Remember that book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (And It’s All Small Stuff)”? I heard that author speak once at a convention and I thought that he was completely out of touch. Seriously. I was a believer in “God is in the details.” “If you take care of the little things, the big things take care of themselves.”
Then came Hurricane Katrina and my perspective was irrevocably altered.
You hear victims of disaster say, “At least we’re safe. That’s the important thing.” And, you know what? It really is the important thing. The rest of it is just stuff. The event changed how I viewed the world, my place in it, myself, my possessions, my friends and my family. It changed what I viewed as important. Waiting in line five minutes at the bank became less of a hassle. Having a lot of things wasn’t as important.
However (you knew that was coming) in spite of my perspective shift, I do sweat the small stuff. A colleague recently told me that I put too much pressure on myself. I acknowledge that her statement is probably true; but, who else can I put that pressure on? My son? He’s off at college doing his own thing, becoming his own man (and choosing to become a pretty fabulous one, if I may say so). I tried putting pressure on the dog, but he’s a Labrador. The only time Labs feel pressure is when you’re holding a ball but not throwing it. I tried putting the pressure on my cats; but, well, they’re cats. They don’t do pressure. So that leaves me.
I’m the breadwinner, the repairman, the gardener, the mother, the cook, the laundress, the maid, etc., etc. As adults, we all wear lots of hats and shoulder great responsibility. It’s part of being an adult, isn’t it? Somebody puh-leeeze tell me if it’s not, b’cause I’d love to drop some of this stuff like a bad habit!
I believe that it’s the small stuff that either makes us or breaks us. A chain of small bad things, a streak of bad luck are like Chinese water torture. They erode our humor and ability to cope until we are raw. Likewise, a chain of good things or a streak of good luck can put us on top of the world. Lately, I’ve felt like I was dealing with a million small bad things that were just eating away at me. They have stolen my sense of humor.
As you know, I don’t believe that happiness is always a choice, but I do believe that what I choose to focus on is a choice. I can choose to focus on the negative or I can focus on the positive. For the last few weeks, focusing on the positive has been well nigh impossible; but, I’ve continued to try. I’ve kept turning my mind towards good things rather than bad ones.
And it’s beginning to work.