Charles Swindoll was quoted saying, “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how you react to it”. Looking at myself and how I react to things I’m concerned about has been a concern for me for many years, but after I had a stroke it has become very important to me. I think a certain apathy is very important in being less reactive. Not the kind of apathy that burns up your car engine because you don’t care about its oil level, but another kind. It is the kind of apathy that keeps you emotionally detached from an unfolding event, situation, or personal exchange. I once had an ass for a boss who loved to rant and use chastisement to motivate those who were his unfortunate subordinates. He was so harsh I observed women crying during his beratements. When it was my turn, I stood there and took it like everyone else, but I didn’t even listen to what he was saying. I really pissed him off when I would say “thanks for letting me know” without any emotion, remorseful or otherwise. One time he told me he did not like my reactionless response to his unprofessional behavior. I told him that I am a veteran of combat and that “I didn’t wet my pants then either”.
Emotionless fighting in martial arts is important to free the mind for assessing your opponents moves and develop a plan to exploit his weaknesses. Is this apathy or a lack of fear of being hurt or killed. Sun Tzu in the art of war wrote that to be a smart fighter you need to dismiss fear of death and fight with the creativity and measured abandon needed to defeat an enemy.
There are people in our lives who know what “buttons to push” to get a reaction out us. This is also an activity I work hard to thwart in my own behavior. The longer we know someone the more expertise we develop to achieve the desired reaction. I equate this button pushing effort to someone attempting to wipe their butt in my face. Apathy reduces, in fact eliminates my personal anger which then keeps me from pushing other people’s “buttons”. Not the I don’t give a s*** kind of apathy, but the kind that prevents me from breeching my state of happiness.
So is there a better word than apathy for this caring, but not caring detachment from being a reactionary person?