about.
The power of indifference helps you greatly as, by consciously practicing it, it will disabuse you of the need to be liked by everyone. As time goes on, you will begin to care less and less about what people think of you, what other people talk about, what other people are interested in, and even if other people talk to you. When you focus on yourself and your axis of control, the world becomes nothing but background noise and you gain an increase in control. Not because you’ve co-opted your surroundings but because you’ve gained a better understanding on what is within and not within your control and chose to focus on the former and discard the latter.
Now, again, this is easier said than done.
When cultivating the necessary indifference for a stress-free life, you will face opposition especially in the workplace. People will inquire, people will try to get a rise out of you in subtle ways, people will try to coerce you into conformity.
Trust me, it will happen.
When you’ve been trying to fit in for a long time and finally decide to do away with it and do your own thing; when you finally decide to stop caring about what the world is doing and focus on what you’re doing; when you finally decide that people, events, social gatherings, and activities you have no interest in are not worth your time, that is when people start to gravitate towards you and want to invade your space.
Now, I’m not saying cultivate the power of indifference to make friends. I’m saying cultivate the power of indifference to focus on what you can control, discard what’s not, and have the wisdom to know the difference. When you do this, your blood pressure goes down, you have less headaches and you experience less grief.
This is not about impressing others or to be cool. This is not about giving the world the middle finger and telling it you don’t need it. This is about you living a stress-free life and going about a peaceful existence. To only entertain things, you know are within your control and to make not time nor give place in your mind to things that aren’t.
Trying to be cool, trying to fit in, trying to get in on conversations, trying to insert yourself into a culture that was long established before you got there, trying to determine whether a group is open or closed to your joining them; all of this gives you nothing but headaches and grief.
Now, the argument could be made about the process of trial and error. However, this isn’t about trying something new and making conscious efforts to improve upon it. This is about no longer doing things you have no interest in and have never had the interest in doing in the first place, being content in your own skin and being comfortable in your own world.
The power of indifference allows you for find and cultivate conviction within yourself and to finally feel like you are enough in a world that insists that you aren’t. To look in the mirror and be truly satisfied with what you see in a world that’s never satisfied. To be content with your lot in life in a world that insists luxury is the lot everyone should aspire to. To be your own person and to live and die on your own terms.
The power of indifference isn’t about being cool or interesting or mysterious for the ladies. It isn’t about appearing as a badass in front of a group of people for fake praise, adoration, and validation. No, the power of indifference is about allowing you to breath, allowing you to truly be yourself in a world that doesn’t accept you for who you are but has to tolerate you anyway.
That is what indifference is truly about.
Hope this helps,