What stress is caused by and why you should give a damn

There’s a message being spread all over social networks. It sounds something like this:

“Stress is caused by giving a f*ck.” or “The less you give a damn, the happier you will be.”

These statements are misleading, at best — and, at worst, simply false.

With regard to the first:

Stress is not caused by giving a f*ck. Stress is caused by trying to have power over things that are beyond your control. There’s a difference.

The act of saying “F*ck it, I don’t care!” is simply an acceptance that you are no longer going to try to change something that you couldn’t control anyway.

It’s not the caring that’s the problem, it’s a problem with misdirected focus and an emotional attachment to an outcome you had no power over.

It’s like worrying — the mental process of worrying about something accomplishes nothing.

“We have a saying in Tibet: If a problem can be solved there is no use worrying about it. If it can’t be solved, worrying will do no good.” — Dalai Lama

It is the same with trying to have power over things you cannot control. If you have no power over something, there is no use trying to control it.

To encourage people to not care about things is a step in the wrong direction. The world doesn’t need more people who don’t give a f*ck — or people who sit by and do nothing when they have a chance to make a positive difference. We already have those in abundance.

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” – Steve Maraboli

The fact is that a lack of caring, a lack of focus, a lack of priorities, and a lack of positive role models are reasons why the world is in the state that it’s in.

The world needs more people who do care — and care passionately about the things that matter. But by focusing only on the things that are within our power to change.

This is done, in part, by making a concerted effort to focus on solutions and progress and not in simply sharing problems and leaving them for someone else to take care of.

“Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.” — Kahlil Gibran

To glorify an “I don’t give a f*ck” attitude is, in a way, a declaration that you will stand idly by and not give a damn when something happens in your life — or in the life of someone you care about — and when you have the power to make a positive difference, you will choose not to because, “Hey, [you] don’t give a f*ck!”, remember?

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” — Albert Einstein

“But I don’t mean it that way”, you say. And if you don’t, great.

But I am speaking specifically to these two self-contained statements (being glorified on the Internet) which seem to imply that giving a f*ck or a damn (about anything) is the problem:

  • “Stress is caused by giving a f*ck.”
  • “The less you give a damn, the happier you will be.”

Lessons Learned from The Path Less Traveled by Zero DeanWe should not be encouraging ourselves or others not to care or give a damn.

We should resist becoming hard or bitter or creating the expectation in our children that the world is a cold and hostile one in which to live.

We should be encouraging people to care — and educating people on how to do so effectively — and teaching our children to be the change they wish to see in the world.

“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.” — L.R. Knost

We must learn to let go of those things we have no control over and focus on what we can do. Remember not let the things you can’t control stand in the way of what you can.

“Let go or be dragged.” — Zen Proverb

With regard to the second statement about not giving a damn:

It would be more accurate to say,

  • The less you fear what people think of you — or let it bother you – the happier you will be.
  • The less you compare yourself to others, the happier you will be.
  • The more you are your authentic self — and don’t seek the approval of others — the happier you will be.
  • The more you focus on the things you can control in your life (such as yourself and your emotions), and not trying to control the things you cannot (such as other people), the happier you will be.

Inner Peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.

To think that happiness comes from not caring about external factors is to confuse where happiness comes from — which is from within. As I’ve said before, don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.

“Happiness comes from within. It is not dependent on external things or on other people. You become vulnerable and can be easily hurt when your feelings of security and happiness depend on the behavior and actions of other people. Never give your power to anyone else.” — Brian L. Weiss

Simply not giving a damn about anything is a very blah and mundane way to live life. You can’t live life to the fullest without passion — and passion is caring.

“Happiness comes from within and is found in the present moment by making peace with the past and looking forward to the future.” — Doe Zantamata

“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” — Leonardo da Vinci




What stress is caused by and why you should give a damn

What it means to “live life to the fullest”

What it means to "live life to the fullest"

What it means to "live life to the fullest"

What it means to "live life to the fullest"

Living life to the fullest means continually reaching out for newer, richer, deeper, life-changing experiences. It means using those experiences as a means for personal growth and pushing the boundaries of yourself mentally, spiritually, and intellectually for the betterment of yourself and the world at large.

Living life to the fullest means taking an active role in your own development. It means steering the rudder of your own life and taking advantage of your unique and powerful potential as a person.

It’s about how the things you do in your life motivate & inspire others to do something motivating & inspiring in theirs — and, if you’re lucky, leave a legacy that long outlasts you.

“Your story is the greatest legacy that you will leave to your friends. It’s the longest-lasting legacy you will leave to your heirs.” — Steve Saint

To live life to the fullest means to maximize your capacity to experience what life has to offer around you. This, in turn, expands your consciousness resulting in even more opportunities to have an even broader range of life experiences.

To live life to the fullest means facing your fears with bravery, an open mind, and a lack of prejudice. It means making the most of what you have and never settling for less than the life you are capable of living. It means being truly alive and awake to life and not asleep in life’s waiting room.

There is a reason why Neale Donald Walsch said:

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

The key to living life to the fullest is opening your mind and stretching beyond your comfort zone. Because if you’re not being challenged or intentionally pushing yourself beyond the realm of things that are familiar to you, then the experiences you’re having are no longer changing you.

If we are growing we are always going to be outside our comfort zone.” — John C. Maxwell

Anything you do that limits your ability to experience the breadth of life reduces your ability to live life to the fullest. While this can include doing things that have an adverse effect on your health, it can also mean living in such a way that your lifestyle restricts your ability to have new experiences.

While living life to the fullest can, at times, involves living dangerously (in a life-threatening fashion), if you’re living in such a consistent fashion that your life expectancy is greatly reduced as a result, then this is simply thrill seeking. If the point of living life to the fullest is to maximize your capacity for taking advantage of what life has to offer you, then this involves maximizing the length of your life as well.

“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” — Diane Ackerman

While living life to the fullest often involves travel in order to experience new places, languages, or cultures, it isn’t a requirement. It is quite possible to push your personal boundaries simply by reading, performing a creative activity, or taking charge of one’s education — all of which can be done in the comfort of one’s home.

But simply “being busy”, having a full schedule, and living a life of routine is not living life to the fullest.

Working during the week and partying it up on the weekends is not living life to the fullest.

Going on a tour guided, everything-is-taken-care-of vacation, or a pre-packaged “adventure” every year is not living life to the fullest.

“The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity; moving beyond it necessitates intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives and conquers fears.” — Dan Stevens

While living life to the fullest is about collecting experiences, it isn’t simply about knocking items off a bucket list. And it isn’t a competition to “do the most things before death.” It is about acquiring strength and wisdom from the challenges one has overcome and having experiences that alter how one perceives the world.

Living inside your comfort zone is one of the surest ways to know you’re not living life to the fullest. And as long as you are comfortable, you are not growing.

“Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not demanding more from yourself – expanding and learning as you go – you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.” – Dean Karnazes

If you really want to live life to the fullest, make a habit of always reaching for new experiences that push you to grow. And when you’re growing, and your growth is having a positive influence on others, you’ll know you’re truly maximizing your life.


What it means to "live life to the fullest"

The problem with the expression “Be yourself”

The problem with the expression “Be yourself” is that when it truly comes down to it, many people don’t know who they are.

I actually much prefer Joss Whedon‘s version better…

Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck.

It’s funny because it’s true. Some people just kind of suck at times, don’t they?

But the fact is, we all do — but we rarely recognize the instances in which we “suck” — or inconvenience others — because we tend judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions.

Think of it this way, when we cut someone off by accident while driving, we recognize for what it was, an honest mistake.

We may even mentally apologize to the other driver. And 5 minutes later we’ve forgotten about it.

So, in our minds, we’re definitely not the kind of person that cuts people off while driving.

But from the other driver’s perspective, we are. And we suck.

It’s just a matter of perspective.

Even at times when we know we’re being rude by tailgating or running a red light because we’re in a hurry, we forgive ourselves because we feel justified for doing it. And because of that, we often forget our actions (driving aggressively) and only think or our intentions (not being late).

“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” – George Carlin

I’m only using driving as an example because it’s easy to relate to. This issue of perspective goes far beyond driving and into every aspect of our lives.

The key is being open-minded and empathetic enough to see it.

Another problem with the expression “be yourself” is that many people have never truly taken the time to question who they really are and how they know what they know.

Basically, they haven’t asked themselves, “What kind of person am I really and why am I like this?”

When people really dig deep, they come to realize that they’ve been influenced by things that go far beyond themselves. That they haven’t always been in complete control of what they’ve learned or how they were “trained” to be.

As children we often just accept things as we are told without truly questioning how we truly feel about these things.

And as adults, we often justify our actions based on a, “well everyone else is doing it and that’s just the way it is” mentality.

“My friends are into this, so it must be cool.”
“My family has always done things this way, so I will teach my family to do it this way, too.”
“The advertisements are great and I see them everywhere, the product must be good.”
“This doesn’t seem right, but it seems like it’s generally accepted by everyone, so it must be ok.”

We often spend so much of our lives living under the influence of our friends, family, advertising, and societal pressures, that we just assume that our opinions — or our desires — are our own.

This can be compounded by the fact that, not only do we grow accustomed to acting a certain way, all of those that know us learn to expect a certain set of behaviors from us as well.

So in order to maintain expectations, we maintain our behavior — even at times when our internal desire is to act otherwise. We have learned from previous experience that to deviate from our expected behavior can lead us to disappoint those who know us — or at least uncomfortably surprise them.

So rather than run the risk of rocking boats, we often succumb to the pressures of staying within our “behavior box” — which is to say, the boundaries of what is considered our “normal behavior” or our respective roles within family and friendships.

While some people will eventually exert their independence over time and break the bounds of their behavior box, others remain within this box out of fear of some form of rejection by friends or family. Because even though these behaviors no longer feel genuine, they feel more comfortable than what we fear might happen if we deviate from the status quo.

This is often illustrated when one plays a specific role or adopts a specific set of behaviors within a family (or circle of friends) and then adopts another more genuine set of behaviors elsewhere.

To act in this fashion, being real in one set of circumstances and false in another, is to sacrifice our true selves — and our integrity — and it can affect everything in our lives, from the types of jobs we hold, to what we buy with our money, to the type of people we have relationships with, and where we go on vacation.

These are not trivial things as they often build upon each other — until eventually, one finds themselves living a lifestyle that no longer fits. And while this lifestyle may conform to the expectations of others — and even appear to thrive on the surface (ie. “the perfect career” or “the perfect marriage”) — it can lead to a sense of unhappiness and discontent because the life being lived isn’t in harmony with one’s genuine desires.

This is why it’s important to know and “To thine own self be true.” (Shakespeare)

“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.” – Lao Tzu

While the saying, “The self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.” (Thomas Szasz) is true, unless you’re conscious of — and take an active positive role in — your own development, the person you reflexively think you are may not be the true you. This is especially the case when your own behavior and actions betray you, such as at times when when you’re not feeling well or you act purely out of reflex.

“Men best show their character in trifles, where they are not on their guard. It is in the simplest habits, that we often see the boundless egotism which pays no regard to the feelings of others and denies nothing to itself.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

While we may not like every aspect of who we are at all times, we are always responsible for how we act, regardless of how we feel. And it is especially those aspects of ourselves that we don’t like that we should work on.

This can include such things as raising one’s voice in an argument (instead of improving one’s argument), snapping at people when one is not feeling well, or escalating a situation when one knows it is exactly the opposite of what they want.

Because they are so engrained, working on these less-than-desirable qualities of character often isn’t a simply a matter of making a decision sticking with it. But if one persistently strives for consistency — instead of perfection — one can, over time, alter any of their behaviors to those they consider more representative of the person they want to be.

This can be a process for a number of reasons. In some cases, we may have conformed to our behavior box — and the expectations of others — for so long, that we need to experiment with the freedom of acting from true self desire in order to find the newer behaviors that feel right. This can mean taking responsibility for one’s self in a way that no longer seeks the approval or acceptance of others.

Or in the case of old undesirable habits, it can require many tries before new, more desirable habits replace reflexive responses.

Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.” — Deepak Chopra

This whole process of forging one’s character can require a sort of reinvention of one’s self — and this reinvention can affect everything in one’s life. But if living true to one’s self and with integrity is one of the goals — and true happiness, comfort, and contentment with one’s authentic self is another, then the process of reinvention is a worthwhile one.

“As we allow the process of reinvention we often have to leave jobs, locations, people and things behind.” — Bethany Eaton (When your life no longer fits – reinvent!)

It is not until we take the time to question who we are, what we know, and how we know what we know that we begin to truly find ourselves. And it isn’t until we’ve deliberately distinguished ourselves from our influences that our genuine self is revealed.

And if you’re truly living life to the fullest, doesn’t that not only encompass continuously and boldly reaching out for newer, richer experiences, but also taking an active role in how those experiences alter you as a result of having them?

Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.” — Barbara De Angelis

“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.” — Henry David Thoreau

Unless you know who you are, you will always be vulnerable to what people say.” — Dr. Phil

“The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.” – John Dewey

“Not till we are lost do we begin to find ourselves.” – Henry David Thoreau

The problem with the expression “Be yourself”

You don’t have to wait for acceptance or permission to do great things


If one is to fulfill their potential in life, it’s important to realize that nearly all new and original ideas, products, and causes face rejection, criticism, and even ridicule before they’re accepted.

In short, even the best, brightest, and most beneficial ideas, products, and causes have critics.

You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be someone who hates peaches.” – Dita Von Tease

A study by Cornell University even confirms this. Researchers concluded that that people are actually biased against creative ideas (Why great ideas get rejected (99u article) — based on the Cornell Study : PDF).

Nearly every great accomplishment in life requires a person to act boldly and take action on the ideas that one believes in order to not yield the power of one’s potential to the fear of rejection.

When acting on your creative ideas, always keep in mind that you’re not doing what you’re doing for the critics. And regardless of how good your idea is, there will nearly always be someone in the world who hates it.

Don’t hesitate to do something simply because you are afraid of how it will be received.  Just do it. Don’t worry if everyone doesn’t like it — or even understand it at first.

You don’t have to wait for acceptance or permission to do great things.

If you truly want to make a positive difference in the world, start now — and correct your course as you go.


“If I care to listen to every criticism, let alone act on them, then this shop may as well be closed for all other businesses. I have learned to do my best, and if the end result is good then I do not care for any criticism, but if the end result is not good, then even the praise of ten angels would not make the difference.” – Abraham Lincoln


“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” – Aristotle


“They disparage one who remains silent, they disparage one who talks a lot, they disparage one who talks in moderation.” — Buddha quoting a saying (from Dhammapada)




You don't have to wait for acceptance or permission to do great things

The problem with problems.

The problem with problems:


Easy to find, easy to create, and easy to spread.

The world is full of problems. So why be the person that feels the need to highlight them wherever you go? There is no glory in it. There’s no reward. It’s the easiest thing in the world to do, so why take it upon yourself to be that person?

When people want bad news, all they have to do is turn on the television. After all, there are stations devoted to it 24/7.

“The news media are, for the most part, the bringers of bad news… and it’s not entirely the media’s fault, bad news gets higher ratings and sells more papers than good news.” — Peter McWilliams (reposted from: Day 184: A tough pill to swallow.)

“But I must point out the problems so they get fixed!”

If all you’re doing is pointing out problems — problems with the government, problems with the economy, problems with your job market, problems with customer service, problems with the environment, problems with [insert any number of countless problems here], are you really doing anything to effectively alleviate those problems? Or are you simply taking it upon yourself to point out problems and hoping that someone else fixes them?

Pointing out problems doesn’t fix problems. Solutions fix problems.

There is a difference between drawing attention to a cause that needs attention, and simply pointing out problems. Causes are solution-oriented, not problem-focused.

Read moreThe problem with problems.

The problem with problems.