Today, I discuss how to overcome your desire for attention by improving yourself, being generous, and pursuing what is meaningful.
Table of Contents
- A Cult of Attention
- The Drawbacks of Pursuing Attention
- Firstly, if our flaws and vices are on full display, our enemies know where to attack.
- Secondly, we will lose the respect of virtuous individuals.
- Lastly, we become dependant on the vice we are flaunting.
- How To Reduce Your Want For Attention
- You Don’t Need To Court Others For Attention
A Cult Of Attention
“I am not absentminded. It is the presence of mind that makes me unaware of everything else.” – G.K. Chesterton
The most valuable commodity today is attention. It used to be time. But in the age of social media, fast advertisement, and aggressive commercialization, attention pays dividends.
Noble acts and purposeful deeds were the traditional means of gaining admiration. This admiration encouraged individuals to pursue what was meaningful and sustainable.
Nowadays, people are too comfortable to pursue what is meaningful. Thus, they take shortcuts to fame by airing their dirty laundry for gasps, pity, and likes.
The Drawbacks of Pursuing Attention
- Firstly, if our flaws and vices are on full display, our enemies know where to attack. When you air your dirty laundry or fail to resolve issues privately, your enemies know your weaknesses. And they will push hard to ensure you are guilted, shamed, or disgusted into silence.
- Secondly, we will lose the respect of virtuous individuals. Respected individuals do not flaunt their flaws for hopes of praise and admiration. Worthy individuals focus on virtue, personal responsibility, and sustainability to earn respect. If you seek temporary fame at the cost of your dignity, then you will find allies amongst weak-willed, back-stabbing people. Such a “community” will not protect you when life inevitably hardens.
- Lastly, we become dependant on the vice we are flaunting. If a particular skill gains me fame, money, and attention, I am incentivized to maintain and practice that skill. Similarly, if I have a flaw I flaunt for attention, fame, and money, I am more likely to deepen and perpetuate that flaw instead of resolving it. Very few individuals are strong enough to resist the siren’s call of attention. Therefore, it’s best to play it safe and avoid courting attention for your vices.
How To Reduce Your Want For Attention
When you reduce your need for attention, you focus on what is essential: community, virtue, self-improvement, meaning. The constant desire for fame will drain and distract you from what creates real challenge and purpose.
Through these four methods, you can reduce your need for attention.
1) Pursue what is meaningful
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” – Marcus Aurelius
If your actions are noble, you are less likely to fall into the pitfalls of wanting fame. Why? Firstly, if you are pursuing something meaningful, you are often too busy to want waste. Secondly, pursuing nobility in action and speech orients your mind towards what is magnanimous. With your mind shifted toward greatness, you are less likely to want to court attention from weak individuals.
Lastly, if you build yourself into a great person, you may earn positive admiration for your nobility instead of your flaws. The more you are admired for your nobility, the more incentivized you are to become a better person.
2) Remove yourself from social media
Social media is a waste. The various sites offer nothing of substance or value.
Additionally, these sites are programmed to make you addicted to their products. The more you break away from them, the better you’ll feel.
There’s nothing to find on social media. No productive conversations happen – you can do better with a conversation in person. All the intellectual and political information is fabricated and designed to provoke you emotionally – you should read a book instead. Everything about social media will drive you crazy – let it go and move on.
3) Be generous
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” – John Holmes
Generosity removes the attention from ourselves. When we alleviate the suffering of those around us, we are less likely to obsess over our need for worship.
Always start locally and within your community. Ask the people in your life what you can do to help them and follow through with what they request.
From there, focus on setting aside time and money to help others. Volunteer at the soup kitchen or make monthly donations to a charity. Through your efforts, you can ensure people are taken care of.
Once people are cared for, you will not desire attention from weak individuals. Why? Because you are intimate with suffering and your capacity to resolve it. This reality is a rush in itself and reminds you of how magnanimous you can make your life. Once you taste how great you can be, you will ignore courting attention from weak individuals.
4) Accept you’ll always want attention
Lastly, you must accept you will always want attention. Not all attention is terrible – love from your spouse or respect from your co-workers are healthy versions of attention.
Therefore, the goal is to seek meaningful admiration from virtuous individuals: respect, love, and admiration. These elements are built on virtue and serve long-term, sustainable ends.
Understand the 13 virtues and embody them. Then, look at what people in your life need you to do. Take care of your responsibilities, and you’ll have the admiration you seek from the people who matter most.
You Don’t Need To Court Others For Attention
“What you stay focused on will grow.” – Roy T. Bennett
Attention is an addictive thing. Many people want to be worshipped and celebrated. The more you desire the eyes of others, the more power they will have over you because you will do all you can to appease them.
Instead, become an individual — practice virtue. Remove yourself from attention-seeking places like social media. Focus on helping others. Pursue what is uncomfortable but meaningful. Do this, and the world will benefit.
Do this, and you will benefit.
- Do you usually court attention? From whom? How do you feel when you receive it? How does it feel when you don’t receive it?
- What is one thing you can do to give your life more meaning?
- Who are virtuous individuals in your life you could help? What would happen if you resolved some of their issues?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.