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Do Other People’s Opinions Bother You?

Do Other People’s Opinions Bother You?

Human life is like a pendulum. It is dangling and oscillating between positive and negative, good and bad, right and wrong, the true and the false, highs and lows, thick and thin, and a whole heap of other dualities. All that is subjective, however. It cannot affect you unless you let it. Let me narrate a little story to you:

There was a monk once. For years he practiced meditation, contemplation and forbearance, yet he could not gain enlightenment. He still felt troubled by the world around him, especially when people failed to see his saintliness or disagreed with him what he thought was the truth. He still felt bad when people mistreated him, and, good, when he was treated well. He wanted to rise above, remain indifferent to such worldly offerings but he could not.

One day he approached his guru and confessed his inner turmoil and restlessness. His master listened patiently and gave him a key and directions to a certain room.

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“Go and meditate there for three days unmoving. Leave the door open and maintain silence. The truth will dawn on you,” the master instructed.

He obeyed his guru and went to the place to meditate. Much to his dismay, it was in a market, next to a busy hallway, in the center of a crowded city. He was skeptical about meditating in a noisy place for inner quietude. Nevertheless, he proceeded. As soon as he unlocked the door, a nauseating stench greeted him. He soon realized that there was a toilet just above the room. For a moment he felt crossed with his guru. Then again, the guru must have a reason he thought.

The room was unclean, without any windows, and looked like an abandoned shop. There was seepage on the walls and the ground was somewhat wet. The waste pipe above was leaking. He assumed lotus position and sat down to meditate. Every so often, he could hear the sound of flushing toilet. He understood that he was meditating directly below a public toilet. His restlessness only built up more.

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A million worries engulfed him. He was concerned what if the pipe above him burst, what all people, who were passing by, talked about him, how would he know that seventy-two hours had passed, what if he fainted from the stench, what if he someone came and interrupted his meditation mid-way and so on.

On the third day, while he was engrossed in such thoughts, the plumbing above him burst and fecal matter fell on his head. Before he could determine his next step, two men walked by.

“Who is this man?” one asked in disgust seeing the monk smeared in excreta.

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“God knows! Some claim he is a holy man while many say he is full of crap.”

The monk was enlightened as soon as he heard that. He understood that the whole world can only have one of the two opinions about him and everyone is bound to have some opinion. In essence, none of the opinions actually matter unless you let them. They cannot affect you or bother you, unless you accept them. They cannot multiply unless you respond to them. Such opinions are not eternal unless you react towards them. They hold no intrinsic meaning unless you contemplate on them. They cannot change you unless you cultivate them.

Everyone who knows you is going to have an opinion about you. Many who have no clue about you are likely to have an even stronger opinion about you. Those who meet you form what they feel based on their experience. And many who have never met you, form theirs based on others’. Such is the nature of this material world. The biggest democracies, religions, sects, cults run on this principle. Every one has the right to have an opinion. And you have the right to accept, reject, or ignore it. It is your choice that affects your state of happiness.

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If you start listening to yourself, when your inner voice finds an audience in you, the outer ones matter less and less. When, how you are seen by others stops bothering you, a blanket of peace drapes, almost shields, you. And the one who is peaceful is happy indeed. Happiness is the outcome of your actions, physical or mental.

When others try to unload their negativity and opinions onto you, at that moment, you have a choice, an option to reject, to discard, to let go. If you can let go, you will remain peaceful; your state of bliss will remain unaltered. Know when, what, and where to keep versus let go. Such knowledge comes with practice, with awareness. It is about attitude and outlook.

Go on! be yourself, don’t let circumstances or people dictate the way you are supposed to feel about yourself.

(Photo credit: A Guy in a Suit via Shutterstock)

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Last Updated on December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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