DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF
I was introduced to “Don’t sweat the small stuff … it’s all small stuff” by Richard Carlson Ph.D as a result of a subject I am taking this semester - Anthropology while studying towards my Psychology Degree. Richard Carlson ended up writing the book with this title because of Wayne Dyer (one of my favourites) who quoted this to him when he was getting himself all worked up about what Wayne Dyer thought was “small stuff”.
We all sweat the small stuff at some stage or other unfortunately! I think the biggest lesson is to ask the question "will this incident still be important tomorrow? ... in a week? ... in a year? ... in 5 years?" Generally not.
Richard Carlson says that “the way we relate to our problems is important and that we should respond to life more gracefully! We should follow the path of least resistance, go with the flow, learn to let go of problems”. None of which are easy to do but if we don't, causes us an enormous amount of unnecessary stress.
Similar analogies are “don’t turn a mosquito into an elephant” (oh heavens!). Or … “don't make mountains out of molehills.”
Let's look at some examples. How would you react to the following :
Scenario 1: Motorist cuts you off on the highway while trying to make the exit he nearly missed.
Do you ….
- think that “he’s obviously lost and doesn’t know where he’s going”
- think that “he is an idiot. He is going to cause an accident one day!”
- start chasing after him. Stop him and tell him what an idiot he is while grabbing him around the collar
Scenario 2: Your child walks into the room and accidentally knocks over your glass of wine that you left on the floor next your chair.
Do you …
- shout at your child calling him a clumsy clot and why doesn’t he look where he is going.
- Ask him to next time please look where he is walking
- say to him “accidents happen, I shouldn’t have left my glass on the floor in the first place.
How do you think you child will feel if you react as per option 1? and if you react as per Option 3? You’ll have very different feelings after each, and so will your child.
Next time something happens and you feel your blood pressure rising - ask your self the question : “is this small stuff?” Will it matter to me tomorrow? In a week … month … years time? if it does, then of course it’s BIG STUFF.
PS : I remember a scenario approximately 15 years ago. We had just relocated to Germany with 3 small boys aged 1, 4 & 7. I made a new friend who always commented on the amount of time I spent cleaning. The one day she popped in and guess what I was doing ...? Cleaning!! She stood on her tippy toes and swiped her finger across the kitchen door and said "you missed a spot!" When she saw my face, she said that she was only joking and do I really think people expect a perfect house! Don't sweat the small stuff!