Simplify with Better Habits: The Discipline of Minding One’s Own Business

It’s taken me a while to get this one published; honestly, this is my fourth iteration of this post. Every time I wrote one, it either seemed too sanctimonious, too petty, or too self-deprecating to be useful. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had several experiences that left me confronted with both other people’s hurtfulness and my own shortcomings (more the latter than the former, unfortunately), and I thought I’d write about it since it’s becoming one of my “projects” in this journey to simplify life.

Don’t you love being “in the know?” I sure do. If I overhear some gossip, I’m curious as to what’s going on. If someone’s upset, I want to know why. If there’s heaviness and tension in the air, I want to know the cause. And along the same lines, I struggle with wanting to insert myself into conversations. If I overhear two people discussing something I’m interested in, or something in which I have helpful knowledge, my compulsion is to hop (uninvited) into the conversation and offer my insight, or experience, or the answer to the question they’re looking for. If someone needs help, I want to help them, sometimes even if it’s something that’s not my place to help with.

Do you ever find yourself wondering what people may be saying about you when you’re not around? I absolutely do. But here’s the problem with that: people don’t pay nearly as much attention to you as you think they do, which means that, if they ARE talking about you when you’re not around, it’s not usually a discussion of how sweet you are or how good you are at something. It’s often negative. A few weeks ago, I found out that someone I’m relatively close to snarked about one of my physical aspects behind my back. After I got over being pissed and feeling a little betrayed, it got me thinking. Why on earth would someone feel the need to criticize my appearance to someone they didn’t know well enough to realize they’d share that with me? Why does my appearance matter to someone else anyway (unless it’s impeding their life somehow)? But even more importantly: do I do that too? And, the unfortunate answer is yes, yes I have. Just as this other person should’ve been paying less attention to my business, thereby not ultimately tainting my feelings toward her, I should be minding my own business enough to keep from making that same mistake with others.

This article from Tiny Buddha offers insight; this preoccupation with others’ business makes us depressed, and removes our focus from learning to find contentment and thrive in our own circumstances.

The Bible tells us, literally, to mind our own business (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

The desire to know is natural; it’s part of being human. But just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

Minding my own business is a habit I’m seeking to instill in my simple-living journey. Ditching Facebook has been a wonderful start, and I’m hopeful that, as I continue to pare down things that create needless stress, I’ll have less of an urge to focus on the things that do.

Is this an area of your life that you need to work on, too? Will you join me?

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