Be Ruthless To The Things That Don't Matter

Be Ruthless To The Things That Don't Matter

“One of the hardest things to do in life is to say “No.” To invitations, to requests, to obligations, to the stuff that everyone else is doing. Even harder is saying no to certain time-consuming emotions: anger, excitement, distraction, obsession, lust.”

— Ryan Holiday. “The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity.”

I’ve been trying to follow this rule: “Be Ruthless To The Things That Don’t Matter”, for some time now. Even before I read this passage.

Actually, in Gain Focus By Learning To Say No To Yourself, I wrote about how hard has traditionally been for me to say “No” to new projects and ideas in my mind. I have always struggled to avoid the “shinny object syndrome” and focus in just what I’m working on at the moment.

Fortunately, I have got a lot better at that. Decluttering my life and embracing a digital nomad lifestyle has helped me understand what’s important and get rid of the rest.

Be Ruthless to the Things that Don’t Matter

However, this also applies to emotions, when they consume us to the point of becoming a distraction or an obsession.

As an example, I used to be an angry, even aggressive driver when I owned a car. After a traffic confrontation, I would usually stay angry and irascible for the rest of the day, reliving the situation in my mind again and again. What should I have said, what should I have done…

Still today, it’s easy for me to fall into a vicious circle when I am under a strong emotion, either positive or negative.

If I have a sudden idea for something new late at night, I will start thinking on that idea. As a result, I will have trouble sleeping. Conversely, If my feelings get hurt, I will keep on thinking on that moment, what happened and what could have happened.

Obviously, during those periods, I am not making a constructive use of my time, or enjoying it.

Thus, it’s obvious for me that I have to learn to control those emotional spirals. Learn to say “No”. Just as I learned to say “No” to projects I cannot handle or to requests I cannot accomplish.

So, next time I find myself in one of those situations, I am going to try to relax. Maybe even meditate. Then, I’ll try to come back to a more restful, conscious state of mind.


I completely agree with today’s Daily Stoic: “Be Ruthless To The Things That Don’t Matter”. I’ve been trying to apply that to physical stuff, projects and requests for some time now. However, what I was missing was applying that very same concept to emotions, when they become get to the point of becoming an obsession.

I still have no clear plan for that, but I will try next time and see what happens. Any recommendations? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment :).