While reading my daily blogs today, one caught my eye. Carmine Coyote in his post entitled Should you learn not to care - or just not to care so much? recaps an old posting of his, in which he writes:
"Stop paying so much attention to how you feel. No one can control their emotions, good or bad. If you spend your attention on how you feel, you’ll be in a constant state of anxiety. If you feel good, you’ll start worrying about how to keep that feeling. If you feel bad, you’ll fret over how to feel better. You feel whatever you feel. Get over it. Just go on doing what you need to do, regardless of your emotions."I wonder how accurate this is. While I'm a firm believer in many of the principles of the Age of Enlightenment, I do value the purpose and usefulness of feelings and emotions. It is these emotions that make us real, that make us tangible, able to be understood by the senses. After all, isn't that what we all want? To understand, and to be understood? To be valued, treasured, loved? Don't each of those characteristics have their root in feeling?
In his book, Miracles, C.S. Lewis argues that reason is that which separates man from beast. It is the divine gift to humanity. We must first realize that feelings are rooted in the moment. They exist in that single space in time when your body is able to experience its environment, when it is aware of its surroundings. The senses can only perceive that which is immediate. When we take a step back and apply our critical thinking to the entire scope of human life, we can understand that while in the moment, feeling reigns supreme, in the grand scheme of things, reason has a much greater hand.
It has been argued that human life is nothing more than a sequence of events. Taking this idea further, we can view life as a sequence of moments. In each of these moments, feelings are of utmost importance. But when viewed from a distance, feeling begins to lose its dominance and reason begins to take over.
So how do we combine the two? How do we find the right balance? How do we take each feeling from each individual moment that we live in and apply an overarching component of reason to it?
While one could argue that since life is a sequence of moments, it is the moment which is important, one can also argue that since life is a sequence of moments, it is the big picture generated by the sequence which is important. However, I would argue that neither of those is correct in its entirety. Some moments are of utmost importance, and of eternal value. Some moments are simply a small portion of the whole. Some moments are worth living an entire lifetime in. Some moments are spent waiting for the next to come.
The key then, is not only learning when to care, and what to care about, but learning when not to care, and what not to care about.
In his piece for HuffingtonPost.com entitled The Virtues of Emotional Detachment, Bob Sutton says that:
"I have argued for years that learning when not [to] care, what not [to] care about, and how to not care is just as important to career success and personal well-being as being passionate. I especially think that it is an essential skill for people who are trapped in asshole-infested workplaces and can’t get out — at least for now."I believe Bob hits the nail right on the head. Society tells us that we need to have passion, that we need to have drive and desire. That's all fine and good, but with passion and drive must come the understanding that not everything is going to go your way. And when that happens, one must learn not to care. We can't dwell on setbacks, and can't become infuriated with the nay-sayers. We must keep our eyes fixed on the goal. Listening and responding to negative feedback is extremely productive - but dwelling on it is extremely crippling. We must learn to tell the difference, and learn how to apply that ability to our everyday situations.
Lets learn to not care... so much :)