Do you ever find yourselves immersed in a sea of opinions and judgments?
The Stoic Roman philosophers Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus said that opinions often serve as needless distractions, robbing us of our inner peace and personal effectiveness and that true happiness lies in letting go of unwarranted opinions and freeing ourselves from unnecessary mental burdens.
The Weight of Opinions
Marcus Aurelius wisely reminds us, "Remember, you always have the power to have no opinion." This deceptively simple concept challenges the way we engage with the world around us. How often do we form judgments and opinions about matters that have little bearing on our lives? For example:
Office Decor: Imagine your coworker decides to decorate their workspace with unconventional art or posters that don't align with your personal taste. Having an opinion on their decor choices is unlikely to affect your own work, and is it not best to let them express themselves without judgment.
Meeting Schedules: Sometimes, colleagues or superiors may schedule meetings at times that may not be ideal for you. While it's reasonable to express your preferences, forming strong opinions about these scheduling decisions can create stress and tension without changing the outcome.
·Dress Code: In workplaces with varying dress codes, it's common to encounter colleagues with different clothing styles. Having strong opinions about how others choose to dress may be unnecessary and could lead to conflict, particularly when it doesn't impact job performance.
Workspace Organization: People have different approaches to organizing their desks and workspaces. While a tidy workspace is essential for some, others may prefer a more cluttered setup. Forming opinions about your colleagues' organizational preferences may only add unnecessary stress.
Email Etiquette: Colleagues may have different email communication styles, such as sending concise messages or using emojis. Having strong opinions about these choices can be counterproductive, as long as the communication remains effective and professional.
Break Time Activities: During breaks, coworkers may engage in various activities, such as playing games or discussing hobbies. It's not necessary to form judgments about their choices during their downtime, as long as it doesn't interfere with work responsibilities.
Team Building Activities: Some employees may enjoy team-building activities, while others may find them less appealing. Having strong opinions about participating in such activities can create unnecessary tension within the team.
In each of the examples above, the common theme is that forming strong opinions about matters that do not significantly impact work or professional relationships can lead to unnecessary stress and conflicts. It's often more beneficial to focus on one's own responsibilities and priorities while respecting the choices and preferences of colleagues.
Epictetus observed, "It's not things that upset us; it's our opinions about things." This insight holds particular relevance in our professional and personal lives. The more opinions we hold, especially about matters beyond our control, the more susceptible we become to unnecessary emotional turbulence. Letting go of these excess opinions can help us maintain composure, adaptability, and a clear focus on what truly matters.
By consciously choosing to have fewer opinions, particularly about external matters and other people's choices, we can liberate ourselves from needless burdens and experience greater happiness and contentment thereby benefitting from
Improved Focus: Shedding superfluous opinions enables us to channel our energy and attention where it truly counts, enhancing our ability to prioritize and handle tasks efficiently.
Reduced Stress: Opinions often lead to judgment, comparison, and, inevitably, stress. By refraining from forming opinions about trivial matters, we reduce stress and anxiety in our daily lives, promoting mental well-being.
Enhanced Personal and Professional Growth: A neutral and non-judgmental attitude can enhance our personal and professional growth. Others appreciate our impartiality, making us more trusted and approachable individuals.
Contribution to a Positive Environment: Adopting a mindset of non-judgment and open-mindedness fosters a more positive and harmonious environment in both professional and personal settings. When we choose not to judge, we contribute to a culture of acceptance and respect.
Remember, you have the power to have no opinion. So, why not exercise that power and experience the freedom it brings? Let go of opinions that don't serve you well, and you'll find yourself not only happier but also a more fulfilled and enlightened individual.
About the Author:
Richard Arnott, BA, FInatAM, FIToL, is the Director of BMTG (UK) Ltd, and the author and lead presenter of the groundbreaking, globally recognised Advanced Certificate for the Executive Assistant: ACEA® program.
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