What it means to go through life being okay with just about anything.
I’m an optimist. At least that’s what I tell myself, that’s what I tell others, and that’s how I try to live my life.
That is until one day, I was in the kitchen with my mom when she asked me,
“What do you want for dinner tonight?”
“I don’t care”, I replied.
Annoyed, she tells me to start caring.
“But I don’t mind what we have, I’ll still eat it.” I countered.
That’s when it finally hit me- I exude indifference.
It wasn’t just a single instance of being indifferent that made me come to this realization. Being indifferent about where I wanted to go hang out, what I wanted to eat, the movie to watch, the type of beer we got at a bar, the grades I got in class, the money I spent, the job I had, or whether I would ever even see you again is what let me know this might be an unhealthy mindset.
The Value of Indifference
Being indifferent isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can be quite helpful. There is this notion of positive indifference that can become a helpful mindset at certain points in our lives.
In the words of Drake Powe,
“Positive Indifference is the experience of unconditional love for our life. We can work for our goals, and at the same time be present to that part of our consciousness that loves our life — no matter what.”
Adopting this mindset of being okay with your life, the choices you and your friends make, and how the world is around you can help deal with many of the stresses introduced into our lives.
This may start to seem like the adoption of Stoicism in one’s life- a philosophy that focuses on defending oneself against hardship, and learning to endure pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint.
There is, however, a fine line between this positive indifference (and Stocisim, for that matter) and just having a lack of interest or concern.
Reflecting on My Own Indifference
For years, what I considered to be positive indifference, optimism, Stoicism, or some other philosophy that allowed me to be content with how things were in my life, was likely just a coping mechanism to deal with the fact that I have simply “lost interest”.
And, no, I don’t mean losing interest in living. Perhaps it’s the loss of interest in the beauty of life.
Just because you seem indifferent doesn’t mean you have to slap a big fat “depressed” label on yourself. (We love labeling.)
What this showed me, though, is that somewhere along the way I stopped carrying myself with the attitude and confidence that I have the power to change my circumstances, outcomes, and pursuits.
I alone have the ability to create a life worth living, and I should care about that.
Why Should I Care
In the words of the Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius,
Man is like a dog tied to a moving wagon. If the dog refuses to run along with the wagon he will be dragged by it, yet the choice remains his: to run or be dragged.
To be active and involved in life doesn’t just mean striving towards never-ending ambitions, it also means to take pride in ourselves, what we like to eat, the activities we like to do, and bringing others around us into these unique aspects of our lives.
By caring about who we are as individuals and giving others a peek into our perspective of the universe we can bestow our individual creativity, our essence, what makes us us, out into the world.
And this, this is a beautiful thing. It’s a beautiful thing that makes it all the reason to care and choose to pull the wagon, not be dragged by it.
Do you ever find yourself not spending time on what you want?