Your car won’t start. Your computer crashes. You drop your cell phone, and the screen cracks. You mess up someone’s order. You buy the wrong product but since you’ve thrown away the receipt and already opened it, you can’t return it.
Frustrating? Embarrassing? Expensive? Yes, yes and yes.
There are just some days when the details of life don’t add up in our favor.
However, at the end of the day, all these things and a hundred other little trials like them are small stuff; but more often than not, we sweat because of them.
I recently finished an audiobook by Richard Carlson called Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff.
It’s a collection of wisdom he’s learned to apply to situations that are often less than ideal. I’d like to share just three in the hope they’ll help you breathe a little easier this week.
Start the day with gratitude.
Find someone to thank early in the day. Sit down to write a thank you letter, text a friend a Bible verse, post a sticky note in your friend’s locker, do something to tell someone how much you appreciate him.
You’ll be surprised how far a little gratitude can go. This contagious attitude will help you face the small stuff that creeps into your day.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
This idea originated with Steve Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. When someone is talking to you (especially where disagreements are concerned), be an intentional listener. Instead of formulating in your head how you’re going to answer back, genuinely seek to understand what the person is saying.
Actively listen, and then pause before responding. Perhaps restate the person’s concerns or criticism to make sure you understand his point of view. Then, explain your own.
By taking the time to genuinely understand someone else’s perspective, you will make the other individual feel validated, and in turn, he will be more open to hear what you have to say.
Learn from annoying people.
Don’t laugh. There are probably people in your life who drive you crazy. A classmate. A teacher. A sibling. A customer.
Instead of complaining about them, ask yourself what they can teach you. For example: Does your professor seem to criticize everything you do? Instead of getting defensive (the natural thing to do), say to yourself: I’m thankful for a professor who can teach me why constructive criticism is so important and the right and wrong way to go about it.
If you can find the diamond in the rough – something valuable that even annoying people can teach us about ourselves – you will find them less irritating and become a better person because of (or in spite of) them.
A final reminder
This is more of a practical challenge, but I’d like to end with a biblical perspective. If life’s inconveniences and problems have you down, take comfort: Our heavenly Father knows and cares about all the needs in our lives! Nothing is too big or small to escape His notice.
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. (Matthew 6:31-32 NKJV)
When we sweat the small stuff, we lose sight of our purpose. The very next verse in Matthew 6 reminds us what that should be:
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s a waste of energy and steals precious time and opportunities for us to focus on what really matters in life.