Trivial things quietly ruin our lives.
It’s almost as if life is a game and someone larger than life sprinkled a bunch of silly distractions in front of all the paths we could take.
It pains me to see.
The title of this article is a quote I butchered from Fight Club author Charles Bukowski. It’s one of the best reminders we can get to zoom out and turn our lives inside out, so we can get to the next level.
The distractions people worry about
I’m no badass legend. I don’t have everything in order.
Trivial things find their way into my life too. But after enough years, I’ve become aware of them and their insidious nature.
At work people get caught up in office politics.
Who’s joining? Who’s leaving and why? What controversial thing did the big boss say now? Or what fatal error has the company made now? One of the biggest traps is to care too much about what a boss thinks.
It’s most noticeable on LinkedIn. People are afraid to post because they’re hyper-focused on what every little person in their career could think.
The fact none of these scumbags would even show up at their funeral if they got hit by a bus tomorrow is beside the point.
Once they get home from work energy is often low. Dealing with all these junk food distractions is exhausting.
The temptation of a royal scandal or overturning an election is too great.
Add in what’s happening with interest rates, and they’ve got a party. The flip side is those higher interest rates have the power to destroy many people. The rates go down nice and fast to tempt people to get into debt.
Then they rocket back up in record time to remind them of their risky decision. It’s sad but it’s also a clever form of control. People are hypnotized by debt and it slowly wastes their most precious resource: time.
Time spent doing dumb stuff to repay oversized, unnecessary debt.
Then there’s Joe Blow who has an opinion on their outfit. He makes a snarky comment disguised as an insult.
Or there’s the ex-Olympian who can’t wait to tell them how they could be in better shape and to just eat more meat protein.
If only they’d thought of that!
Shiny objects pull at their attention too. Is it time for another iPhone they think as they walk past the Apple store created by the dead tyrant Steve Jobs.
Trivial things are as bad as heroin when you dissect them.
The big picture they should care about
Trivial things create a prison in the mind.
What people should care about is whether they are free. And there are many levels of freedom, the holy grail being financial freedom. The luxury not having your time controlled by decisions connected to money.
Personal freedom is only one thought most never contemplate.
The real pandemic is short terms goals combined with short-term visions. It’s so hard to watch. This often leads to individualism that makes overall society worse.
Instead, the better choice is to ask yourself, do I love something bigger than myself?
If the answer is yes, then you’ve leapfrogged most people into a parallel universe that doesn’t feel like Earth anymore. Your existence alone has the power to do untold good.
This leads us to our careers. Most people show up to work each day and don’t give a damn about what they do. They send an email, and attend some meetings. All of it feels same-same. Zero creativity, zero fulfillment.
Instead, people should be obsessed with finding a type of work they love to do. This option exists when you worship zero company loyalty and the art of constant job hopping — exactly what career advisors, recruiters, and business leaders tell you not to do.
“It’ll look bad on your resume.”
As if a resume means much. As if a resume is the meaning of life and to f*ck with it is a sin worse than murder.
The one wake-up call that’s the ultimate destroyer of trivial things
Hi, my name’s Tim.
Wanna know why I think and speak like this? Wanna know why I don’t give a damn about trivial things and tell you not to either? It’s not because I’m smart, wealthy, or special.
It’s because I faced the hardest question you can ever imagine.
What happens if I get told how many weeks I have to live?
That’s right, this is a question any one of us can face any day.
You can be in bed looking over at your cute kiddo and then suddenly find out via a phone call that an expiry date has been placed on your life. I came close to one in 2015. A near-miss with cancer.
As soon as you find out, trivial things instantly vanish. Your priorities change and all the small stuff disappears. You talk to people differently and you become insanely impatient.
Don’t you know I don’t have much time left?
That thought runs deep in your subconscious. Even if you recover, like I did, it never escapes you. Some say it’s a curse.
I say it’s a blessing.
The cancer warning wasn’t my first. I got hard-coded early in life with multiple near-death experiences. A random gang attack left my friend and me only inches from losing our lives.
A knock on the front door from a man pointing a shotgun.
It’s strange how these close calls with death reprogram what society tells you to care about.
The best strategy I’ve found to blow up your life
I don’t want to leave you hopeless.
There’s a solution to the problem of caring about trivial things: go from small talk to deep talk. Let me give you a short example.
A guy I used to work with occasionally emails me.
We weren’t close and I’ve perhaps spoken to him only a handful of times in real life. I got a message from him last week.
“How are you?”
Me: “No, how are you really? Stop giving me shallow answers.”
Then we got to the real talk. He’d recently been let go from his high-profile job in project management. It seemed odd as he’s a relaxed guy with a gentle voice.
Turns out he’s an alcoholic.
I would never have guessed it. He doesn’t look like the partying kind. But he is. And he’s embarrassed to tell anyone. I’m the only person that knows.
And like I said, I barely know the guy. Suddenly he starts sharing all sorts of deep thoughts and asking me about the meaning of life.
See what happened?
We skipped the small talk and went deep. Because it’s such a rare occurrence, when you make deep talk a focus it becomes infectious. People can’t get enough.
Suddenly you start to build deep connections with people and go beyond the surface-level stuff most people waste their lives focusing on.
So if I’ve convinced you not to get distracted by trivial things anymore, the answer you’ve been waiting for is simple.
Live life as if you’re about to be told how long you have left to live by a doctor, and have deeper conversations with everybody you meet.
That’s how you escape the insanity of triviality.