Don’t sweat the small stuff. That’s a directive many of us have heard throughout our lives. You probably didn’t appreciate it at the time. Whatever it was that pushed your button seemed big at the time and you felt justified at pushing back. Maybe you did more than just push back. Perhaps you over reacted and said or did things you came to regret.
Richard Carlson wrote a book with the title, “Don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff.” He then wrote subsequent books about small stuff at work, in love, for women, and with your family. So what is small stuff, anyway? What is small to me may be huge to you and vice versa. Small stuff consists of those things that really don’t matter in the long run— a bad hair day, no milk for your breakfast cereal, or the gas tank left almost empty by your teen age son. So when people tell you, “Don’t sweat the small stuff” what does that mean to you? What is small stuff to you?
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
When I was still in the dating game, I dated a man who had big reactions to little events. I said to him more than once, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” His response was, “There is no small stuff.” His life reflected this belief. He reacted with anger to what I thought were little things. He hung on to little annoyances with incidents and people and built them into major happenings. Small stuff set him off as easily as big stuff did. I saw him not long ago. Amazingly, he admitted that there was a lot of small stuff and he no longer let it ruin his life. Too bad he sweat it for so many years. He could have been enjoying life on a much grander scale.
Do you get angry over little things that happen? You might want to define for yourself what is “small stuff” and what is “big stuff.” I can’t tell you how to sort it for yourself but I can give you some thoughts on some of my small vs. big stuff.
Small Stuff vs. Big Stuff
Small: someone driving very slowly in front of you when you’re in a hurry
Big: a drunk driver weaving in and out of traffic endangering everyone’s life
Small: someone in front of you in the bank line who seems to have endless business
Big: no money and no bank account
Small: a cranky, too-tired, child
Big: a child with an incurable illness
Small: looking in your overfull closet and declaring that you have nothing to wear
Big: nothing to wear and no closet
Small: he spilled and there’s a spot on your carpet
Big: you lost your house and carpet
Small: the wind blew and messed up your new hairdo
Big: the tornado came and blew away your house
Small: someone put a scratch on your fender
Big: your car is a total wreck
Those are probably more examples than you need to get the idea.
Questions to ask yourself
From now on when you start getting rattled, ask yourself some questions:
- Will this have a long term affect or is it a just-for-now annoyance?
- Is this endangering my life or the life of another?
- Will this impair my health or the health of another?
- What negative impact will this make on my life style or the life style of another?
- Is this something that endangers any living thing on the planet?
- Do I really want to lose control because of this thing?
Again, this is about choices based on what you think is important to you and what is not. You are in charge of how you react. Therefore, you make the decision whether to be upset or to be mellow.
It’s up to you to sort it out and make a decision about how to react to it. Sort it out for yourself, and, in the meantime don’t sweat the small stuff.