“Want to be happy? Care less.” I’ve heard this line, or some form of it, perpetuated a lot lately. In some ways, I understand why. After all, everyone longs to be effortlessly cool. We all want that “I just rolled out of bed and swiped on some chapstick, but I’ll be damned if I don’t look awesome” kind of look.
The problem with effortless cool, is that, in my experience, it doesn’t really exist. To achieve that perfectly disheveled look requires much more time and attention than we’d like others to believe. It involves a lot of standing in front of mirrors, turning to different angles, and contorting our bodies into modelesque poses to make sure everything looks just right, but not too right. After all, if it looks too right, we’ve tried too hard and the coolness that we’ve put in so much effort — but, of course, not too much effort — to achieve, is lost.
Caring less, or pretending to care less, about personal appearance in attempt to acquire that elusive, effortlessly cool style isn’t really destructive in itself — unless, as anything, it’s taken to an unhealthy level. But, caring less about other aspects of life to be happier or seem cooler isn’t quite as harmless.
Caring less in the pursuit of happiness is like not allowing ourselves to think about the unsavory details so we don’t have to deal with the pesky emotions that they induce. The saying “ignorance is bliss” describes this practice perfectly. And should we really allow ourselves to remain ignorant of our emotions in order to be happy? If we don’t have any feelings, are we really happy at all?
When we care less to be cool, we hand a lot of power over to other people. We allow the opinions of others to influence how we perceive ourselves and dictate our own self worth. This is because, ultimately, being cool isn’t about whether we think of ourselves as cool or not; it’s about whether or not other people think we’re cool. And should the opinions of others really be granted that much power? Should we be the ones granting it so casually?
Subscribing to the idea that trying too hard or caring too much makes us less cool can also be the death sentence of our own aspirations. After all, if we follow this principle, we can’t allow ourselves to care about our hopes and dreams too much. We also can’t work for them too hard or take too much pride in them. According to the theory of effortless cool, our dreams are just sort of supposed to come true, you know, without us even trying.
But, like effortlessly cool personal style, achieving personal aspirations without trying is a myth. If a dream or goal is worth anything at all, it will require a lot of work. It will depend on investments of time and money. It will induce late nights, worry, stress, doubt, and fear. But, the real happiness resulting from the fulfillment of these dreams and goals will be worth all the struggles along the way.
In fact, knowing how much effort we’ve put in, how much we’ve sacrificed, and how much we’ve struggled to fulfill our dreams makes reaching them that much more rewarding. We tried despite our own self doubt and fear of failure. We tried despite the doubt and judgement placed on us by others. We tried and, even if we didn’t accomplish our original goal, we learned something, we grew, we made new friends, we gained experience. Maybe we even found a new dream. The important thing is that we tried and accomplished something when the alternative, not caring and, therefore, not trying, would accomplish nothing at all.