I love the poems, books, speeches and songs that all contemplate the same saying…
Don’t sweat the small stuff!
Anyone over the age of 40 is going to tell you this. That in looking back, with some-what imperfect hindsight, it was the small things that got in the way. The small things that prevented us from moving forward or simply moving on. The small things that really caused the arguments, mis-understandings, disagreements, anger, frustration, loneliness and pain. The small things that got in the way of our relationships, our dreams, and our wellbeing.
The big things, they challenge us in such a way as to appear surmountable, even while we’re thinking they are insurmountable. Then somehow, in our minds, we see the possibility of a singular solution and therefore find hope. It’s HUGE stuff, it’s major stuff, but it has far more limited choices and outcomes. A singular possible solution or simply no solution at all, and we accept it. We tackle it head on. We square our shoulders, pull up our boot-straps and push forward. Eventually. The big things aren’t the ones that cause us to trip. Big things can hurt, wound, and frustrate, but they don’t stop us like the small stuff.
Small things in their ability to accumulate start to weigh us down like rocks slowly filling our pockets. Small things grow and fester when left unspoken or un-dealt with. Small things snowball and roll downhill out of control eventually effecting us and those around us. The unspoken words or questions. The embarrassment of failure or exposure. The fear of rejection or misunderstanding. We let the small things run our emotional day-to-day lives and in most situations the small things aren’t even the real obstacles, they are fuel to a larger fire that you can choose to feed or extinguish.
One day we all look back and realize it wasn’t the spilt milk on the table that was bothering us at all. We let all the small stuff gather like a building storm. A storm allowed to grow so big a single person might struggle to ride it out alone.
And what had I been saying to everyone throughout my 40’s? To my friends, loved ones, even my children… Don’t sweat the small stuff. In a day, a week, or a year, none of this will matter. Things will get better. Pain lessens. Hurt fades. Fear is overcome. What matters today, might not matter tomorrow. What appears insurmountable today, will be surmountable eventually. Enjoy your life, don’t let it slip by!
Same Feelings, Different Perspective
At 50 I still feel this way. What has changed is my perspective on how I advise people to “Not sweat the small stuff”.
So the gist is this,
Try not to sweat the small stuff. Face it head on. Deal with it, discuss it, or dismiss it. Only you can identify your small stuff. And if someone tells you in a well-meaning but possibly dismissive fashion, ‘Not to sweat that small stuff’, they may be thinking their stuff is the same as your stuff. They may already realize that the issue is holding you back from greater, happier things. They may realize that what seems so large today is preventing you from seizing the day. They will want to tell you tomorrow will be better, and any tomorrow can be better.
Take advice from those who have lived it. Listen to the stories of their failures and triumphs. The ones who truly care only want to help you, guide you, and be there. We’ve all be in similar situations, but we are not all in the same boat. We are not traversing the same waters.
Sweat the small stuff the same way we sweat in the heat. Let it out ooze out everywhere. Find a friend to help cool you off or sort it out. Then go take a cleansing shower/walk/nap to wash it all off.
Tomorrow may be the day you get hit with the big stuff and you’ll look back on all the days before and wonder why such small things kept you from all that you loved and held dear.