Time, Energy, and BS

A special post from T.S., a GGTW reader

I was born a “straight shooter.” I live by the “say what you mean and mean what you say” philosophy because I believe life is short, and the days are even shorter, so I’m not going to waste time dancing around my truth. 

A friend I’ve known for more than three decades calls me her “honest” friend. She’s not implying her other friends aren’t honest. She’s just acknowledging that I’ll call it like I see it, and won’t gush platitudes and tell her what I think she wants to hear. She knows I’m never going to bullshit her. I’m going to tell her exactly what I think or feel about any given situation. Do I do it with compassion and care? Of course – you don’t have to be an asshole to be honest.

Woman with determined look.

Here’s what I know: every day we waste precious time and energy on bullshit. You’ve probably got a certain level of BS in every aspect of your life – job, friends, family – there’s plenty of BS to go around. While I don’t think it’s possible to remove BS from our lives entirely, I do think there are steps we can take to reduce our exposure and limit the influence it can have over us. 

Which begs the question: How do you decide what is or isn’t bullshit? 

That’s totally up to you. I’m not here to tell you what is or isn’t bullshit. What I hope to accomplish is to help you figure out how to identify the BS in your life, and encourage you to do something to change how much of your time, energy, and focus you lose to it.  

My Real-life Example

I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions, but on December 31, 2017, I decided to commit to 30 days of removing stressful social media accounts from my feed. 

Before you roll your eyes, this isn’t a referendum on social media. It’s about how I took steps to eliminate something I felt was dragging me down and holding me back (AKA, bullshit).

So before I went to meet my friends and ring in the New Year, I muted, blocked, and un-followed any accounts that caused me to react negatively (anger, fear, frustration, helplessness). Basically, if it didn’t bring a smile to my face, inspire me, or to borrow from Mari Kondo, “bring me joy,” then I wasn’t following it. 

About That FOMO

My initial fear was that I’d be missing out on the “important” news and events of the day, and I’d be a social outcast. How would I manage conversations without being up-to-date on current events? People might think I’m ignorant, uneducated or worse (gulp!), they might even think LESS of me.

But, what really happened is far more extraordinary than anything I had anticipated. 

My friends and I continued to talk about the “important” news, but I learned about it from their perspective. I heard opinions and thoughts from people I genuinely cared about, instead of from some sound bite, click bait from a stranger, or an influencer who slid into my feed because of some mysterious algorithm. It was raw, honest dialogue that made our friendships stronger. 

You’d be surprised at what you still hear or learn about even when you aren’t following those “important” accounts directly. Here’s the thing: the accounts I kept continued to post about world news, headlines, and current events. I still saw enough to give me a taste of information and let me decide if I wanted to know more. For example, I learned (in real time) about the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral from the public relations guy of one of the sports teams I follow. Didn’t see that one coming, did you? Me either. 

The Aftermath

Thirty days came and went. I felt so solid and true in my choice to eliminate those negative emotional experiences on social media that I kept going. Now, more than 480 days later…I think it’s safe to say this is a lifestyle choice. 

My friends and I are (re)connecting in meaningful, authentic ways that aren’t tied to whatever headline is dominating the news. Instead of conversations lamenting the current state of whatever, we spend time laughing and sharing what is happening in our own lives – advancing the depth of our relationships. 

I never feel like I’m out of the loop on news and events. I’m happier, more light-hearted, and don’t have the feeling that the world is on fire every minute of every day. The sense of dread and outrage that permeated my heart every time I opened an app on my phone is gone. This doesn’t make me any less driven to engage and help problem-solve in my community or around the globe, but it does make me focus and clarify how and where I want to spend my time and energy.

The Heavy Stuff

I get that social media BS is pretty low hanging fruit and easy to eliminate. Maybe your bullshit involves something more significant in your life, like your job or your family. These areas definitely require more effort to figure out. But you can figure them out, because you deserve better. Anyone who tries to wear you out or tear you down and cause you harm (intentional or unintentional) doesn’t deserve you.

Woman looking down

But, You Didn’t Answer The Question

How do you decide what is or isn’t bullshit?

There are no hard and fast rules here,  but I do have one little trick I use. I don’t know where this idea came from, (and my apologies to someone I’m possibly not giving credit to) but I do know it’s a learned behavior, and eventually, with enough practice you get better at recognizing bullshit when you see it. 

Woman at desk with open notebook

If you’re questioning whether or not something is the type of BS that is distracting you or preventing you from living your best life, ask yourself: 

Will this matter in 10 seconds? Will this matter in 10 minutes? …in 10 hours? …in 10 days? 10 weeks? 10 months? 10 years?

For me, generally, anything that won’t matter in 10 weeks or less is probably bullshit. Of course there are nuances to every situation, but you get the idea. In any given moment, you decide what’s bullshit, and you decide how to react to it.

Start Simple

  • #MoreAuthenticity Surround yourself with others who live authentically. Recognize that anyone who isn’t authentic is exhausting. If you’re trying to keep up, they’re only going to bring you down. 
  • #FewerToxicPeople Set boundaries to reduce your interactions and engagement with toxic people. Try talking less frequently on the phone, or plan visits so you only have a limited window of time to engage or interact with them. 
  • #LessBS Evaluate how much bullshit is in your life, decide how to remove it (and actually do it!), and then, forget about it. Once you’re aware of how your distractions are affecting you, you can take the steps to change your behavior and reclaim your time and energy so that you may focus on experiences and people that nurture and feed your soul. Go Get The World and leave the BS behind!
European canal

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