Ignoring the Trivial

by Krishna on January 5, 2011

Paul Graham is spot-on with his post on focus and ignoring silly battles:

Someone who does you an injury hurts you twice: first by the injury itself, and second by taking up your time afterward thinking about it. If you learn to ignore injuries you can at least avoid the second half. I’ve found I can to some extent avoid thinking about nasty things people have done to me by telling myself: this doesn’t deserve space in my head. I’m always delighted to find I’ve forgotten the details of disputes, because that means I hadn’t been thinking about them.

In general, dwelling on the past is not very worthwhile. This is regardless of whether you had good or bad times in the past — they just evoke nostalgia, regret, disappointment — all the wrong emotions. More important than what happened in the past is what you are and what you have today. That determines the choices in front of you and if/when you can achieve whatever dreams you have for the future.

But even many of our immediate anxieties do not matter in the long run. The pain lessens over time, people move out of our life, and they are displaced by new events (and yes, new problems too). Gaining the right perspective of the present situation is crucial to happiness and peace of mind.

What also helps is an attitude that one can change the future through one’s actions, even though in reality, one’s future depends a lot of uncontrollable factors. Unfortunately, way too many people use religion and/or superstition as excuses for waiting for silver bullets and blaming God or the stars when that doesn’t happen. In the meantime, they continue to be worried and depressed, all the while doing nothing. It is sad, really.

{ 1 comment }

Goran January 6, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Excellent point, thank you for reminding us!

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