We tend to judge ourselves through the eyes of other people. Many people spend more than they can afford just to impress their friends. If you want a joyful life, learn to care less about what others think.
I recently considered buying a nicer apartment so I could host more parties. Then I realised that the kind of people I wanted at my parties were those that didn’t care what kind of place I lived in. They were there for the friendship. That moment of clarity probably saved me hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt.
“We probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of us if we could know how seldom they do.”
– Olin Miller
Care less about what other think, but care a little
On the other hand, there are people who don’t care at all what others think. These are the blatant lawbreakers and psychopaths. We are social animals and live in communities, and so cannot completely disregard the opinions of others.
So how much is enough? When do we allow for the views of others and when should we learn to ignore them?
Care less about what most people think
You should greatly value some people’s views because of their wisdom or their relationship to you. These include your parents, spouse, children, closest friends, spiritual leader, and perhaps one or two mentors.
Once you know who these select few are, care less about what everyone else thinks. They simply don’t have a very large role in your life. Even if they disapprove of you in some way, that disapproving thought lasts mere seconds in their minds, after which they are busy thinking about other things. Why should your decisions be based on the fleeting judgments of these remote players in your life’s story?
Remember that opinions are not facts
Any person’s opinion is not an objective truth of the universe, just that person’s perspective. And that person is flawed just like you, so there is no guarantee that his opinion is more correct than yours.
Of course, if all your mentors and respected advisors offer the same advice, you would do well to listen. On the other hand, your life is not something to be decided by a committee vote. It is yours and no one else’s. You’re the only person who knows what’s best for you.
What others think can change
If everyone cautions you against taking the risk of starting your own business, but you do it anyway and succeed after a few years, would their opinion still be the same? If you were to propose expanding your business or starting another one, their opinions would probably be different this time.
You have more influence over the opinions of others than you think, through your actions and the results they bring. Your time and energies are therefore better spent pondering your course of action than fretting about what others will think about what you do.
“The feeble tremble before opinion, the foolish defy it, the wise judge it, and the skillful direct it.” – Jeane Platiere