Maybe you remember this really popular book published in 1997. It was on the New York Times Bestseller list for over 100 weeks. It was one of publishing history’s biggest runaway bestsellers, eventually selling over 15 million copies. It’s title become a catch phrase that is still used today.
Do you know what book that was?
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff by the late Richard Carlson, PhD.
Before that, Bobby McFerrin popularized the notion of not sweating the small stuff with his international hit Don’t Worry, Be Happy.
And 2000 years earlier, the Bible recorded this in Philippians 4:6-7:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
But the Little Things Can Be So Annoying
We all know the world is messed up.
And if you ever forget, just turn on the news. They’ll be more than glad to remind you that all is not right out there.
Don’t forget the ballot box. The candidates for public office run on the fact that you’re worried, bothered, and frustrated. They promise to be the savior who can deliver you from all your world’s aches and pains.
It’s tempting to let the small stuff bother us because that is the stuff that we can’t control with an iron hand.
Now let’s look at three simple, powerful, undeniable reasons not to let the small stuff bother you.
It’s Easy to Spend Way too Much Time Worrying About Things That Don’t Matter
How do you feel when you get a message from your boss, your spouse, or your friend that says something like this:
“I need to talk with you ASAP.”
“Come see me in my office.”
“Houston, we have a problem.”
The uncertainty that accompanies such a message can arouse different feelings, can’t it?
If you’re an optimist, you’ll tell yourself that it can only be good news.
If you’re a pessimist, you think it can only be bad news.
If you’re somewhere in between, you will spend every minute wondering whether the news is good or bad and psyche yourself up for either.
Chances are, if you worry about it, you’ll signal your nerves that it’s time to start sweating.
Here’s something to think about. How often does the worst thing you imagine actually happen? Has someone broken into your house every time you worried about it? How many times did you really leave the oven on? Did your house really burn down when you did?
The truth is that most of the time our worst fears do not become reality.
So don’t let the small stuff bother you.
Life is Too Short to Worry About the Little Things
I spent way too much time in high school worrying about what other people thought of me.
The truth is most of the time they ignored me.
Because we all spent the majority of our time thinking about ourselves.
I spent time thinking about what impression I made to others. I didn’t know what to do about it, but boy, did I worry about it. So the problem persisted.
The few times people did make fun of me, I really shouldn’t have let it bother me. But I did. The consequence was that I let worry prevent me from building any deep and lasting friendships when I needed it most.
And those other folks? They were thinking about themselves too. They cared about what others thought of them. They weren’t worrying about me. I just imagined they spent all their thoughts imagining what a loser I was.
What a waste of time!
I’ll never get those years back.
And neither will you when you waste them worrying about the little things that don’t even matter.
So don’t do it.
The Best Thing to Do is Ignore the Little Things
Any time you spend worrying about things that don’t matter is wasted time.
The toothpaste will come out the same no matter how you squeeze the tube, so don’t worry about it.
The toilet paper will still unroll regardless of whether it does it from the front or the back.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the same movies as someone else.
It’s okay if you want Chinese when the rest of the gang wants Mexican food.
It’s all small stuff. You’ll get past it. Life will go on. So don’t let it bother you, will you?
If you can ignore the small stuff, you’ll be the happiest person you know.
Isn’t your sanity worth it?
If it is, then resolve from this day forward not to let the small stuff bother you.
What are the little things that get under your skin? How would your life be different if you just decided to ignore them?