On the Art of Network Engineering podcast, we talk often about the importance of mental health and taking care of yourself, not only to then be able to take care of others, but to also enjoy a healthy and fulfilling life. One of the the things I struggle with on a daily basis is what I refer to as overthinking. I have this constant fear that if I am not doing something “productive” (whatever that really means), I am wasting opportunities to better myself and that will ultimately and surely come back to bite me at some point without fail. I feel like I constantly need to be looking for that “next big thing” to be working towards. While growth and self improvement are important, this adds a ton of stress to my daily life, but honestly, I have a hard time turning off this mindset. As with many concepts, balance is key.
I recently listened to the audiobook version of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. While the title certainly draws one’s attention, try not to let it fool you. This book is not a guide to just not caring about anything so you can live care-free life. Instead, it is more about understanding that you cannot possibly care about and spend time on every potential thought and action that comes your way. You need to understand what is important to you in life and focus your energy on thoughts and actions that support the important people and things. Here are some of my key takeaways from this book as well as notes that this book has made me think about.
Understand What is Important
As stated in the introduction of this post, I (and I am sure many others out there) are constantly flooded with thoughts about what what actions and directions to take in life on a daily basis (and honestly much more frequent than that). While social media definitely has its benefits, I think a side effect is that it can leave us wanting more. We constantly see what others are doing and getting and it can lead to us instantly comparing our lives with the lives of others. I think that has the potential to quickly lead us down a rabbit hole of despair. Understanding that it does not make sense, and really is not fathomable to care about every single thing that comes our way, we need a method filter out the stuff that should not consume our energy and add to our stress levels. One way to accomplish this that really makes sense to me is to first understand what is important to you in life. I feel that if you do not understand what is important to you in life, then you really do not have a good way of knowing where to direct your energy and what you should care about or let get to you. I think this could lead to caring about too much and eventually making yourself miserable. But if you understand what is important to you, that gives you the filter you need to let go of the stuff that does not align with your values and goals.
Be Less Wrong
This concept was really interesting and intriguing to me. My default mindset to my career and learning in general has been that I need to get to the level of understanding where things just make sense and I feel as close to an expert as possible. If I do not get to that point, I feel like something is wrong and I cannot give myself true credit for growth until I get there. Wherever there actually is, sometimes I am not sure. I think I set these sometimes not fully defined lofty goals for myself. And maybe that is part of the problem, I probably need to be better about setting clear expectations for myself. Anyway, back to the concept of being less wrong. My interpretation of this is that rather than striving for absolute perfection and accepting nothing less (similar to my default mindset mentioned earlier), we accept growth as a continuous process to get better at different aspects of life and becoming less wrong. To me, it is allowing yourself to celebrate small wins rather than only being satisfied with achieving a massive goal that might not even be feasible. This really spoke to me.
How This Book Applies to Me
I will be honest, I was drawn to the title of this book. That being said, I am glad I spent time on it as I really found it helpful. I think I put too much pressure on myself for constant growth and to always be moving in the right direction. A problem with that is I do not always take the time and effort to understand what it actually is that I am trying to accomplish and what value it will really bring. While I feel like I have a decent idea about what is important to me in life, I find that I have this constant desire for “more”, that often may not align to my core values. I am constantly searching for more happiness when it is often already in front of me staring me in the face. My good buddy Andy Lapteff brought up the concept of gratitude lists that I have been writing in as close to daily as possible to help keep things in perspective. In closing, I will state that this book was helpful to me and I have already started applying some of these concepts when the dreaded overthinking strikes. I only have so much energy, I need to apply it efficiently.