It is easy for us to think of ourselves as calm until we meet a stupid person. I am human. I have met my fair share of stupid people. Sometimes I am even the stupid person. This post might help, or not help you at all. To be honest, I think it will help. When I have followed the advice I will be sharing here, I have thought of people’s stupidity as fun. I mean, something that brightens up my day instead of pissing me off; I find it funny. But I must admit, there are some things that I am not sure I will ever find funny. Like if someone decides to mess with my mum when there is no cause to, other than that he or she thinks it is possible. We will take things to their logical conclusion. We will be stupid together.
People usually advocate things like avoiding anger, which of course can be a negative emotion, but always avoiding anger is unrealistic to me. There are some things that if you do not get angry at them you become a tree. Like if someone abuses a child. So I will not tell you just not to mind stupid people, although I would be telling you that too. The truth is that there are a few things that if I do not react when others do I tend to feel really miserable. I do not like feeling miserable so I would let them know what I think.
MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS
Minding ones business is a cliché. However, I have found it to be very helpful. These days I have been teaching myself not to care about what other people do. I mean, how they live, what they wear, what they eat, their opinions, or what they consider important. I do not care especially if what they do does not affect me. I will admit this is selfish. But I think this is wise selfish because it has made me calmer. It has also made me kind of more altruistic because it has made me accept people the way they are. I do not try to change them. If I make the mistake of trying to interfere in their lives, I remind myself that we all have the right to choose what is good for us. This does not mean that I would not caution someone when I see him on a path that can lead him into trouble. I will. I just do not make that a priority. I might just tell you and forget about it. I will not be miserable because someone is doing what is not in his own interest. Besides I might be wrong in my assessment. So why be miserable about something I can be potentially wrong about?
Minding ones own business puts one less in conflict with others. Logically then, one would not clash with stupid people as much too. Minding your own business is also important because aside from not dealing with stupid people, you hardly walk about evaluating the behaviour of others, putting them in the wise or stupid category. This brings peace of mind. So when you see someone get passionate about a matter about another that does not seem important, you start finding it very funny. For me, I usually smile at myself and ask, why does he care?
DON’T ENGAGE IF POSSIBLE
When you mind your own business, you are making a conscious effort not to engage in others’ business. This is tautology. My justification, however, is that this emphasis is important. When I say do not engage here, I mean this- do not engage when others engage you. It was Mark Twain who told us not to engage with fools because they will bring us to their level and beat us with experience. Being a little older now, I realize how almost impossible it is to change people. It will even be better to pray for them. Praying would mean you are making an effort to care about them; I will talk about loving stupid people pretty soon. I believe that you cannot change people if they do not want to change. There is an Akan proverb that says advice does not change people, only trials. I subscribe to that view. So try not to engage with stupid people. You can try to make things clearer to them, but if you realise they are bent on holding on to their world view, let them be; otherwise you will lose a lot of energy in your attempt towards change. They have a penchant for being insulting. This might end up offending you, and you might get down to their level. In that way, they win. Do you remember what Mark Twain said about them?
LOVE THEM IF YOU CAN. DON’T TAKE THINGS TOO FAR
Loving stupid people is very difficult. It might take all your life energy to do that. This is why I add that you should not take things too far. It might be helpful if you are able to overcome hating them. You may not be able to love them, but at least you can try not to hate them. Sometimes you can feel sympathy for them. Maybe their parents did not love them when they were children. It could also be that they were abused and this has created a permanent scar in their lives.
James Altucher has a blog post that he titles How to Deal with Crappy People. I came across that as I was reading one of his books. He advices that one shouldn’t be passive aggressive with crappy people, what I call stupid people. If they ask you a question, you do not ignore them. You answer. Do not gossip about them. It is as if they no longer exist in your life. You flee from them like the plague. I said earlier that you can sympathize with them. But do not take things too far. Once a while you meet someone who is really shitty. I feel I am using hard words, but I do not see another way of going around this. Most people I meet are cool but I have met my share of really irrational people. For these people, you do not have to do anything for them to act rudely towards you. I am not saying I am perfect, or that I never wrong anyone. I am rude sometimes myself. Ok, I admit it, I act stupidly sometimes. Maybe more than I care to admit. But there are some people whose degree of stupidity is just up there. It is difficult to sympathize with them, or even try to understand them. If you try understanding them your head will explode. A supercomputer is needed for such task. You are not Jesus or the Buddha. So do not take things too far by hating yourself for detesting someone who is just an awful human being. Some people are just awful.
LET THEM KNOW THEY ARE STUPID AND WHY
It is best not to do this. But sometimes you see someone who is stupid but thinks he is tough and you want to mess with him a little if he tries to mess with you. I am no pacifist. I do not believe in doing everything to maintain peace. I will not even do everything just to be in good terms with friends or family. Accepting everything from everyone will lead you to disrespect yourself. If you cannot take it, just tell the stupid people why how they are behaving is unreasonable. In doing this, you should have exhausted all the methods I have already mentioned. You can usually leave people to wallow in their stupidity if it does not affect you. Most often we have problems with people because we poke our nose in matters that do not concern us. When we avoid that we might not have to engage stupid people at all. But if all methods fail, you can play with them a little. The key word here is a little. Some stupid people have been stupid for a long time, and if you try to play their game with them you will lose. So you tell them they are stupid and why they are stupid, then you go your way. No looking back. Do not try too hard to prove their stupidity too. You will usually feel better if you are like me, and some kind of stupidity leave you physically ill. If you tell someone clearly that he is stupid and the reason for your saying that you have helped.
Of course, you might start by correcting him without insulting him. But if it is necessary to tell someone he is an idiot, it is necessary to tell him or her why too. Be clear. Also do not make it your goal to make the person feel like the most worthless human thing in the universe. I mean you bring up issues from the past that reinforce how evil the person is, you bring in the person’s looks or physical infirmities, family problems, that kind of thing. That is irresponsible. Even when the other person starts doing that kind of thing it is better to be silent. Most of us have little control on such things. It is unfair to tell me I am ugly in order to make me feel bad for doing something foolish. It is kinder to let me know I am stupid because of what I did, so that when I am in bed at night and I am replaying what you told me, no matter how much I do not like you telling me I am stupid I might find truth in you calling me out. It might help me. It also makes it easy for us to be civil to each other in the future because it will appear we had a problem on a particular issue, not that you have a problem with the fact that I am extant.
As I said in the beginning of this part, it is better not to engage on this level. Our brain has a tendency of making us see slights when slights are not intended by the supposed perpetrators. We really need to train our brains so that we do not become petty. This means we need to know things that are important to us. To be honest with you, I do not have a list of things that I will choose to fight on. I, however, think it is sometimes necessary to fight people, but we should also look out so we do not fight useless fights. As Jesus implored his apostles, I would like to be a wise serpent than an innocent dove. Being offensive is not an absolute no-no for me.
BEING LESS STUPID EVERYDAY: MAYBE WE ARE THE STUPID ONES
When I said I act stupidly I was not joking. The reality is that most often I am the stupid person. These days I am only stupid in my head. I try not to act out my stupidity. Almost everyday I am engaging in a battle with myself. I try critiquing my thoughts. When I think ill of someone I ask myself why. It is not only about people. If I feel fearful I ask myself why I feel that way. What is the root cause of this emotion? I do not just accept it because I have realized my mind plays games with me sometimes. I try to see things clearer each day. I reserve judgement on people, because it takes time to know who people truly are. I try not to put too much pressure on myself too. My goal is only to get less stupid everyday. My goal is not even to be wise. I think what can help me reach this goal is to criticize my thoughts as withhold judgement.
Thank you for reading.