I turned 38 a couple of months ago. I have entered Life: Part 2. In other words, I have come to terms with the fact my life is now half complete; assuming I live the typical lifespan of an American man.
When you’re pushing 40, there are certain things that tend fall into place in your life:
Your strengths, your weaknesses, your family, your career, your finances, your retirement plan…
To steal a quote from a book I will never read called Anna and the French Kiss, it really comes down to this:
“The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”
In other words, my identity is well established. While I remain open-minded to a certain point, I am at the place in life where I am no longer seeking confirmation of my identity from other people; the way Michael Scott and Andy Bernard did on The Office.
I no longer subscribe to the delusion that I am a good person, because then I would fall victim to the mentality, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
Not to mention, the concept of being a good person is simply relevant to others I would perceive as bad people.
There will always be people who perceive me as morally or intellectually inferior to themselves in some way. I am okay with that. I embrace it. I even celebrate it.
To quote Matchbox Twenty in a song called “Busted” from their debut album from over 20 years ago, this is how I feel:
“I’m the flame, I can’t get burnt. I’m wholly understated.”
In my 38 years, I have learned that most people predictably fear being perceived as wrong, ignorant, and/or immoral.
But I don’t. I am immune because I already know those things are true:
To some people, I will always be wrong, ignorant, and/or immoral.
I have taught myself that anything a person believes is true in their own mind; even for crazy people.
This is only magnified because of Identity Protective Cognition, which explains that when another person tries to convince someone against their strongly held beliefs, anything they hear in an attempt to convert them will only reinforce what they already believe.
Therefore, I don’t care what other people believe. I have no desire to prove anyone wrong, as I have learned that often the subconscious goal people have in trying to prove another person wrong is that they are ultimately trying to earn that person’s respect.
I don’t crave for people’s respect by proving them wrong, as I believe it’s nearly impossible; and ultimately, a poor choice in the game of time management.
People tend to think their opinions, beliefs, and ideologies actually matter to other people.
No one cares what anyone believes. It’s an illusion. Instead, people are simply seeking to identify members of their own camp; while demonizing the other side; believing those with opposing views are wrong, ignorant, and/or immoral.
(The bipartisan structure of American politics has made this clear by now.)
I have peace knowing that I can privately disagree with other people’s moral codes and lifestyles; as they surely disagree with mine. I am more interested in learning what I have in common with others; not what we disagree on.
So surely you can understand why a guy like me has proudly adopted this as my current life motto:
“Hi, I don’t care. Thanks.”
Further exploring my mindset, it is important to note that I have also climbed the ladder of emotional intelligence high enough now to know this:
It is always a choice to be offended, insulted, and/or disrespected by another person.
Similarly, forgiveness is always a choice, as well.
I turned off the breaker switch to allowing others to affect my emotions. I now control my own emotions, thanks to some gentle reminders from the surprisingly emotionally intelligent band Metallica, in legendary songs like “Master of Puppets”:
“I’m pulling your strings/Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams/Blinded by me, you can’t see a thing.”
This is a great illustration of how most people, by default, allow other people’s control of their own emotions to rule their lives.
Imagine the unnecessary burden that has been removed from my own mind. Imagine the freedom I must feel:
To not allow other people to control my emotions because I ultimately don’t fear being perceived as wrong, ignorant, or immoral. To know it’s vanity to believe I can gain a person’s respect by proving them wrong.
So it’s only natural that what I really wanted for this Father’s Day was a basic t-shirt that shares my motto with the world:
(To buy this shirt for the best price on Amazon, click here.)
I was able to debut it during our recent family vacation to Lake Tahoe, where my shirt was a hit among random passersby… my age and older. They are clearly riding they same vibes I am.
And my wife was able to debut a t-shirt that shared her equivalence of my motto:
(To buy that shirt on Amazon, click here.)
It’s subtle deadpan humor, as the backdrop is a camp scene in the mountains.
No, my wife doesn’t really hate people.
But like me (she is just a couple of months younger than I am), she has come to similar conclusions about life.
She regularly responds with, “People are crazy.”
So this is where I’m at in life. This is who I have become. This is who I am now.
I have lived enough life to understand and appreciate what little actually matters.
It is now even easier for me to enjoy my life and to love my neighbor as myself.
I am no longer distracted by the things that held me back in Life: Part 1.