Stop caring what other people think of you

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do it.”—Eleanor Roosevelt

People perceiving you as rich, beautiful, lucky, tough or smart will not make you happy, yet you wouldn’t know this if you observed how much time and energy people spend trying to get other people to think they are those things. If people think you have got it made, it won’t make you happy. Just look at celebrities—many people admire them and think they have it made, but clearly it doesn’t make them happy. In fact, given the number of divorces and trips to rehab, you could posit they are one of the least happy segments of the population. So stop being concerned with what other people think of you, it’s a waste of your energy and keeps you from having a quiet mind.

© 2013-2021 Sara Weston. Excerpted from the book How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on or Amazon UK,  CAFR , ITES and DEA FREE excerpt of the book is available here.

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Without the story, where is the problem?

I once flew down to Peter Island, and as I arrived at the hotel, the manager received me with a tall, iced rum cocktail and a heavy dose of frustration and annoyance. She shook her head and said, “Didn’t you check the weather? There’s a hurricane coming, and we’re sending all the guests home tomorrow.” She was really embarrassed for me, but I chuckled a bit at her discomfort—I was the one who had to schlep back to New York without having a lovely Caribbean dive trip, not her!

The next day on the ferry ride to the airport, the other hotel guests assumed I’d been down there for several days like they had, and not wanting to deal with their pity or even self-congratulations that at least they’d have 4 or 5 good days, I didn’t mention that’d I’d just arrived the day before.

Several hours later, back at JFK, I made a call while waiting at the baggage claim. I had just started dating a guy and thought we could go to dinner. I’d met him at work, installing a piece of software on his computer. We’d been flirting for a few weeks, and gone on a first date just a few days earlier. It had ended with a kiss that, well, had a lot of fireworks, so I thought seeing him would be a fun consolation prize. This was pre-cellphone days, so I called Information for his number, and then upon calling him, an answering machine picked up. A young woman cheerfully let the caller know that the two of them weren’t home. I don’t recall her words, but it was obvious she was not a flatmate or a relative, they were a couple. I was shocked that he not only had a girlfriend, but that they lived together! Now the evasive way he responded to my assumption that he lived alone made much more sense. I know I’m a glass half-full person, but I thought this revelation alone was worth the trip!

When I returned to work, I didn’t explain to my co-workers why I was back from vacation early. I was new and didn’t know anyone really well yet, but even so, I could see there was still an opportunity to make a big story about my disastrous trip—all the time and money wasted traveling there and back, the disappointment of not getting to scuba dive, and most of all, the idiocy of not knowing to check the weather before flying to the Caribbean during hurricane season. There was even more opportunity to tell the story about that guy over in Accounting I’d gone on a date with who, turns out, has a girlfriend! But instead, I simply didn’t tell any of these stories. I’d been meditating for several years, and the mind simply didn’t have the drive to tell these stories. I just did my job as per normal, and everything was calm. I didn’t tell these stories to my co-workers, and more importantly, I didn’t tell them to myself, and I literally, and happily, forgot about all of it. What I noticed is that without the story of disappointment, there was no disappointment. Without the story of embarrassment, there was no embarrassment. Without the story of frustration, there was no frustration.

It was after this incident that I became acutely aware that we have the option to tell stories or not. And if we don’t tell them, they don’t exist. It was a moment of recognition of how we make our world with our thoughts. The experience existed, the credit card bill existed, but all the drama around it simply wasn’t there, because I didn’t tell the story. It was a really powerful moment of watching no story arise, and observing how silent and blissful that no-story was.

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” Dhammapada, The Sayings of the Buddha, Thomas Byrom translation

Who Has Ever Gone Beyond

The student asked the Buddha: “Why is it that wise women and men in the world—priestesses, rulers, and others—always offer sacrifices to the gods?”

The Buddha answered: “They offer things to the gods because as they get older they want to keep their lives as they are and have no misfortunes.”

“But, Buddha, does it ever make any difference to their old age by making these careful offerings?”

“Their prayers and praises and offerings and hopes are all made on the basis of possessions, rewards, and longings for pleasure. These experts in prayer are longing to continue becoming. But it will make no difference to their old age.”

“Please tell me, Buddha, if all the offerings from these experts don’t get them beyond old age, then who has ever gone beyond?”

The Buddha said: “When a person has thoroughly understood the world, from top to bottom, when there is nothing in the world that agitates them anymore, then they have become somebody who is free from confusion and fears and tremblings and the longings of desire. They have gone beyond getting old and beyond birth and death.”

—Sutta Nipata, from The Pocket Buddha Reader


We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.
Dhammapada, The Sayings of the Buddha, Thomas Byrom translation

Silence of the Buddha


The historical Buddha refrained from answering many of his students’ metaphysical questions, such as whether a self exists or not, whether an enlightened being continues to exist after death or not, or if the world is eternal or not. This is often referred to as the silence of the Buddha. The Buddha said he was silent on these questions because they didn’t lead to liberation, but instead were a distraction.

The Buddha illustrated his position in the parable of a woman who has been hit by a poisoned arrow. The woman is taken to a doctor, who wants to remove the arrow at once. But the wounded woman cries out, “The arrow shall not be pulled out until I know who the man is who shot me, to what family he belongs, if he is big, small, or of medium build, and if his skin is black, brown or white.” Just as the woman wounded by the arrow would have died before she got the answer to her questions, so the student would be laid low by the suffering of the world before solving these metaphysical questions.
—Paraphrased from the “Silence of the Buddha” entry in The Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and Religion

Sara Weston is the author of How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on or Amazon UKCA, FR, IT, ES and DE. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here.

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Dust Motes in a Sunbeam

The Buddha said:
“I consider the positions of kings and rulers as that of dust motes in a sunbeam. I see the treasures of gold and gems as broken tiles. I look upon the finest silken robes as tattered rags. I see the myriad worlds of the universe as small seeds and the great Indian Ocean as drops of mud that soil one’s feet. I perceive the teachings of the world to be the illusions of magicians. I look upon the judgement of right and wrong as the serpentine dance of dragons, and the rise and fall of beliefs as the traces left by the four seasons.”

—from Teachings of the Buddha, adapted from the Sutra of Forty-Two Sections, translated by Samuel Beal

Teacher Appreciation Day

Excerpted from the great book Zen Antics, translated by Thomas Cleary (also in Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume Four).


Once when Zen master Seisetsu was seeing to the rebuilding of part of the monastery where he was teaching, a certain wealthy merchant came with a hundred ounces of gold, saying he wanted to donate it for the reconstruction project. Seisetsu took it without a word.

The next day the merchant came back to visit the Zen master. He remarked, “Although what I gave you was not so great an amount, it was an exceedingly costly donation for me. In spite of that, you didn’t say a word of thanks. Why is that?”

Seisetsu hollered, “I am planting your field of blessings; why should I thank you?”

The merchant was very embarrassed. He apologized and thanked the Zen master.