January 30, 2017 – You Don’t Have to Stay On Top of Everything


“If you wish to improve, be content to appear clueless or stupid in extraneous matters-don’t wish to seem knowledgeable. And if some regard you as important, distrust yourself.” – Epictetus, Enchiridion, 13a

In the previous meditation, I suggested multitasking is not a virtue by asking you to defy it. How many balls can you juggle until they begin to fall? And while you’re doing the juggling how much can you see beyond those balls? This topic was a tease for this meditation.

Who wants to feel stupid? Knowledge is power, right?

As I look around my house I see clutter. Papers in one spot, clothes in another, some dishes over there…hard to stay on top of being organized with work, school, time with friends, exercise, tending to the dogs, yard maintenance, laundry…

Sound familiar?

Some can pay to keep their house in order, some dedicate a good amount of time to it, while others just let the organization slide. Or, as the previous meditation reminded us, we can keep it simple. Lower that total cost of ownership.

My priorities are family, school, friends and work. Yes, work is last of my top four. Does that mean I am successful at not trying to stay on top of everything? Absolutely not. For me, knowledge is something I have valued most of my life. That means staying on top of social media, news outlets, and literature in general. Am I ever informed enough? No. In fact, I end up stressed because I feel like I’m failing to maintain the level of intelligence established.

What makes this funny is that when coaching football, raising my children and speaking at schools, I have always stressed the importance of saying “I don’t know”. I believe it’s the gateway to knowledge and wisdom. So why can’t I follow my own advice?

Having drinks with my good friend Josh last night, we talked about him being off Facebook. We shared how much better we feel when not inundated with so much information. He shared how is brother had become more politically active, and now posts regularly. We laughed because we both have been there. Not for vanity sake, but with a sincere desire to inform others.

But we discovered something about making this a goal. Not only is the burden to stay recent weigh heavy, but you’re also allowing yourself to be bombarded with information that has little value. Little time is left to formulate a course of action to address those things which you find need attention. Anger is an emotion that easily takes hold simply because of all the problems you can’t work on, or solve.

What is your happiness worth? How are things better if you’re “on top of things”, and are your really maintaining that level?

Be comfortable with saying you don’t know. Your value is not found in the information you have. It took me a while to be comfortable with this truth, but I’m much happier when I abide by it.

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