I am a worrywart. I’ll admit it – I actually do sweat the small stuff. I would love to be laid back and carefree about things, but I’m just not built that way. Lucky for me, I married an easygoing, adventurous kind of guy. When I freak out about something ridiculous - which I do from time to time - he’s the one who reminds me it’s not the end of the world. And when that doesn’t work, I call my mom, who asks me two very important questions: “Is this really going to matter in five years? What about six months from now?” Point taken, Mom.
I’ve had to learn how to relax a bit over the years because my gut instinct to just flip out… Jerry Maguire style. There’s a book out called “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff,” by Dr. Richard Carlson, and I’m pretty sure it was written for me. One of the suggestions in the book talks about choosing joy. Basically saying, if you want to have a good day, then choose to do so. Don’t let those little annoyances stop you from doing that. Sometimes, bumps in the road are unavoidable, but we make a choice about the way we’ll react and respond to it. When I’m aware of my behavior, I try to think before I say anything. And you know what? It helps. I still have to work very hard at it, but at least I’m more aware of it now.
Another part of the book talks about the “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome. Dr. Carlson says we tend to get caught up thinking about all the things that go wrong in our lives, instead of focusing on all of the good. He suggests making a list, and writing down three great things about your life on a daily basis.
I think it’s actually a really good idea. About a year ago, I realized I was focusing on the wrong things - and it was bringing me down. Who wants to be around a Debbie Downer? No one! So, I made it my New Year’s resolution to make my own list, focusing on three great things that happened to me each day. The lists consisted of everything from a long nap, to seeing an old friend, to laughing so hard my stomach hurt. And as time went on, I started to take notice of those great things in my day as they were happening. It took a little while, but I was able to get out of my funk.
Don’t get me wrong, life isn’t sunshine and roses all of the time. Sometimes, I still slip back into “reaction mode,” instead of choosing not to freak out. But I think we’re constantly learning. There are times we all have to remind ourselves that a blip on the life radar isn’t the end of the world. And in a pinch, I’ll just call my mom for those two magic questions.