“Mind your business” was a common phrase that popped up many-a-times while having altercations while we were younger. (Do kids say it nowadays?) Those days, it felt like a verbal slap. Those annoying words plucked at our nerves with the dexterity of a virtuoso harpist. Little did we know “mind your business” is a brilliant advice.
Human nature is funny. We tend to stick our noses in other people’s affairs in order to distract ourselves from the mess of our own lives. In a way, it is a coping mechanism. We feel better when we know another person has it worse. “I was sad I had no shoes until I saw a person without legs.”
Giving it more thought, focusing on another person’s business is a form of self-comparison that makes us look down on other people who supposedly have it worse than we do. Often times, it comes from a malicious place. We feel a certain thrill picking apart another person’s life. The interesting thing is that most things we criticise them for do not harm us in any way.
Many things about other people’s lives should not be our concern; but here, I simply highlight eight things that should not concern us.
“It’s not like I’m fat-shaming anyone, but fat people are unhealthy.” says the person who chugs down alcohol in elephantine proportions at least once every week. Eating too much of red meat is unhealthy. Not exercising and keeping fit is risky. I do not see people calling these out with the same intensity they go about “advocating” for plus-sized people to lose weight. A person’s weight or size is not our business.
Sense of Style
When Marlene Dietrich wore trousers and tuxedoes in the 1930s, I am positive some people developed an aneurysm. How a person chooses to present does not concern us. What is ridiculous is how some of us dissect a stranger because of the way they are dressed. In the iconic words of the legendary Anaïs Nin, “We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are.” We easily project ourselves onto people. How we perceive a person’s style is a function of our preconceived notions.
Romantic Relationship Status
One of the many things that amuse me about us (humans) is that we are so invested in a person’s romantic affiliations: we want to know if they are single, married, or dating. How does a person’s relationship status affect us, especially when we are not romantically interested in them?
What people do (or do not do) with their sex organs should not bother us. It becomes our cup of tea when the parties involved in a sexual act are not consenting human adults. And if we are so curious about a person’s sexual orientation, nothing is holding us back from asking them.
Certain choices people make should not get a reaction from us, yet we go all out and criticise. E.g., type of diet, schools their kids attend, what they do or do not do with their money, etc. If a person’s idea of morality or way of life does not damage the fabric of existence, I firmly believe we should face front.
Someone calling you a goat will not faze you when you are confident in whom you are. It is human nature to seek validation. Nevertheless, it is pertinent we know where we look toward for approval. In seeking validation from people who do not matter, we give them power over us. We tailor the way we express ourselves to suit their definition of how they think we should be, thereby losing ourselves.
Occasionally, we find ourselves preoccupied with what other people own. We do this most times with celebrities. At times, we descend so low to pick on people who do not have as much material possessions as we do. Then we draw comparisons with people who we feel are on the same stratum as us. Whichever way, what a person owns (or does not own) is not our business.
Everyone has one behavioural trait most people find offensive. No one is perfect. In realising our imperfections, we become forgiving of other people’s imperfections. Plus, I believe we would be less critical of other people and mind our businesses if we agreed we all cannot behave the same way. No matter how annoying/bad a person is, they have at least one redeeming quality. On the other hand, if a person’s personality/energy is messing up the ambience of our lives, we can simply dispel them … if we can.
Poking our nose in other people’s business, I daresay, is an inherent trait in us. It is the same way greed and fear easily come to us. It takes practice, awareness, and mindfulness to desist from it. Allotting our energies to another person who is unaware of how invested we are in their lives robs us of directing our energies into our own lives. It is self-play.
Minding your business entails facing front and watering your lawn. Looking sideways strains the neck. However, looking at the things in front of us saves our energy. This way, we channel our focus into our lives. We do better and stop being bitter.
P.S. Drinking water and facing front is a very healthy thing to do. They say it improves our chances of feeling gratitude. “It is impossible to be negative, criticise, feel sad, or have any negative feeling when you are grateful.”