Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (And It’s All Small Stuff)May 02, 2019
You know, they say you’ll keep getting the same lesson over and over again until you learn it.
I don’t even know who they is, I just know I’ve heard an iteration of that phrase many times in various books and podcasts.
The lesson I’m continuously learning is not to sweat the small stuff. The little stressors in life. The items on my to-do list.
I understand it cognitively. Having to find an exterminator for a rodent problem? That is a minuscule “problem” in the grand scheme of life. Auto insurance started charging more without informing you? Annoying, but not major. At all.
Major would be a health scare. Losing someone you love. Your house burning down. You know, really big things. Me feeling anxious about some extra phone calls and money spent? It’s not even comparable.
So, like I said, I cognitively understand it but physiologically, my body is still a spaz. Internally, I coach myself: Just don’t do it! Don’t get so worked up. It seriously doesn’t matter.
I could write about this topic 100 more times because I typically write about what I struggle with, and I struggle with this one so I need the reminder often. And if you’re a little neurotic like me, chances are you could use the reminder, too.
Lessons from Richard Carlson, PH.D
My parents had this little book they kept in their bathroom called “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson, PH.D.
Nearly every time I’d use their bathroom, I’d flip through that little book in curiosity, hoping the messages would rub off on me. Because even at 12-years-old I was a high strung head case.
I looked up some quotes from the book because i was curious what I’d been reading as a kid. And dang, did Richard Carlson had some good quotes in that book. I’m pretty pleased my 12-year-old self was reading this stuff. Here are a couple:
The key to a good life is this: If you’re not going to talk about something during the last hour of your life, then don’t make it a top priority during your lifetime.Richard Carlson
Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness.Richard Carlson
As I was finishing up this post this morning to share today, I was compelled to learn more about the man behind this book. He sounded like such a wise and wonderful soul. What I found, made my heart ache and couldn’t have put things into perspective more clearly.
Maybe I’m dim because I hadn’t heard of him before. But for anyone else who doesn’t know, he was a self-help author who died suddenly and unexpectedly at age 45 in 2006.
His wife said this about losing her husband,
One morning I sat in the kitchen, sipping my coffee in the early pre-dawn. We had sat there in conversation almost every morning of our lives together. Minutes before, I had shuffled in, barely awake, routinely reached for our two favourite mugs and set them side by side on the counter, just as I had done thousands of times. There was a sudden knot in my stomach as reality hit. What was I doing? It is the small things, the rituals of how you live together, that are the most meaningful – drinking coffee, the way your feet curl together in bed at night, passing the toothpaste back and forth and talking while it dribbles down your faces.https://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-1283992/Sudden-death–The-great-beauty-grief-clarity.html
That gutted me.
Oh, how we take the little moments for granted.
It Simply Doesn’t Matter
After reading about Carlson’s sudden death, it quickly put everything into perspective.
We can all relate to that, right?
You hear about someone you went to school with passing away or a fatal car accident. Your breath catches and you do a scan of your own life. You realize how easily that could’ve been you or someone you love.
Perspective is powerful and it’s what keeps us grounded.
As Matt and I are finishing up the final details of our annual Invitational this weekend, I’m letting go of any stress I’d felt in planning it.
I’d found myself getting worked up about the little details because I want everything to be perfect.
What are people getting in their goodie bags this year? When do I need to order the personalized gifts by? What are we going to eat for dinner on Saturday night? Is this meal good for everyone’s budget? How much alcohol do we need to buy for the weekend?
It’s silly. It’s so non-important. It’s not about the small things; it’s about the way we feel when we’re together with our friends. It’s about enjoying every single moment and making memories.
On Tuesday morning, as I was leaving for work, I realized I forgot my coffee in the house (the travesty!) and had to run back inside. The house was completely silent, aside from the sound of water dripping through the filter in our water jug. I’d just refilled it before I’d walked out the door.
Whoa. Hearing the water drop, seeing Katin fast asleep on the couch, unbothered by my presence. It gave me this quick flash of realization. With or without me, life goes on.
Life moves along every single day. With or without us, the day will pass. Whether we choose to be stressed or choose to be joyful. When you’re in the depths of your to-do list, I urge you to look for perspective again.
Trust me, I’m right there with you.
Do you have any great tips for managing stress? I’d love to know!