I Don’t Mind What Happens Vs I Don’t Care What Happens

There is a crucial difference between these two phrases. One can completely relieve you from a life of stress, anxiety, worry and fear. The other can lead down a bit of a slippery slope to apathy, lethargy and nihilism.

On the surface, they may appear almost identical. From the outside, a person who doesn’t mind what happens may look exactly like a person who doesn’t care what happens. They both may seem directionless, they both may seem relaxed, they both may have removed themselves from the carry-ons of the world to some degree.

On the inside though, there is a huge difference. A person who doesn’t care what happens has become disdainful. There is a subtle resentment towards the world which has not fulfilled the personal desires of the person. There is an apathy towards life; a lack of energy or enthusiasm which causes the withdrawal. There is a cloud of selfishness around not caring about anything; it says “if I can’t get what I want, I’m not really interested”.

When the great philosopher and spiritual teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti was asked before his death for one final special teaching he might share with his followers, they were let down. They were expecting some monumental, mystical insight that he could enlighten them with before he passed on. Some spiritual secret he had kept inside for most of his life. His response was simply: “I don’t mind what happens”.

Although he wasn’t a Stoic per-se, this quote expresses the Stoic sentiment of Amor Fati perfectly. In fact, there is perhaps no better quote that embodies what the Stoics meant by “Amor Fati” than this simple quote.

It’s a simple quote, but it certainly isn’t an easy one to follow. To not mind what happens means to withdraw the seeking of happiness outside of ourselves – namely in the world. Something which we have been trained to do since birth.

It means to give up all of your interpretations, ideas, preferences, biases, struggles, projections to the universe. In the Christian tradition, this is referred to as “Surrendering to God”. In the Hindu tradition, this is part of Bhakti yoga.

It is to say, after a life of struggle:

“Actually, I’m done carrying all of this baggage around. I’m sick of being happy in one moment with how things are going and disappointed the next, being thrown around by life. I thought I was the one in control here but I’m clearly not. I’m sick of being at war with the world and the universe. I’m tired of fighting the flow of water. It’s possibly the scariest thing I could ever do, but I’m going to try and just float and trust the direction I get moved in.”

There is nothing more scary, yet more liberating, than when this proposition dawns on an individual. However, there is arguably nothing more worthwhile. Your anxieties disappear along with your preferences. Your anger disappears alongside your ideas of how things should be. Your regrets disappear once you realise it all happened for a bigger reason. When you don’t mind, the baggage drops almost instantaneously.

Work becomes more effective and more effortless. You enter the flow state more often because the mind stops clamouring towards the future, worrying about if something will work or won’t. You are just there, doing, creating.

In the sentiment of Marcus Aurelius, you know longer need to debate about what a good person should do or be or look like, you just are one, because you no longer have the need to bring your personal preferences, hang-ups, desires, conditionings and wants to the table of each interaction you have. Your wellbeing isn’t invested in the outcome of any interaction, or any scenario.

Two modes of being that look very similar from the outside, but that are worlds apart on the inside.