The Source Of All Stress In Life: Giving A Giant Crap

Are you finding yourself stressed out more often? Are you feeling burned oput after the pandemic? If so, maybe the source of all stress in life is giving a giant crap.

The less you can give a crap about things, the less stressed you will be and vice versa!

Let's talk about how we can better minimize guilt and reduce stress so we can live happier and longer.

Giving A Crap Causes Resulted In A Ticket

The reason why I got my first speeding ticket going 35 mph in a 25 mph zone was not due to racial profiling, car profiling, or any other type of profiling one likes to conjure up when one gets caught.

I got snagged because I was in a hurry to be on time for my doubles tennis match at 6:30 pm. I absolutely hate making others wait for me.

If I didn't care about being 10 minutes late, I wouldn't have gone 10 miles over the speed limit. I would have taken my sweet sugar time. Maybe I would have pulled over to take some pictures of people's flower gardens as every other car whizzed by me going much faster than 35 mph.

I'm not bitter, no sir, no ma'am. Of course I was speeding even though it's impossible to move faster than a tortoise during rush-hour traffic in San Francisco.

I've accepted the fact that because I gave a crap about people's time, I broke the law. As a result, I had to pay the $300 fine. Fair is fair.

Giving A Crap Is A Reason For All Your Stress And Misery

Giving A Crap: The Source Of All Stress by grigoria vryttia
Source: Grigoria Vryttia

The people who constantly give a crap also feel the most guilt. They are likely some of the most stressed out people you'll ever meet. They often feel guilty about not doing more to help other people or not doing more to succeed. The reality is, some people just can’t be helped.

They might be wonderful human beings, but gosh darnit, they'll make you stressed out just being with them!

A certain amount of stress is good because it helps motivate you to do good work.

If you absolutely didn't give a crap, you probably wouldn't bother studying in school, coming into work on time, and worrying how some totally idiotic co-worker gets paid more than you!

But the problem is, most of do care about doing good work because we have pride. Let's highlight some common examples in life where giving a crap makes your life worse.

Caring Too Much Is Why You're Stressed Out At Work

Most people want money, prestige, fancy titles, status, and recognition for their work. As a result, people regularly bust their asses coming in early, leaving late, and sucking up to their bosses.

Working long hours hurts your social life. Sucking up to your boss who ends up not promoting you will crush your ego. But, let's say you didn't give a crap at work. Here's what a scenario might look like.

Boss: Hi Johnny, can you finish your competitive analysis presentation and send me a draft by the end of the week?

You: Hi Jill, nah, I can't. I've got to go to Vegas with the boys for a bachelor party, baby! I'm calling in sick on a Friday so I can get an extra day of fun. Gotta go early to prep, you know what I'm saying?

Boss: OK Johnny, stay safe you ungrateful tool!

Jill is baffled by Johnny's defiance. He is a quiet quitter who does enough not to get fired, but not more to get ahead.

Johnny is definitely not getting a promotion or a raise come year end. But Johnny doesn't give a crap! He's going to have the time of his life that weekend. Besides, he's got help from his parents. Work to live right?

Why Your Friends Are Stressing You Out

Do you know we change friends on average every seven years? It's because maintaining good friendships takes effort. Instead of feeling melancholy for losing a good friend, maybe stop caring so much as another one may be just around the corner.

Lucy: Hi Patricia, can you do me a big favor and watch my French Bulldog and five year old son this weekend? Jimmy and I haven't gone on a vacation in years! If we don't go, I fear our marriage is going to fall apart. We're too stressed out!

Patricia: I'd love to Lucy! But, I've got yoga classes in the morning and massages in the afternoon. I'm sure you understand.

Lucy is obviously disappointed by Patricia's lack of wanting to be the pooper scooper for two living beings. Patricia clearly doesn't give a crap about Lucy and Jimmy's marriage or friendship.

Patricia is still trying to find a man of her own, so why the hell would she want to give up a valuable man-hunting weekend to take care of Lucy's joy? Hell no! Everything is rational.

Why Your Family Is Causing You Stress

The larger the family, the more the chaos. Let's talk about one important duty every child should face: taking care of their parents when they can no longer take care of themselves.

Dad: Dear daughter, I love you very much. When I can no longer walk on my own, can you live closer to me and help me out? I'd love to see you more as well.

Janet: Hi Dad, I love you too! But I just hate living in Florida. It's too hot and muggy for seven months of the year. I've got a career to develop you know? Besides, I've got all I can handle with my own family right now. Can you ask Peter (brother) to relocate to be closer to you? You guys always got a long better anyway.

Despite the father raising Janet for 18 years and paying for her private undergrad and graduate school tuition, Janet doesn't feel the need to pay her dad back.

She's got enough problems of her own, and her father is not a priority concern. By not believing she should help out her parents, Janet lives a less stressful life.

I've personally felt more stressed lately because I'm in charge of investing our family's money. The bear market in 2022 made investing no fun. If only I didn't care about returns and the well-being of my loved ones! I wouldn't be as stressed.

Why The Poor Stress You Out

Even in a nation as rich as ours, there are hundreds of thousands of homeless people who do not have enough to eat. How can we ignore the suffering of others?

Homeless person on the sidewalk: Hi Mr! Can you spare some change?

Busy professional walking to Chipotle for lunch: No acknowledgement. Eye contact avoided. Headset rocking to the latest tune. 

We ignore the suffering all around us in order to make ourselves feel better. After all, Americans can save more money if we want to right? Choices have consequences, we rationalize to ourselves.

Now imagine if you were a billionaire. Even though you have more money than you can ever spend, you still aren't willing to help alleviate homelessness in your neighborhood. To rationalize your lack of help, you rationalize its the government responsibility to help the poor.

One of the reasons why I wrote Buy This, Not That is to help narrow the wealth gap. We all should be able to benefit from a prosperous economy, not just the very rich.

Relieving Stress By Not Giving A Crap About Your Employees Or Customers

The majority will always win in a legislation fight. So long as you are benefitting, you don't give a crap about how other people are being affected.

Working class citizen: It would be nice to get at least a 5% raise after years of wage freezes.

CEO of PG&E utility company: No raise for you electrical worker. Do your job and like it.

Despite a San Bruno gas blast killing eight innocent people in 2010, the CEO still earned $7.34 million that year. If the CEO gave a crap, he'd take no bonuses beyond his base salary. Even better, he'd use his $7.34 million and give it all to the victims of the blast.

The CEO actually resigned and got a $35 million retirement package at the age of 58. Do you think he's using any of those millions to compensate the families of the victims? Doubtful. By not giving a crap, the CEO can live out his retirement guilt-free.

In 2023, senior executives at Silicon Valley Bank sold tens of millions of stock before the bank collapsed. Sure, the selling was mostly based off a predetermined selling schedule. However, you don't see one senior executive willingly give their stock proceeds back despite mismanaging the bank and causing many employees to lose their jobs.

The secret to not giving a crap about your employees or customers is to convince yourself you are deserving due to your efforts. The outcome of your efforts is of no concern to you.

Giving A Crap About Your Business

The online media business is interesting because you invite an unlimited amount of people to comment and criticize your work. Yet most don't offer a better solution or don't bother to try themselves. It's tiring sometimes. But don't worry, I will never surrender!

Commenter: Your writing sucks. Your views about XYZ are ridiculous. You scammer!

Online media business owner: If you don't like it, you can go somewhere else. In fact, I'll even refund you the amount you spent reading my article (which is $0).

By not caring about critical customers who offer no value, an online media business owner can continue unimpeded. If a writer cares too much about other people's criticism, they might alter their writing to try and appease everyone. As a result, the writing turns into vanilla and then nobody cares.

Space Things Out To Manage The Workload

As the creator of content on Financial Samurai, I feel it is my duty to respond to any comment and email that requires responding to. Sometimes I miss some, but for the most part I am a consistent responder.

The need to respond is part of the reason why I space posts out every two or three days.

However, I've been told some of my responses are weak, curt, and defensive. When you have to respond to sometimes 100+ comments and e-mails a day, it's very difficult to respond in length sometimes. And most of the time, I don't get a response back after spending the time.

This damned if you do, damned if you don't type of feedback is one of the reasons why so many media sites have shut down their comments system. Removing comments not only prevents spammers from flooding a site, it also removes criticism and saves time!

Not Caring About What You Create Can Set You Free

Sometimes, I wonder if it's best not to give a crap about the quality of content on Financial Samurai. I can hire freelance writers to write affiliate posts for the sole purpose of making money. This way I wouldn't have to go back to work to try and take care of my family.

Below is a great snapshot of a site that does just that. With no comments section, there won't be criticism about these posts. Further, Google doesn't care if the writer has experience or expertise on the subject matter. Therefore, why not write generic posts to make more money and feel less stressed?

The problem is that I care too much to publish these type of posts, even if they will make me more money. I believe in writing from firsthand experience and telling real stories that weaves in personal finance lessons. What a crutch!

Soul-sucking affiliate posts by the savvy couple website

Giving A Crap About Your Physique

It's so difficult to stay in fighting shape the older you get. I used to work out five days a week vs. only two days a week on average now.

Who am I to blame for being 15 pounds heavier than ideal weight? You of course! If I didn't give a crap about my writing cadence, I would write less and exercise more.

Guy eating an entire large deep dish pizza: Despite being 50 lbs overweight, he doesn't give a crap because he has enough confidence and self-esteem to not care what other people think. He's got a great personality and the ladies find him funny. Besides, the pizza tastes amazing.

Gal eating a salad and working out for the fifth day in a row at the gym: Despite already being in amazing shape, she still feels overweight. She's always checking herself out in the mirror, along with the beefcake next to her who turns sideways and flexes his guns.

Could it be that the fittest people actually have lower self-esteem? Yes, being fit feels amazing. However, these fit people could also use some of that time working out to produce something of value to society.

The less you care about your physique, the less you will work out or care about what you eat. As a result, you'll free up valuable time to do other things. Being comfortable just the way you are is attractive!

Caring Too Much About Achieving Success

If you care too much about achieving success, you will put yourself under an enormous amount of pressure. Given it's so hard to reach the pinnacle of your profession or endeavor, you will likely end up disappointed.

For example, let's say you set a goal to write a Wall Street Journal bestseller. Despite less than 0.5% of books ever making a national bestseller list, you're determined to succeed!

As a result, you spend one year longer than you should writing your book due to all the revisions. Then you spend an enormous amount of effort and money marketing your book. Some authors easily spend $50,000 1 $100,000 in marketing, severely depleting their book advance.

After all the stress and anxiety about making the top 1%, chances are high you will not make the list. Then you might fall into a pit of despair. Even if you do make the WSJ bestseller list, you'll only be thrilled for a little bit. Then an emptiness inside will form, making you wonder things like: Is that it? or What's next?

Instead of caring too much about success, it may be better for your mental health to shoot for average. Because no matter how high you aim, there is always an even higher level! Being able to finish a hard task is success enough since most people don’t try.

Caring Too Much About Where Your Kids Go To College

I wrote articles about how to pay for college and how to game the financial aid system because I was worried about how to afford college for two children fifteen years from now. We unlikely won't get merit scholarships because of who we are.

But several comments from parents of college graduates made me realize I may need to adjust my expectations lower. Many commenters shared stories about their kids attending affordable colleges I had never heard of before. But their kids are happy and thriving, which is all that matters in the end.

Here's a comment from Champ,

Both of us went to community college and earned six figures before we both retired in our 60’s. All our children went to community college and transferred to state universities. The total college costs for 5 children was $180,000, which included no grants, no scholarships nothing. They paid their own way. They all earn over 6 figures and one son and his wife earn 7 figures.

Seven out of seven earning six figures or seven figures is not a fluke! Now I'm really enthusiastic about sending my kids to CC. As a result, I'm no longer stressed about affording college.

Instead of saving $1,500,000 for my kids' college tuition in 15 years, I'm now going to spend it. In the year 2036, community college could very well be free.

Caring About Your Legacy

Finally, one of the reasons why we save, invest, and work so hard is because we want to leave a good legacy. We might have children we want to provide for. Or, we might want to continue supporting charities long after we are gone.

Instead, if you adopt the YOLO retirement philosophy of spending all your money while living, you may feel less stressed. You won't have to work as much and you won't have to plan as much for the future.

As a father and a writer, I care about my legacy. Caring about my legacy is why I continue to write at least three times a week on Financial Samurai. I'm well past my 10-year anniversary where I said I would take things down.

I also record weekly podcasts to ensure my kids have an archive of episodes to get to know us better just in case we pass prematurely.

But if I didn't care about legacy so much, I'd take things down. I certainly wouldn't spend any time writing and recording on vacation, as I am doing right now.

The more you can accept the finality of life, the more you can let go. Nobody really cares what you do once you are no longer around.

Caring Too Much About The Type Of Home You Live In

If you care about what people think about your home and the type of home you live in, you might end up upgrading homes. And if you aren't careful with your upgrade, you might end up taking on far too much financial responsibility that leads to stress.

A nicer home results in more maintenance expenses. You'll also have to pay more property taxes. Sure, you'll feel better when your friends or friend's parents come over for a playdate, but you will also have a greater burden.

Because I sold stocks to buy a new forever home in 4Q2023, I ended up blowing up my passive income by $150,000! We could have been set for life, but because I couldn't beat back real estate FOMO, I now have more stress.

I'm now required to work or consult part-time for the next 3-5 years to build back my liquidity. That's a letdown after having so much financial freedom since 2012. However, a father, my Provider's Clock is ticking loudly before my children become adults.

Think More About Yourself To Feel Less Stressed

Instead of always thinking about others, you might want to think more about yourself if you want to feel less stressed.

Go ahead and consume instead of produce. Be late instead of on time. Always ask for a favor before providing any help beforehand. Fulfill your needs before fulfilling the needs of others.

The more selfish and greedy you are, the happier you might be!

Sure, there is a downside to being selfish. Like fewer friends and loneliness. But always trying to help others can be exhausting. And given you can't help everyone, should you even try? Maybe not!

Invest In AI And Private Growth Companies

Today, one of the things I stress about is whether artificial intelligence will take away my kids' future jobs. The world is already ultra competitive thanks to globalization and technological advancements. Now AI has the potential to wipe away millions of jobs in 20 years.

Because I care for my kids, I've come up with a solution. I am actively investing in private and public AI-related companies as a hedge. If AI does revolutionize the world over the next 20 years, then my AI investments have a high likelihood of making a positive return. If not, then my kids will at least have decent jobs after so many years of education.

I recommend checking out the Innovation Fund, an open-ended venture capital fund that invests in AI companies and only has a $10 minimum. Specifically, the fund invests in the following five sectors:

  • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
  • Modern Data Infrastructure
  • Development Operations (DevOps)
  • Financial Technology (FinTech)
  • Real Estate & Property Technology (PropTech)

Roughly 35% of the Innovation Fund is invested in artificial intelligence, which I'm bullish about. After my kids are out of the house, I don't want them asking me why I didn't work in AI or invest in AI near the beginning!

Most venture capital funds have a $100,000+ minimum if you can get to invest in the first place. The Innovation Fund only has a $10 minimum and you get to see what the fund is invest in first before deciding on how much to invest. Fundrise is a sponsor of Financial Samurai and Financial Samurai is an investor in Fundrise.

Reader Questions And Suggestions

Do you believe the source of all stress is caring too much? Can you provide some examples that would cause you less stress if you cared less? How much does pride get in the way of happiness?

For more nuanced personal finance content, join 60,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009. 

99 thoughts on “The Source Of All Stress In Life: Giving A Giant Crap”

  1. A speeding ticket in SF? Are you having a laugh? I don’t know anyone who’s gotten a speeding ticket the City. I don’t even know anyone who has even been pull over recently for anything.

  2. Michael Whitener

    Sam, responding to your comment: “And most of the time, I don’t get a response back after spending the time.”

    Your website doesn’t provide any means of knowing when there’s been a response to a reader comment. So you’re supposing that a reader who leaves a comment is going to circle back to that blog post periodically to check for responses. That’s not realistic.

    Why not provide a mechanism (e.g., an email alert) by which readers will know if their comments are responded to? Many publications do this. Great for reader engagement as well.

    In a nutshell: readers don’t give enough of a crap to monitor responses to their comments, so it’s on you to give a crap about notifying them.

    1. True. There used to be a box you could check that notifies commenters of responses, but it disappeared as the plug-in got outdated.

      It is totally my fault, which is actually freeing! Thank you for making me see the light and not feel bad for responding to as many comments anymore!


  3. Philippians 4:6-7
    New International Version
    6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    Just sayin’

    Helps me cope with the stresses of life

  4. Ecclesiastes 9:10,

    Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.

  5. This article really resonated with me as things have been getting stressful with work. I’d wake up in the middle of the night thinking and overthinking about work and projects and staff. Only when I say F’it to it all is when my mind can finally calm down. It relates to all things in our lives just as Sam mentioned from work, to family, to friends. But as all things in life, we do need balance. I don’t give af about work but I care deeply about my wife and kids. Friends and extended family I need to learn not to care as much too since obligations to them can be another cause of stress and worrying what they think of me!

  6. This article is for 99% of the population!

    You can actually write another article with the title “The Source Of All Stress In Life: Taking It All” and it will work for the remaining 1%.

    Hence, without stress we would not have evolved from the soup full of amoeba to the population of 8 billion and counting. Stress is part of our DNA individually and collectively.

    On the extreme ends of the spectrum: on one end, few will stress themselves out by just sit around and do ABSOLUTELY nothing and/or accomplished nothing and on the other extreme end, some will stress themselves to DEATH (Karōshi – Japanese work to death phenomenon) . Most of us are in between.

    Here is the magic stress formula everyone in between: “SELF INDUCED STRESS” will have greater efficacy in a long run.

    Take time and sort out “All Stress In Life…” for you and embrace those that make your life progresses forward (physically and mentally). Beware that some of the stresses that you eliminated others will THRIVE in them.

      1. Not really….some very interesting studies on this topic that argue against it, but it is also a very open ended topic….complex.

  7. Memento mori

    Yeah, this reminds me of that Wall Street movie, greed is good.
    Being selfish and not giving a crap are virtues we must all strive for.
    Yet, when one archeologist was asked to date the beginning of civilization, he linked it with the discovery of a human skeleton that had a broken bone leg that had healed.
    It meant that people had cared for him when he broke his leg instead of abandoning him to a sure agonizing death in the wild.
    Care not selfishness is the defining value of our society.
    But this is a sign of the times that we have reached peak civilization and are now in decline to darker times.

  8. For a funny take on working/not caring, watch the movie, “Office Space” gif you haven’t already. It will crack you up!

  9. Reel Properties

    When I was a couple years out of college, I was driving home from work and my heart start racing, body began to tingle, and I got tunnel vision. Long story short, I went to the Urgent Care and the doctor said I had a panic attack. He said something to me that I’ll never forget – “It’s OK to have a panic attack, it means you care about something.” While it was a difficult time for me, I’m thankful to be busy, active, have things going on in my life, and things that I care about.

  10. I can relate to this so much. Giving a crap can really lead to so much stress, guilt, and misery. I give a crap about my mother who is old, single, mentally+physically+financially in bad shape. And it’s making my life total hell.

    I want to help her and am doing a lot but she doesn’t make it easy for so many reasons. It would be so much easier to just say f-it and stop all contact with her and let her just fend for herself. But not easy to do that either mostly because of guilt and regretting not helping after the fact if/when bad things happen.

    1. I’m sorry to hear about this situation. I think you’re doing the right thing because you will likely regret not being there for her every step of the way once she’s gone.

      Our parents can be difficult, but they raised us for 18 years and may have paid for our college education and other things as well. As a result, I feel we owe it to them to take care of them for at least 18 years on the back end! I’m prepared and have accumulated the assets accordingly.

      1. It’s called filial responsibility. The rationale is just as Sam said, We raised them and now the owe us. We did it for our parents. Of course aging parents can be difficult (and expensive). So are children – for sure. It is simply a part of the circle of life IMHO. Is it easy? Hell no. We raised them, provided for all their needs, put them through college, lived a frugal life and saved for our elder years, have long-term care insurance, etc etc. And now……their turn if needed. (Sounds like following Sam’s advise in Buy This, Not That). Bless you Sam for your excellent web page, excellent book, and for caring for your elder parents. Your love for your family is obvious in all you write. You do give a crap. You are a great example!

  11. I think it’s possible to have it both ways. I’m fundamentally lazy and I spent time in my career learning how to take steps out of many processes that made them faster and simpler. It wasn’t to try to impress anyone, just to make my own work flow easier. I didn’t care all that much what others thought, but becoming personally more efficient made me look good and made my work easier. There were places where precision and accuracy were important and others where it didn’t matter much. I learned not to sweat the small stuff, and it made my life easier. When you stop worrying about things that don’t matter too much, you have more time and energy to focus on things that do. And, it’s not necessary to worry or care too much. Making your work product more efficient and accurate can be like a game. You do it for self-satisfaction, not to please others.

  12. In a similar vein, I’ve found the secret to be lowering one’s expectations….especially of those people and circumstances you cannot control.

    This one change in my perspective has dramatically reduced the stress level in both my life and marriage!

  13. I learned the hard way that giving a crap at work and being disappointed simply caused me to ruin my relationships outside of work. I would bring home my problems and take them on out on those I loved. Of course, keeping them bottled up inside would eventually have had the same affect. When I finally learned to just give enough of a crap to get by life became much better.

  14. “Momento Mori”. (you can leave this life at anytime). In otherwords, stay present do things that are important to you, but do something ! No one will remember (or think about) your accomplishments. Not even you kids.

  15. Giving a crap about what and who is important to you is what matters. Everything else is life sucking garbage.

    For example, I love my sister. But not her opinions. She makes bad decisions for herself and tries to give me advice that is totally unfounded and worthless. When I told her about a potential investment property that I wanted to buy (which I had never done before,) she told me how I shouldn’t buy it because it may need new appliances and there’s a formula that her husband uses to decide if a property is worth buying and this one doesn’t fit the calculation.

    To me, the location was perfect (next to a big university), it already had a renter (who wanted to sign on for several more years), AND the price fit my budget. So, I bought it, despite her thoughts/opinions/calculation.

    I’ve owned that property for almost 2 years. The renter pays on time, every time. He takes care of the place and doesn’t smoke/drink/have pets or party. The best part is that it’s value has increased by 62%.

    The only thing I can do when people tell me NOT to do something that I feel is for my benefit (in a good way without harming animals and others) is to do it and succeed. That shuts them up.

    1. You have finished a huge project: your book. Often the aftermath of achievement is reflection. And sometimes that reflection is hard.

      So, I like this post, because in wake of your achievement you are asking an important question: should you care that much?

      Yes most stress comes from caring. But for whatever it is worth people who don’t care are often banal and self absorbed. So caring is generally good.

      Moreover, by giving guidance, you have helped many others.

      For me, the dividing line has to do the impact.

      If I don’t care will my attitude negatively impact someone else? Or, if I care too much, will I hurt myself?

      Keep writing Sam! You are doing a lot of good!

  16. I have recently gone through a sort of epiphany and transformation in the last few years. I realized that the reason I cared so much, gave it my all, was more than just pride in what I do but more of a need for acceptance. I realized that this acceptance and approval from my peers and superiors directly impacted my self esteem. Since coming to this realization, I’ve worked at separating my emotions from others’ approval. I can accept compliments without it going to my head and I can accept criticism without it destroying my self esteem.
    Going through this change has bettered my life and lowered my stress significantly!

    Thanks Sam for the topic, good piece.

    1. Hi Ryan,

      I understand your epiphany. Wanting to feel accepted and have the approval of others has also driven me. But I realized recently that some people will never be happy with how far you’ve come, and you’ve got to just move on without them.


  17. I am so glad that I ran across this article today. I needed a reality/gut-check this morning–especially after talking to my team lead about the abysmal merit increase that I received.

    As you stated, its so funny how we do all that we can to please people and still its never enough. I am definitely working on doing things that make me happier this year. Thanks again for this post Sam…really!

  18. Well there’s a difference between giving a shit and ACTUALLY giving a shit. Everyone “gives a shit” on a superficial, surface level. Very few people will actually care about you in your lifetime. And I think it’s a natural tendency that we can’t control to pretend like we care, since we’re always protecting our own interests whether we realize it or not. So yes, maybe it is a source of anxiety, but it’s an unavoidable one. So this post kind of makes no sense.

    I’ve been fortunate to have a boss that I have a great relationship with. Granted, he’s my first real boss, albeit at a non-legitimate career. I’m still going to have unrealistic expectations going forward, where I know I’ll never have it so good. It’s a really tough situation. But I think the boss is so good mainly because the rest of the job is pretty shit. So maybe he is still only giving a shit on surface level.

  19. It’s important to remember that social contracts go both ways. So often, responsible working people can feel abused while others are self-serving.
    It’s good to ask questions to make sure that we are also benefiting from our social contracts.

    For example:
    Why should we be loyal to mega-corp when CEO makes $20 million bonus for doing a mediocre job?
    Why should we sacrifice our careers to take care of an aging parent when they put us in daycare prioritizing their career?
    Why should I give my money to a homeless man who does not want help for his addiction and does not want to work?
    Why should I give to non-profits that spend 80 cents on the dollar toward “administrative” costs?

    It’s good to care about important things and our own levels of responsibility, but we need to make sure the motivation is not guilt. Doing things out of guilt does no good except to the person that uses guilt to manipulate us.

    1. What about the PG&E CEO who earned $7.2 million in my example and walked away with a $30 million retirement package while his firm accidentally blew up 10 people in San Bruno? He doesn’t give a crap. He got paid.

      1. I’ll bet the CEO’s compensation package was written into his contract, so of course he’ll get paid, similar to Wall Street execs who were heading the firms which needed tax payer bailout and still walked away with hefty packages. People who rise to that level of power and influence in society are very good at using people to their advantage and also not giving a crap about most things. It’s also known as focus. But then again besides close friends and family, how many people really give a crap about others people?

        Not giving a crap, also known as individualism and self reliance is what America excels at compared to the rest of the world. It’s probably why America is the most powerful and richest nation on earth and at the same time oppose universal health care for its fellow citizens. I believe there’s a cost to this sort of attitude though. We’re one of the least happy society in the developed world.

        1. The one thing I’m proud of is that my company never took a single tax payer dime. Furthermore, the company paid employees in “toxic assets” in 2009-2010, when no other bank had the guts to do so.

          How about you? What were you and your company doing in 2008-2010?

          1. My company was laying off people during those times and I was preparing for the worst case scenario. Fortunately I kept my job and stay invested in the market and bought a house. The plan is to work for 10 to 15 more years maybe and then engineer my layoff as you have.

        2. Boo hoo, “least happy society”. I will sit here and wipe away my tears with dollar bills and have another bowl of ice cream!

  20. As someone who cares too much, I have a hard time not being resentful at people who don’t care. They make terrible co-workers and even more terrible friends or partners. While it’s great to be able to be able to relax and go with the flow, but you have to be willing to invest in the things that matter to you.

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  23. Great article Sam! This “not giving a crap” concept, for me, is another way of “letting go.” That’s my focus for 2015: letting go of expectations, need for certain outcomes, and the need to be perceived a certain way by others. So far it’s working magic. Seems to be acting like a filter, keeping the positive stuff and removing the waste.

  24. I’m often accused of caring too much. Yes, caring makes me stressed out. I, like you, hate being late. I stress out every day about being late for work, and am usually among the first ones there, 15-20 minutes early. Everyday. But I still stress out everyday about the possibility I’ll be late. I care about what people think of me, especially when it comes to performance. I don’t like disappointing anybody. Yes, if I didn’t give a crap about most things, life would be easier. But tell me, how do I do that? You haven’t offered a solution, how do we make a 180 and go to totally not giving a crap? I’ve tried to tell myself and others before that I don’t care about something, but deep down, if I was to be honest, nothing had changed.

    1. It’s instinct to care, to belong. There is no resolution. It’s part of being human. I think if anything, this article just states the obvious. We have to make sacrifices in life. Of course we don’t really care about certain things, but we often have to pretend, and that’s just “duh”.

    2. Justin Williams

      You sound like me. Try life on an island. It is easier for me to relax when everyone around me is not speeding around at 100 miles an hour.

      1. Sorry Sam, but for those of us who worry about being late all the time, having financial independence is not the answer. I imagine once I am financially independent I will still care about whether or not I am late. I think it ingrained in one’s personality.

      2. Felix Money

        I’m trying really hard to do all those things, and I’m hoping I will be able to completely quit my job and do what I love within a year or two. But I will still care :)) I just don’t think it’s my personality to not give a crap. Not just at work, I mean. In anything I do. Maybe I’m just not tough enough to do that. I don’t know. Over time, I’ve learned to grow a little bit of a tough skin, but I still have long ways to go to not giving a crap.
        And life on the island sounds more relaxed :) I’d love to visit one day.

    3. My first day on any job were the only days i came early. The rest i came as much as an hour late depending of my wake up time and how good my breakfast was (of course, i made up for it most of the time). But I really didnt care because i was amazed at how lucky those people were of having me working with them.

    4. I arrived early once: the first day of my first job almost 20 years ago. Cant recall arriving early any other time.

      The people you care what they think: do they pay you or make your life any better in any capacity? or, if you dissapointed them, would they make your life worse?
      No to everything?, that´s what i thought

  25. Sam, I think it’s amazing that you take so much time to respond to comments. It’s probably why you have such a following. (Oh, and the posts of course!)

    1. No big deal Mina. It’s fun! Like throwing a party and talking to folks one by one. It’s the right thing to do. Just gotta get up early, in order to respond to comments before getting to work writing a post, before going to work.

      If it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t do it!

  26. Give a huge crap about things which are important to you whatever it maybe and prepare constantly to do well on them. Giving too much crap about everything or being indifferent about almost everything is just shooting oneself in the foot. No one will get very far in life with that sort of attitude unless they were already born into wealth and privilege.

    Not sure what events transpired with your speeding ticket, but unless there was an unusual heavy traffic that day, preparing means leaving 15 minutes early. Preparing means building a financial cushion as you have done in order not to have to do something simply to earn money. Life can be stressful enough without adding self induced stress brought on by procrastination and then having to pull all-nighters to finish something or speeding to get somewhere.

  27. “Readers, is giving a crap the source for all stress? If you care about no one, won’t you be happier?”

    I got a chuckle the other day from this – I think Conrad Hilton may be your poster child for caring about no one (at least the “peasants”):

    But I imagine, late at night, when the demons come, he’s not very happy…

  28. I can relate very much to the end of the article where you talk about not concerning yourself with petty office politics and blame games. I do believe that the ability to feel this way comes down to leverage. You have a career that allows you to not be as concerned because you know you offer something valuable to the organization but at the same time are not going to be stressed if they choose to “get rid of you.” However, so many rely on their jobs so they constantly panic about anything they think won’t give them a leg up. Much of this is derived from the pressure stemming from the top down, but mostly because people live in fear of losing their paycheck. The employees have 0 leverage as they can more often than not be replaced by the next in line. So the real question becomes how do you find the balance between giving and not giving a crap?

  29. I get annoy with people who are lazy, but somehow get a huge raise and bonuses. For example, nobody likes administrative work, but we get paid because of administrative work. So after a hard working day, supposively two of us would spend 1-1.5 hours to knock out some mindless work. But there are a couple of people, when they work with me, thinking Viviannw could handle it.p, so they go off doing something else like helping the bosses doing some work they don’t like to earn extra credit per se. Now, they supposed to “meet expectation before exceeding expectation” at lease that’s how we got evaluated.

    So one day, in safety meeting, I mention that it’s a two person job, and any supper ios pulling people away need to make sure people doing their job first. It worked!

    Anyhow, as for getting poor rating, I can’t help how people think, evaluation is purely subjective. After many years of fighting and documenting my accomplishment during the year, I just concluded, it’s either quitting and go somewhere change boss, or get myself a business where I can give myself an A+++ performance and a $10k raise each year.

    On top of that, I learn to work with what I have, I get overpaid for my profession anyways. Don’t dwell on bad thoughts or things I can’t change.

  30. I’ve said it before at the 9-5, the problem is Caring(Giving a crap), once you stop caring your 9-5 gets a little easier, the raise and bonus in corporate America, you lose some interest because you know you didn’t go 110% to make every single thing happen because you lost some of that caring. You smile a little more and care a little less. Corporate America fascinates me and probably not in a good way, which is why I want to be as far away as possible.

  31. The paradox is that by one’s so called “not giving a crap,” there is ARGUABLY more peace, emotional stability and emotional strength. And this ARGUABLY can translate to there being more ability for that person to truly give in a meaningful way.

    Not giving a crap doesn’t necessarily need to translate to being a narcissist. It can be associated with a healthy DETACHMENT.

    This is a good post. Not that you give a crap what I think about your post, nor should you.

  32. I am a little confused with your post this time. I am having a hard time figuring out if you’re being a proponent or opponent of “Giving the crap sometimes ….”

  33. This post resonates well with me, and brought me some good laughs too. At the times when I had the most stress in my life, I think I cared way too much. I put too much responsibility on myself alone, which became unbearable. The more I started to ask for help and work as a team, or simply just let things go, the better things got. Stress has such an impact on our health and well being, and caring too much about too many things all by oneself isn’t healthy. We need balance and a support network.

    It helps to stop caring so much about things we can’t control. If we can’t do anything to change something/someone – then it’s much easier and less stressful not to give a crap about it. Like feeling guilty about things from the past for example – I have a relative who has so much guilt about stuff from her past and I’m like “let go of it already and start living in the NOW. Care about what you can do today, not what you or someone else shoulda/coulda/woulda done in the past.” We can’t please everyone. We gotta focus on what matters most to us and those we care about.

    1. Its also not really useful to be stress/anxious if its indeed warranted. I always felt like freaking out was an impediment to the solution to the source problem. Issue I always ran up against was not “appearing appropriately concerned”. Ah, ok. You mean while I calmly and cooly knocked out the problem, and the “concerned” person fumbled, something was amiss? Do you want your pilot (not me) doing the checkoffs and figuring stuff out, or appearing like they care? Sometimes….

  34. Gen Y Finance Guy

    I can be the first to confirm that having a blog is a great supplement to a job you don’t love. I personally find myself in a situation where I have extreme high’s and low’s when it comes to the day job. I love the monthly income, but I can’t help but work towards the day that I can go off on my own.

    The blog has been able give me a sense of balance. Its only been a little over 4 months, but its been a lot of fun writing and connecting with others.

    Sometime in the next 10 years I will be engineering my own layoff. For now there is a lot (at least financially) for me to extract from my career.

    Everyone should have a side hustle.

  35. Haha love this (especially the picture!). I don’t think not caring is always the answer to our stress because sometimes, we’re actually just running away. But I do agree with not giving a crap when it comes to work. I hear so many people complain about how mistreated they are their job. If it’s so bad, why do you put in the effort to care so much? Just show up 9-to-5, take an hour lunch and a few breaks in between, and call it a day.

    1. If the job is so bad, one must leave! Vote with your feet I say.

      I do see the allure of just “shipping it in” at work, but I have to imagine it gets boring after a while. But, if you have a side hustle like a blog or whatever, the 9-to-5 really could be amazing. Are there really people who work single digit work hour weeks and complain though? :)

      I always admire the people who leave at 4pm for personal reasons and stuff. They are the ones who don’t give a crap, and I salute them!

    2. If you’re running away you’re just channeling the anxiety into a different form, not alleviating it. The point should be to realize and match the actual importance and long term effect of what you’re worried about with your response. Most people seem to have things totally backward. Its pretty human to totally overestimate low probability and importance stuff while absolutely overlooking what is a real danger and importance. Just have to train yourself to see it and your own bias’ that allow things to get distorted.

      You may sometimes have to feign concern for stupid stuff just for social proof, but you dont have to let it affect you to the core. For the vast vast majority of people, they worry about the wrong stuff, or at least weight their concerns disproportionately to rational value.

  36. The thing about giving a crap at work is that you can only give so much. Not all workplaces are going to be 100% fair and that’s just how it is sometimes. Some places will advance people based on performance and promote the people that prove themselves and do a good job. But many times that’s not the case. Sometimes whomever has the most seniority will get the promotion simply because of their longevity at the company. Or sometimes it will go to whomever has a PHD in their field instead of the person with a bachelors degree and better work performance. And sometimes the person that is good “buddies” with the boss gets the promotion because they just know how to schmooze better.

    So yes I think you should give a crap at work, taking time off for Vegas is not going to get you ahead, but being a dedicated worker who thinks that the company will always promote the correct person is a bit naive sometimes. If you care too much about your job then at some point your job is going to be likely to let you down when they do the wrong thing. Finding that balance of how much of a crap to give is what I think we all need to strive for.


    1. Fairness is something so subjective in the workplace. It’s curious how out of all my examples in this post, 90% of people focus on the workplace, and not the relationships.

      How’s your “work to not work” anthem coming along? When are you going to stop working?

      1. Maybe it’s because people view their family and friends as being more static. My family has been around my whole life. I’ve learned when to give a crap and when it’s less important to give a crap. Those relationships have been tested my whole life and I know where I stand with them. Same with most of my friends. A large group of my friends have been around for 20 years or so, tried and tested those relationships with varying levels of “giving a crap”. There are some newer friendships where this is tested but it’s much different than work relationships. Being friends is a 100% voluntary act on both sides, whereas work is a somewhat less voluntary act since most people work because they need money to provide for the other parts of their life. (unless we’re talking about people like yourself who are already financially independent and don’t need a job if they didn’t want to.)

        You could argue that people can voluntarily pick the job that they want, but it’s not always 100% going to work out that way. If “just because you wanted a specific job” meant that you could get it then we might have a lot more astronauts then we currently have and a lot less janitors. Most people don’t seek out jobs that would end up on that show “Dirty Jobs” for a reason, they just end up their through some strange path in life.

        People make trade offs when it comes to work, sometimes the pay is worth doing something you wouldn’t voluntarily choose to do. The same goes with giving a crap at work, it’s not always something you would care about but you know that you have to care to a degree so that you don’t end up unemployed and homeless while waiting for NASA to give you that job to send you to the moon.

        As for stopping the traditional sense of work for myself, I still have some time to go before I reach that. I was originally planning to realistically stop at 42, but then I brought that down to 40. But now I’m sort of wanting to shoot for the year 2020 just because it sounds like a nice even year, that would be the year I turn 38. Not sure if that’s possible, some could definitely depend on how the markets are. And there’s always the possibility of significant life changes that could change things. Though I think if I had lifestyle changes that pushed back that date then that would be a good thing, because that would mean I choose to do something worth delaying financial independence a little longer.

  37. Hmmm… I might have to be first to step up and say there’s very little I give a crap about. That doesn’t make me depressed or a narcissist though. I focus most of my actions toward kindness and doing well by others. But in a more Taoist way. (A philosophy which “advocates a life of complete simplicity and naturalness and of noninterference with the course of natural events.”)
    I firmly believe that when people have food, clothing, shelter, and health they’ll go out of their way to think up stupid crap to get depressed or worry about. That’s not my problem and there’s little I can do about it. When I step in and help them fix their stuff, they’ll usually quagmire it all up again for no good reason. I don’t let things get complicated in my personal life. There’s no need for it–it’s all just silliness.
    Everyone should read “The Tao of Pooh” at least once in their lives.

    1. KevinInColorado

      And The Te of Piglet while you’re at it. Both quick to read, long to consider. Both by Benjamin Hoff. :)

  38. Ryan Turner

    I often say people care too much. Some people just have this uncanny ability to get worked up over things that genuinely do not matter. Soemone shows up 15 minutes late for lunch and they whine about it for the next week.

    People should focus on caring only about the things that are important. Also try to remain rational about things that matter.

    1. Exactly. I’m thinking of stop being 5 minutes early to every meeting out of respect, and just show up 15 minutes late and think about my own time. They can wait!

      My fear is that once I develop a habit of arriving 15 minutes late, they’ll know, and then they’ll arrive 30 minutes late, and then I’ll arrive 45 minutes late. Hmmm… I wonder if this happens, or if there are societies that have a culture of perpetually being late but being cool with it.

        1. I see you are familiar with “Island Time” Austin. I am sure Sam would not enjoy that one bit :-) .

          1. Justin Williams

            Island time = increased happiness for me

            It is hard for me to be relaxed when 99% of everything and everyone around me is running around on a hamster wheel.

          2. Oh, I’m actually very familiar with Island Time living in Hawaii and in Malaysia, and Indian Standard Time as my Indian friends would tell me. They like to come 1-2 hours late to dinner. It’s just the culture.

            I was kidding about not knowing societies perpetually being late and being cool. Being late is my biggest pet peeve, so I know all about timeliness!

    2. Exactly. You shouldnt care about a ton of things that people sometimes do, and it does cause anxiety for so many people. Since this is opposite of myself, it sometimes can drive me crazy to listen to worked up folks, and I tell them straight up what I think.

      Actually happened today, told someone (complaining about being thrown under the bus, etc.. in email) and she was right, but all anxious. I told her I would not have even responded to such a stupid email and made the real players in the debacle sort it out their damn selves, dont step in and allow yourself to be a flak jacket. However, since I am on the top of the totem pole so to speak I can see where this is hard to stomach.

      I also used to be on time for all meetings, etc…but learned fairly quickly I would be the only person for a half hour, so I never show up on time anymore, calculated late entry. I dont give a crap either, and guess what…Im still usually one of the first! Opposite rule on bike rides, be on time or be prepared to chase.

      1. That’s it. The higher you go up the totem pole, the HARDER the fall. It gets VERY political up there. One of the reasons why I left Wall St. I wanted to be my own boss and make pure correlations with work effort and success.

  39. Gen Y Finance Guy

    I am not sure if its giving a crap that is the source of all stress. I think it becomes stressful when you overload your ability to give a crap. If you want to avoid the kind of stress you are talking about, you have to make trade-offs by choosing what to give a crap about.

    You can’t be everything to everyone.

    Just be selective on the things you give a crap about…and you will be pretty stress free.

    1. I agree. This is not a binary issue. You have to have healthy boundaries. This is something that has been hard for me. I assume it’s the same for a lot of people.

      As the oldest child of a divorced couple, I realized that I often played more of a parental role. I tried to be the mediator. I viewed my siblings almost as though they were my children. I tried to help everyone out of every situation.

      I have always been overly generous with people who ask for money. My wife thinks it’s weird. Last week a woman asked me for money downtown. I looked away and kept walking. I didn’t acknowledge her. I am still trying to find that balance. It hurts. It’s not just black and white.

      1. Feels bad to ignore the needy right Austin? I wonder how we can do our part to always help, but also not feel rotten when we don’t.


        Giving A Crap With The Poor

        Even in a nation as rich as ours, there are hundreds of thousands of homeless people who beg and sleep on the streets every day.

        Homeless person on the sidewalk: Hi Mr! Can you spare some change?

        Busy professional walking to Chipotle for lunch: No acknowledgement. Eye contact avoided. Headset rocking to the latest tune.

        How many of us have experienced this situation? How many of us don’t give a crap enough to spare a quarter to help someone in need gather $1 to buy a McDonald’s cheeseburger? We ignore the suffering all around us in order to make ourselves feel better.

        1. It’s hard. I live within a stones throw of section 8. Like literally I could open my bedroom window and throw a stone. Every day I drive by halfway houses on the way home. One day I saw a young couple with a baby in a stroller. It was cold. I doubled back and gave them a significant amount of money. The dad almost couldn’t believe what was going on. Almost immediately an opportunist nearby was hitting me up.

          I don’t get the drift of your comment but I do have a heart. It’s just hard to know where those boundaries are.

  40. Readers, is giving a crap the source for all stress? If you care about no one, won’t you be happier?

    In a word, no. Caring about nobody makes you unhappy. The best definition of “happiness” that I’ve found is this: happiness is the experience of spending time with people we enjoy. If you don’t give a crap about other people, it’s unlikely that they’ll give a crap about you.

    The trick is not to give a crap about things that don’t give a crap about you. Your boss doesn’t give a crap about your family or your retirement or your life outside of work. Therefore, one should do enough so your boss keeps paying you but no more.

    Contrariwise, your family and friends do give a crap about you, and if they’re good people, you should give a crap about them. Obviously, if they become crappy people most of the time rather than just some bad days, you cut them loose. But so long as they’re net positives, you take some crap with the knowledge that you’re going to give them some crap, too.

    1. This is why at least 50% of one’s happiness at work should be working with people they like and admire. It doesn’t matter if you are getting paid like a rockstar, you will want to quit if you just can’t stand the people you work with.

  41. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life

    Haha, this is like the “office space” post :) And yes, caring too much is probably the primary source of all my anxiety.

    1. Jay @ ThinkingWealthy

      But if you didn’t give a crap, where would you be? Would you be making as much $? Probably not!

      I’m totally guilty of being the businessman walking to Chipotle for lunch at every single encounter…

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