For a long time I’d see the advice, “don’t sweat the small stuff” and wonder what it really meant. I mean, okay, easy to get the idea that you shouldn’t waste your energy worrying about stuff that’s not important. But I come from a long line of people who think everything is worth worrying about. And I’m kind of a drama queen. So how do I decide what’s too small? I’ve noticed it seems to be a problem for a lot of people.
So I devised a test. I ask myself, “Will anybody die because of the doing or not doing or occurring or not occurring of this thing I’m worrying about?” And “will anybody be maimed or permanently impaired in some way by the wrong outcome?” I figure if the situation isn’t threatening to a life or adversely affecting the well-being of a living being, then it’s small stuff.
When a friend of mine started moving into full blown panic because “I HAVE TO HAVE THE FRONT YARD DECORATED FOR CHRISTMAS BY FRIDAY!”, I asked her, “will somebody die if you fail to meet the deadline?”
“Well, no,” she reluctantly admitted.
“Will anyone be permanently maimed or injured if the decorations don’t go up?” She laughed and agreed that against that standard she could relax. But she was a little stiff as she moved away and I never knew whether I really helped her calm down or angered her because I made the importance of decorating small. [From a right speech viewpoint I get that it’s OK for me to ask myself those questions but dodgy as right speech if I make someone else answer them…]
After many years of spiritual practices and lots of releasing the past, I’m far less easily moved to angst so my test doesn’t come up very often for me any more. And to be honest I’m not always mindful enough to remember to ask the questions on the rare occasions when something does wind me up. But I think giving myself that perspective was part of what helped me to find this place of greater serenity. I’m grateful I don’t much need it any more.
- Don’t Sweat the small stuff….. Decide Just How Much Anxiety A Thing Is Worth (raymondkuceli.wordpress.com)
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (collectionsofthoughts.wordpress.com)