For years I’ve lived by the saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Okay, maybe it wasn’t my personal mantra or anything, but it’s one of those societal axioms that nobody ever questions. You hear it slipped into conversation enough that you eventually start to feel the need to defend your love of a neatly made bed, or a nightly ritual of kitchen cleaning.
To me, what that saying meant was, “Don’t let yourself be bothered by little things like, worrying about making the bed, or getting the dishes done every night.” But what ended up happening is that I started thinking that stuff wasn’t important. And what I realized in January (as part of my Happiness Project) is that, that stuff IS important.
The stuff always got done, eventually, but instead of feeling satisfied, I felt relief. When one spends more time feeling relieved instead of satisfied, it puts you in a constant state of apprehension.
If it bugs you enough to think about it often, then it’s important enough to take care of.
I’ve been lazy for years, and never felt the need to defend it. But it’s also been my secret shame. I thought people would think I was weird if I admitted that I secretly longed to be an early morning riser with anal retentive tendencies toward organization or clean floors. So, I accepted my laziness. I reveled in it. And things piled up.
Piled up things get under my skin. It no longer feels like small stuff when it’s a daily irritation.
What I’m saying is DO sweat the small stuff. The big stuff will take care of itself. You HAVE to do the big stuff. You can only put off the big things before the deadline eventually come along. But the small stuff can go for years and years, and pile up enough so that it becomes not just a minor irritation, but a source of major discontent.
Think about it this way. If every single day for one year you think about some minor thing for about one minute, and it rankles you, in one year, you’ve spent 365 minutes being rankled over something that you consider minor. In hours, 365 minutes is six hours and eight minutes. Over something that is minor.
That’s six hours and eight minutes of irritation that could be spent either feeling neutral, or actually reveling in a feeling of joy or satisfaction.
My best example is my shower curtain. For the past year every single day I’ve walked into my bathroom and thought to myself, “I hate this shower curtain. I want to get a new one.”
I bought a new shower curtain in January. And now, when I walk into my bathroom, I smile. I enjoy my shower curtain. And next year I’ll be able to add six hours and eight minutes of happiness instead of irritation.
To me, that’s not small stuff. That’s pretty huge.