When I first started writing, it was important to me to know what other people thought of my articles. I delighted in my positive reviews and fretted over every word of criticism. I took applause as a measure of my success. But later I understood, that public perception has little to do with the quality of my work. It makes my articles no better or worse. Having this insight felt like being released from a prison of my own making.
One of the ideas most vital to leading a good life is to understand the difference between an ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ scorecard. Which one matters to you more? How you evaluate yourself or how the outside world evaluates you?
There are understandable reasons why we’re so concerned about how we come across to others, but that doesn’t mean it still makes sense today. On the contrary, the opinion of others are far less significant than you think. Concentrating on prestige and reputation distorts our perception of what makes us truly happy. And it stresses us out, detrimental to a good life.
Social media has created a culture in which people turn into little brand managers to create a falsely upbeat, slightly over exuberant external self. We are forever in an ‘approval seeking’ mode and like ratings, followers etc.
So let go of liking and being liked. Instead accomplish something. Live in such a way that you can still look at yourself in the mirror. As Warren Buffet says, ‘If I do something that others don’t like but I feel good about, I’m happy. If others praise something I’ve done, but I’m not satisfied, I feel unhappy’. That’s the perfect ‘inner scorecard’. So focus on that, and treat external praise and censure with friendly, composed disinterest.