post written by: Marc Chernoff

9 Things You Need to Stop Caring About


9 Things You Are Better Off Without

“Often, it’s not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be.”
― Heath L. Buckmaster

About a decade ago, when I told my grandmother that I was worried about making a significant life change and then regretting my choice, she said, “Do you know what my biggest regret is?  Not taking more chances and making necessary changes when I was your age.”  Her words have been stuck in the back of my mind ever since, and they have helped me make many positive choices in life.  This is especially true whenever I bump up against the reality that something in my life isn’t working, and that it’s perhaps time to make some changes.

If you are currently facing a similar reality, ask yourself this:  “What am I focusing on that isn’t working?”

A big part of your life is the result of what you choose to focus on.  If you don’t like something, it’s time to choose differently.  Don’t be afraid to let go of your old ways and start over today.  It’s a brand new opportunity to rebuild what you truly want.

Here are nine things I have addressed and purged in my own life – some common emotional traps we are all better off NOT caring about:

1.  Old regrets.

You don’t have to be defined by the things you did or didn’t do in the past.  Don’t let yourself be controlled by regret.  Maybe there’s something you could have done differently, or maybe not.  Either way, it’s merely something that has already happened.

Cleanse your heart of these regrets every night.  Just as your body needs regular washing because it gets dirty every day, so does your heart.  Because every day people may hurt you, offend you, forget you, snub you, step on you, or reject you.  But if you choose to forgive these people and let these things go before you go to sleep, you cleanse your heart.  You wake up the next morning refreshed and free of negativity.  Refuse to carry old regrets, mindsets and distractions into each new day.

2.  The excuses you’ve been telling yourself.

In life you always have one of two things, either you have the thing you are capable of achieving, or the reasons why you don’t.  Laziness may appear attractive, but dedication and work leads to fulfillment and happiness in the long run.  If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way; if you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.

Truthfully, almost anything is possible if you’ve got enough time and enough nerve.  What you need to remember is that you can’t always wait for the perfect time and conditions, because there may be no such thing.  Most of the time you must simply dare to jump.

And don’t say you don’t have enough time.  You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresea, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, etc…  (Read Flourish.)

3.  What you don’t have.

You will NEVER have enough time, enough resources, or enough money to do the perfect thing.  But what’s truly amazing is what you can achieve without “enough” of these supposed requirements.  Sooner or later you will come to realize that it’s not what you are missing that counts; it’s what you do with what you have.

To be upset about what you don’t have is always a waste of what you do have.  The happiest and most successful people aren’t the luckiest, and they usually don’t have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes their way.  The reason so many people give up is because they tend to look at what’s missing, and how far they still have to go, instead of what’s present, and how far they have come.

4.  Always feeling safe and comfortable.

To play it too safe is one of the riskiest choices you can make.  By leaving your comfort zone behind and taking a leap of faith into something new, you find out who you are truly capable of becoming.  Obstacles are put in your way to help you determine if what you want is really worth fighting for.

Remember, the strongest people are the ones who feel pain and discomfort, accept it, fight through it, and learn from it.  They turn their wounds into wisdom and growth.

5.  Fear of failure.

If you are too afraid of failure, you can’t possibly do what needs to be done to be successful.  Your desire to succeed must overpower your fear of failure.

Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what could be.  Just keep going and keep thinking, “I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday!”  Inevitably, you will make lots of mistakes and you will feel plenty of pain, but in life, mistakes make you smarter and pain makes you stronger.

Bottom line:  Don’t worry about mistakes too much, because some of the most beautiful things we create in life come from changes we make after failures.

6.  Relationships that suck the happiness out of you.

Give, but don’t get used.  Never waste too much of your time on someone who doesn’t value it.

A good relationship doesn’t drag you down, it lifts you up.  Listen to positive people and ignore negative ones.  People that doubt, judge and disrespect you are not worth your time and attention.  Life gets easier when you delete the people that make it difficult.  All failed relationships hurt, but losing someone who doesn’t appreciate and respect you is actually a gain, not a loss.

Being alone in the long run is far better than being with someone who doesn’t appreciate your worth.  Know your worth.  Know the difference between what you’re getting and what you deserve.  There comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans for the people who won’t even jump a puddle for you.  (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

7.  Being rewarded for every good deed you do.

Most of the time the people who want more than they need end up losing everything altogether.  Greed and selfishness will get you nowhere in life.  The happiest, most successful people are looking for ways to help others.  The unhappiest, most unsuccessful people are still asking, “What’s in it for me?”

A life filled with loving deeds and good character is the best tombstone.  Those who you inspired and shared your love and compassion with will remember how you made them feel long after your time has expired.  So carve your name on hearts, not stone.  What you have done for yourself alone dies with you; what you have done for others and the world remains.

8.  Shallow judgments.

It’s impossible to know exactly how another person is feeling or what kind of emotional battles they’re fighting.  Sometimes the widest smiles hide the thinnest strands of self-confidence and hope.  Sometimes the ‘rich’ have everything but happiness.  Realize this as you interact with others, long before you pass judgment.  Every smile or sign of strength hides an inner struggle every bit as complex and extraordinary as your own.

It’s a sage fact of life, really, that every one of us encompasses a profound and unique set of secrets and mysteries that are absolutely undetectable to everyone else.  So smile at people who look like they are having a rough day today.  Be kind to them.  Kindness is the only investment that never fails.

9.  Your obsession with the end result.

Fulfillment is not a matter of achieving a specific goal; it is a matter of mindfully enjoying the process required to achieve that goal.  Fulfillment flows from focusing your life around specific and authentically held intentions – ideas and activities that genuinely speak to your purpose.  When these intentions are clear, consistent and meaningful, you have sufficient means to bring fulfillment and joy to your life, whether you ever fully achieve your intended goal or not.

In other words, it’s the process of following your path that’s important, not the speed at which you progress down it.  Happiness is found during the journey, not at the destination.  Slow down so you can appreciate the forest for each of its trees.  You have a better chance of truly seeing where you are when you stop spending every waking moment trying to get somewhere else.

Take the time to celebrate the goodness surrounding you and how far you’ve come, rather than focusing exclusively of what’s still left to be done.  (Read Learned Optimism.)

Next steps…

Do you hold too tight to your comfort zone?  Do you judge yourself and others unfairly?  Do you let someone constantly suck the happiness out of you?  You know which of the points above apply to you.  Pick one and focus on improving in that area every day for the next 30 days.

The floor is yours…

So which of the points above are you struggling with most right now?  What else would you add to the list?  Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights with us.

Photo by: Martin Fisch

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45 Comments

  • Number one is my biggest struggle. Regrets… I’m just starting to grasp that there comes a time when you have to stop thinking about your mistakes and move on. No regrets in life - just lessons that show you the way forward.

    Your blog and book have helped me tremendously with this realization over the past several months. So thank you for that.

  • No. 9 I learned through knitting. At first I’d get so upset about having to rip back but now it doesn’t bother me at all. It’s weird, but somehow that lesson translates into the rest of life, making it easier to focus on the process instead of the result.

  • I’m with J.J. on this one… For the longest time, I regretted the decisions I made in the past and let this regret disrupt my present to the point of feeling miserable and worthless. Blogs and books like yours have gradually set me back on track. For me, the frequent reminders of positivity, purpose and hope light my path and motivate me to keep stepping forward. Regrets be gone!

  • Many of your points here reminded me of this saying:

    “And to thine own self be true…”

    This is something we all need to be reminded of. Thank you.

  • This was sooooo written for me this morning! Having spent most of my life doing what others wanted me to do, I finally took on a role that was my own, only to have it yanked away from me from people I trusted. But I have grown a lot from the whole experience.. sart to end… but am left with a lot of pain and sorrow at the loss. That is what I am trying to deal with… and NOT be afraid to stretch out of my “zone” again. Thank you for this post and all of your posts. I treasure them.

  • I think my issue is a relationship that sucks happiness out of me, but now I have decided not to put up with it anymore. He doesn’t appreciate me, which stops me from respecting myself sometimes.

  • Just by reading this, I realized I spend a huge amount of time thinking about who loves me and if I am loved and probably reaching out to activate my need. I love me and I am going to focus on moving forward toward being loving rather than counting who is on my side.

  • Security & the comfort zone have always been too seductive to turn down. Hard to change old habits after so many years.

  • #2 I have so many excuses for everything. Have the time, but not the nerve to try, and yes, it is true that if you don’t try, you will have an excuse for it.

    #5 Failure, most important. “Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what could be.”

    Of course both of these take me out of my comfort zone, and as I keep reading these posts, I am taking baby steps.

    Thank you for more reality, and to the readers who leave comments. People are all alike, even when we think we are the only one with a certain problem. These have given me the courage to even leave my own comments.

  • For me, worry and second-guessing myself are the biggest obstacles to moving forward. I have to work daily to step out of worry and self-doubt (fear based thinking) into self-love and my foundational understanding that the universe is kind - there is enough. All is well…..

  • No.1 and No. 6 are the big ones for me. I struggle daily with these 2 issues and see them being linked together. I am constantly disappointed that people don’t live up to my expectations and are not as attentive to the friendship. There is a lack of acceptance in my part for who they are and their limitations.
    The disappointment then leads to regrets about how I deal with it and I judge myself harshly. This makes me sad and it’s a joyless experience. My brain is in the way of my heart.

  • #1 , #2, #4, #6 …
    Everything you said is so true but these ones listed above have very much affected my life. Honestly, laziness can be attractive but i found that eventually getting up and doing something and the satisfaction of doing the thing is more attractive by far; it even helps your self- esteem.

    Being afraid even begins to feel safe in its own way because it keeps you taking chances, making decisions, but its not healthy. it encourages excuses. I learned to be bold and head out; do the necessary things when they should be done.

    Getting out of what i call “toxic relationships” is one of the best things anyone can do for themselves. It saves your time and infact your entire life… What i have learned? Never hang on to anything or anybody that does you no good; Its a good step towards loving yourself in the most unselfish way.

    I learn from every thing you ever write. keep it up. Much blessings.

  • This post is so true and moving to me. What do you suggest doing when a loved one is living getting their happiness sucked out of them but is in denial about it. It is so difficult to watch and heartbreaking at the same time. Hope you reply!

  • Awesome article!

    It’s so easy to get drawn into these problems and not realise the negative effects it has towards your life in the long run.

    One of the biggest things I try to personally remind myself of is the idea that the present is all we have. This forces me to focus only the things that will help me move forward. Everything else simply becomes a distraction.

  • Oh my, I can look at all these and at some time or other I have been guilty of Caring about these. I especially am struggling with Fear of Failure….need to move forward without a net.
    Thank you for the list.

  • I literally hate myself. I don’t even know why. I had a great childhood (basically). I have a wonderful life now. (only a few hiccups). Its like I am haunted by a life I never lived. Strange, I know. These points above resonated with me. Regrets, excuses, fears and obsessions….pffft..that’s my daily menu. So, what did I do? I ran to the therapist and said fix me!! Fix me!! Well to my surprise, I am “normal”. I can not say that I was not a bit disappointed. I HAD to have SOMETHING wrong. Please just diagnose me so I can be happy. Nope, nadda, nothing. I take that back, I was diagnosed with OCD. I was told only I could “cure” that through months and months of therapy. Well, clearly she didn’t hear me, fix me now. I don’t want to hurt, I don’t want to cry and find out what the root is…I just want it gone. I just realized I am rambling. Have a wonderful day…with no regrets. That’s what I’m trying to do…

  • I lost my job last month so I am forced to kick #4 to the curb. Have to admit it is the scariest and yet most wonderful moment of my life. I’ve been given a gift of time (at least for a little while) to reinvent myself because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. As for #5, no sense me getting worked up over it now. :)

  • This is a great post. Thanks for the reminder.

    I just started a writing project a friend described as “ambitious” and I’m fighting through being so intimidated by it, it paralyzes me. Haha! Ambitious doesn’t even describe the half of it. It’s the most heavily researched, complicated script I’ve written, and I go from confident to fear of failure about a hundred times a day. Five acts, story and substory, ensemble of characters, true-life events and people, dialogue (what intimidates me the most) timing, pacing, plot points, theme, etc… What if I can’t pull it off? What if I get a detail wrong that puts my integrity and credibility on the line? What if the angle I’m taking with the subject matter isn’t the angle I should be taking? Every new discovery and look into the research brings on a new wave of self-doubt.

    It’s the first time I’ve written a script where I actually worried about what other people will think of it while I’m writing it. So I’m struggling with getting back in the mindset that I’m writing it for myself and if other people don’t like it, fuck them, or at the very least, I can make adjustments later, but so far, I’m not there yet. And then I worry that all this worrying is going to make my writing boring and I won’t take the chances I normally take with a script. It’s a vicious cycle.

    So now I’m here distracting myself from doing what I should be doing before I dive back into the abyss. Thanks for that. :D

    Are there any other writers or artists here who struggle with this? How do you get past it?

  • I think this post touched a lot of people. Some other things that I have stopped caring about:

    Somebody else’s definition of success. I am building my own, and the more I do, the happier I feel.

    Stop caring about your next move. It does not need to be big, or perfectly planned, or well executed, or be publically announced. Just make it!!

    Stop caring about the money. Yes I said it. Money is an emotional state most of the time. It can lock you up faster than any other non-person can. Only love has broken more hearts. Don’t let it rule you.

  • # 8 resonates with me. I catch myself comparing how complex I am against people I don’t even know: how many layers I have, what I can offer in a relationship, and how unique I am. I shortchange others by prejudging them based on a glance, on how they ‘must be’. My snap judgements happen without thinking.
    The good side (and there is always a good side!) is that I’ve made myself aware of this habit, and by being aware, I can choose to act different in that moment, again and again, until that new thought process becomes my habit.
    I recall reading something once: when I catch myself not being the way I want, I can either beat myself up and try again, or, just try again. I can happily say that the second way is now most often my habit.

  • I struggle with all of these on a pretty frequent basis. Things I know I need to stop caring about so much, but it’s hard. Thank you for this latest wake-up call.

  • Number 9 is so important to me at the moment! I am researching like a mad women to see if I can make a crazy business idea viable… I have my eye on the end product but am going to need to stop and enjoy the learning process. If it all goes awry and isn’t viable, the learning process will be all I have!

    Loved this post…actually love them all but felt compelled to comment today!

  • #6 resonates with me right at this very moment.

    I know this particular relationship “sucks” the life out of me but when you are familiar with someone, you tend to think that is the best for you right now. But after reading your posts and articles for a couple of months now, I am beginning to realize my worth and realize how important it is to love myself first.

  • My favorite tip of this batch is #3 “What you don’t have”

    I think to many people stress over what they do not have that they cannot take the time to enjoy the things they DO have. I think I am pretty good at this one, but it is always great to get a reminder to enjoy all the things I am blessed to have.

    On the other hand #9 is something that I sometimes have a problem with. Consciously I know that the process is the thing that matters, but unconsciously I find myself being impatient and wanting results NOW and getting a bit frustrated when things do not happen as quickly as I would like.

    Also a great reminder that the things that stress us out are our own inventions more often than not.

    -sJ

  • I don’t believe in making public proclamations of that with which I’m struggling…and that’s part of why things generally tend to click well for me. :)

    But to answer the question you pose, Marc…the one that resonates most is “fear of failure.” Risk is always something to be measured, as in, “what is the worst case scenario if I fail at whatever I set out to do?” I will not ever leave my family in a spot where my failure jeopardizes their well being, so financial risk is always managed.

    But as far as other kinds, I actually enjoy making myself somewhat vulnerable…not in broadcasting weakness, but in being willing to do things where the outcome is uncertain. Being a professional trainer who uses juggling as a medium, that’s the way I roll! Drops and slip ups happen. But that also empowers the audience to be willing to risk stuff.

  • I struggle with no. 3 here…

    I always look for what I do not have without appreciating with what I have.

    I keep asking questions like, “What if I do have this and that?” This is just a hindrance for me to do what is right with what I have.

    Thanks for this entry. Now I will focus on learning how to appreciate things that I have from now on.

    Keep writing and keep inspiring.
    Love lots!

    Reydan from Manila

  • Thanks Larry. Great point and you’re right. What’s the worst that can happen? If my script sucks and nobody wants it, then I’m no worse off than I am now. But at least I made the effort the best way I could. And taking risks is fun. So why not?

    Hmmm… maybe I should put a sign on the wall in front of my computer that says “what’s the worst that can happen?” so I’ll remember this at the onset of another moment of self-doubt. :D

  • And Larry, as far as “broadcasting weaknesses” goes. It’s not weakness. It’s called being human, and it’s a temporary moment in time everybody goes through at some point. Shared experiences and talking it out helps in coping and/or overcoming. And in my case specifically, transparency is essential in establishing trust, integrity and credibility, and it has worked out very well for me.

    Secrets, manipulation, being fake, shaming people… these aren’t just annoying and destructive to establishing and maintaining trust, but they’re toxic in the long run.

  • I love your wisdom and it has helped me so many times. I keep a file of my favorites and read them often!

    I especially loved “There comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans for the people who won’t even jump a puddle for you.” It made me laugh and reminded me that this is something I have done way too much of. Sad to say, but I have very few friends because I learned (during the hard times of my life) that they were exactly that…people who wouldn’t even jump a puddle for me…not there when I needed them after always being there for them. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Number 6 because there are many relationships that don’t make me happy…

  • I enjoyed each and every point.

  • Great article once again! And the one you should stop caring the most is the fear of failure!

  • I really like #4. I have found that I always learn the most and make the most progress in life when I step outside my comfort zone.

  • Hey Marc&Angel
    I like the way you guys think - thank you for this. You guys are actually helping a lot of depressed people out there. Thank you. Any way, I have a question to ask you if possible i would like to know your answer…any way the question may sound silly …”What will you wish if you were given one wish?”

  • There are so many things in life that people care about too much, and the 9 you added here are really great. I myself need to let go of #4 as I want to enjoy life all that little bit more.

  • #1 old regrets, is something I used to find hard to deal with until I came to the conclusion That I had to forgive. At first this I found difficult, but persevered.
    It worked for me!

  • Stacey: I hope that you can learn to love yourself. that’s what you need to do first. one tiny step towards this is being grateful. find a few things to be grateful for every day! Is your bed comfy? I am so grateful to wake up or go to sleep in this cozy place. Did you notice the sky today? Then be grateful for the blue sky or the beautiful cloud formations. you say you have a good life: look at all the wonderful things you had or have. List them, smile over them.

    Do you have a child or children in your life? Your own, friends’ kids, nieces, nephews? be grateful for them — you can learn much from their perspective.

    Be grateful for a happy childhood. I work with kids who don;t or didn’t. Thank your parents or the the caregivers who raised you. Be grateful that you do NOT have a mental illness. But go a little crazy once in a while and dance and smile and laugh. It helps sooooo much.

  • Number One - Old Regrets is most definitely my biggest struggle, especially right now. That really drew me into this article and opened my eyes and mind to what I need to work on.

    Thank You for your articles.

  • I read this because I think that I care way too much about things that don’t matter. It’s been stressing me out and negatively affecting my current relationship. Thanks for sharing this, it really helped! :)

  • JJ and Dev: Thank you, as always.

    @Christy King: Great point. I think this is something many people forget. Life lessons are extremely transferable.

    @Elizabeth Tickle: Keep stretching that comfort zone on a regular basis. It sounds like your doing great.

    @Betsy: Excellent clarifications.

    @Lucia Antonelli: Tempering expectations is the key. And awareness is the first step to correcting this. Best to luck to you.

    @keren iyere: Agreed. Toxic relationships can be a real burden on all aspects of your life. Thanks for sharing your insight.

    kathy h.: At some point we all get involved in a serious relationship, be it falling in love with a significant other, or simply establishing an amazingly close friendship. As soon as this relationship is in place, both parties must do their part to nurture it. When they fail to do so, solidarity is gradually replaced with suffering. The best thing you can do is talk to your friend. Ask them the right questions. Support them. By doing so, hopefully they will come to their senses.

    @Steve: Congrats. =) Awareness is the foundation of problem solving.

    @Kate @ Our Little Sins: Thanks for the kind words.

    @Mara: So happy that our words are helping you. And yes, self-love must come first.

    @SJ Scott: I’ll admit, #9 is one I struggle with too. I often find myself hoping for quicker results. I have to remind myself that everything worthwhile takes time to develop.

    @Larry Hochman: Excellent points all around!

    @All: As always, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us. I will jump back in here over the next couple days and respond to the rest of the comments that warrant it.

  • Regrets have become one of my biggest issues too. The best thing to do is to act right away!

  • I really needed to read this. These ideas will help me bring truth to my life.
    Thanks

  • Wow. These words came to me in the right moment in the right time and my first thought was that I need to share the joy and enlightenment that this reading brought into my life. I think I’m not that far from the right path. Thank you. With kindness regards. Johnny

  • I am a subscriber to your blog and have to say that you’re finally getting through to me.

    I’m married to a man, ten years now, that although he is a good person, chooses to be very dependent on me. The resultant anger I feel for allowing myself to be taken advantage of. It has changed my personality so much that I’ve lost a very dear friendship. She says I’m not the same fun-loving person with him, as I am when it’s just myself and the girls. He gets very jealous if I go out with friends and he’s not included. When you have the personality of a limp dishrag, I can understand…..

    I enjoy socializing. He’d rather be a wall flower or not attend a function. He doesn’t contribute to convos. He’s 55. I am 49.

    We’ve discussed the issue several times. He simply says that’s just the way he is. Any further recommendations?

  • I can’t help smiling while reading this.

    You see I am 66 yrs old, and my two children have married and moved out of our home. That leaves me along most of the time.

    And when we are alone, and lonely, a lot of things come into our minds - mostly of the embarrassing or bad things we did in the past and what we could have done to make them better.

    Well, we never could, not matter how hard we try. And dwelling over them will just make our lots worse.

    So I have mastered, or rather formed the habit of pushing them aside and thinking, instead, of how to make the most of the rest of my years.

    And that holds true for elderly people like me.

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