in: Advice, Character, Sunday Firesides

• Last updated: June 1, 2021

Sunday Firesides: Care, But Don’t Care

illustration of folded paper hearts with "care but don't care" title.

“I want to be liked. I want to be loved. I want to be recognized. I want to be a success. I want to win. I want a happy resolution.”

“It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of me. I’m only competing with myself. I just want to do my own best. Whatever happens, happens. I don’t give a f*ck.”

We often switch between these two trains of thought multiple times a week, even multiple times a day. 

In the modern age, we frequently think our goal should be to squash the first and embody the second. 

But in truth, we need to hold the energy of both mindsets in tension.

If we focus too much on outcomes, we can lose track of our authentic desires, compromise our principles, art, or vision to please others and get ahead, and become vulnerable to equilibrium-destroying upset if things don’t turn out the way we hope.

Yet the desire to do one’s personal best isn’t truly what gets anyone out of bed in the morning. No one enjoys their work solely for the love of the process alone. We’re driven by competition and comparisons. We’re propelled by public accolades. We’re moved by feeling. We’re motivated by results.

Invest too much emotion, and we lose perspective; invest too little, and we lose interest. 

We need to go all-in on the pursuit of a certain outcome . . .  yet not allow our disappointment to become all-consuming if it eludes us. 

We need to crave affirmation . . . and yet be unwilling to sell out to get it.

We need to want things badly, even madly . . . yet be okay with not getting them.

This is the mysterious, contradictory, underrated state of being a passionate, Dionysian Stoic.

This is the paradoxical frame of caring but not caring.

This is life’s state of grace.

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