The key to happiness is to stop getting upset all the dang time

I spent a few years working on a project for a big soccer league. One guy on the team had spent some time back in the day writing embedded software for medical equipment. He came from a world where a bug could mean someone dies.

Whenever something broke on the league’s website, say the stats were wrong or live scores weren’t updating, everyone lost their crap except for that guy. “It’s just soccer,” he said as he fixed everything. “Nobody’s going to die.”

He taught me that sometimes we all need to care just a little bit less.

A Twitter thread reminded me of that guy recently. The thread talks about the difference between being “serious” and “sincere” in life.

Ever played a game against someone who forgot it was a game? My grandmother is like that with the card game Bridge. Bridge is not entertainment for her. It’s about pride and victory. She’s “serious” about Bridge.

Nobody likes playing a game against someone like that. It takes the fun out of it for everyone.

If she were able to keep the passion and the dedication but still have fun with it, then she’d be “sincere” about Bridge. Sincere people still care just as much as serious people, but in a different way. Sincere people remember that it’s a game and don’t get all in a tizzy when things don’t go their way. Sincere people know that “it’s just soccer.”

I heard a description of Stoicism on a podcast a few months back. They talked about how life always tries to get your goose, and Stoicism is the art of “preventing your goose from becoming gotten”. That’s sincerity.

Can we stop being so “serious” about the game that is life and start being “sincere” about it? Can we keep the passion, hard work, and growth but swap the upset-edness for silliness and joy?

After all, it’s just soccer.


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