Cultivating Indifference

I regret the time and attention I’ve given to things throughout my life that didn’t matter. Of course, I may have thought they mattered at the time. But that was only because I hadn’t cultivated indifference to such things. I wasn’t sufficiently sensitive to just how much time I was wasting.

Indifference isn’t the same as apathy. Indifference is about discriminating and prioritizing the things that truly matter. It’s about valuing your time and resources. And being aware enough not to allow others to dictate your agenda for you. It’s about being willing to say no. Often.

I’ve gotten better at it later in life, but I still have room for improvement. It’s easier to practice indifference when you’re not part of a company, church, or other organization. Organizations always seem to spend a lot of time and energy on things that don’t matter. It’s more noticeable to me now that I’m not part of an organization. Sometimes it helps to step outside and look back with a critical eye. And to ask yourself the easy yet hard question: Does this matter?

Often, it doesn’t. Frequently, people are filling time. Or working on things that keep them busy but are actually insignificant and immaterial. Activity isn’t the same as contribution. It sounds obvious, but you’ll be surprised by the number of people who confuse the two.

When I became more aware of the need to cultivate indifference, I started to:

  • avoid meetings
  • delete most emails
  • say no more often
  • read less news
  • subscribe to fewer magazines
  • write more
  • minimize my use of social media
  • value my friendships more
  • spend time with people who need and would value my company and contributions
  • watch less TV
  • attend fewer sporting events
  • enjoy art and museums more
  • travel more
  • work less
  • desire less

And I moved to Indiana to be near you, Vera, and your parents.

Of course, what matters to you will be different than the things that matter to me, Vera. But the process can be the same. You might want to begin cultivating indifference at an early age. And not wait as long as I did.

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