The first turning point in my life was in 2015 when I decided to stop caring. I’ve thought a lot about what to call the philosophy I adopted since “The Don’t Care Philosophy” doesn’t exactly draw attentive ears, but there’s just been no better way to describe the freedom I found besides I simply stopped caring.
It’s completely counterintuitive to what we hear a lot of. The media will tell you ten thousand and one things you need to care more about and make compelling arguments for every one. It sounds great but it’s wrong. You don’t need to care more, you need to care less. Bear with me.
In 2015 I was coming off the worst hockey season of my career. No, I wasn’t playing in the NHL or anything noteworthy, but it was the most important thing in my life. My mood and my entire sense of well being hinged on my performance playing hockey. I don’t know what it was that inspired me to do this, but prior to the 2015-2016 season, I decided to stop caring. I mean completely let go of any emotional investment into the sport whatsoever. Lo and behold, I started to actually have fun. I didn’t care if we won or lost, I didn’t care if I scored, if I was on the 1st line or 4th line, I just played. If you asked my teammates from the time, they would’ve had no idea. Not caring doesn’t mean not working hard or not executing at your greatest capabilities, it just means you can still smile when things inevitably don’t go your way.
From 2015 to 2017 I earned more meaningful relationships than I had in my entire life until that point, including the relationship with my now wife. I became a person that someone could actually be attracted to. From 2013 to the end of 2015, I was at the same university as my now wife, but I had no idea. She’s told me that she knew who I was much before I knew she existed (we were even in the same department), but I know I wasn’t worth pursuing, nor did I think anyone would want me based on my poor performance on the ice. I cared too much.
Like I said, I can’t put my finger on exactly what inspired me, other than perhaps a little disgust with myself, but I turned it around and gave in to my disease of care. During my senior year, I got called into the coaches office and he let me know I would be a healthy scratch for one of the next week’s games, which had never happened to me before. He pleaded with me that I had actually been playing much better this season than he’d ever seen me, but based on a number of factors it’s what he had to do. I remember just smiling, thinking to myself he thinks I’m gonna be pissed, but I don’t actually care, not anymore. He assured me I’d be right back in the line up next game and sure enough I was, and by the end of the season I was actually centering the top line and playing first unit power play and penalty kill.
You seem confused (I assume). How does not caring lead to better performance? Because like I said, not caring does not mean not working hard and executing to the best of your ability. I worked harder in the gym that season than I ever did and I set varsity records for certain lifts at my school. My hockey stats and my GPA were both dramatically better after I stopped caring about results. I attracted my wife into my life after I stopped caring and I got offered literally the only job I was interested in at the time right out of university. I’m convinced none of that could have happened if I didn’t flip that switch and let go.
There are very few things we can control in our lives. Really, we can only control ourselves. Everything else just happens, and things are going to happen. But life isn’t about what happens, it’s about what we do, which we can control. Getting wrapped up in what happens only leads to a much higher rate of frustration. Focusing on what we can control (ourselves) and not caring about the outcome leads to freedom and fulfillment. Just ask founder of Quest Nutrition and Impact Theory, Tom Bilyeu. He’s gone on record saying he was only able to attract his wife after he stopped caring about being rejected. He was completely hopeless with women. He couldn’t even get a date until someone advised him to stop caring about the outcome and start focusing on himself. The rest is history.
If you think I’m not a thoughtful, considerate person hoping to leave a positive mark on the world because of my “Don’t Care Philosophy”, you’re missing the point. I do my best to contribute to a better future, forge a few more smiles, provide quality service and take care of as much and as many as I possibly can, but I know the world is going to march on whether I’m successful in those endeavours or not. All we can do is keep moving forward. Some things will knock us down for a while, tragedies happen, but we can’t afford to care about every bump in the road. Sometimes you don’t make the sales target, land the second date or get the house you wanted. Not everyone will like you or respect you. Who cares?
I’ve got a lot of push back on this idea of not caring. Maybe I’m not explaining it well, but I hope it makes you think about what you might be able to unburden yourself with.
More to come…